WEDNESDAY, OCT. 31: “In some ways the PLP has exploited the black community because even before the current Premier we would hear PLP supporters insulting black UBP people, calling them Uncle Toms, which implies that all blacks should vote PLP.” 

— Dr. Eva Hodgson, The Royal Gazette, 08/13/2010

 

I can think of four easy reasons why voters should put very little value on PLP Deputy Leader Derrick Burgess’ recent claim that Minister Zane DeSilva has lost dozens of contracts for joining the PLP.

The first is that it sounds, well, exaggerated. Dozens of contracts, you say? Even the follow up comments in The Royal Gazette by the Bermuda National Trust provide very little to support the allegation.

My understanding of the article was that in 2009, DeSilva would still have been paying less per year than the independently-valued monthly rate.

Common sense also begs us to ask: If the Trust were trying to destroy DeSilva’s business, why would they have continually lowered the rent in the first place?

The second reason is that the PLP has an over-dependence on black voters to get elected, and thus the PLP needs to motivate their base.

Part of the reason for this over-dependence on black voters is that from day one the PLP seems to have done everything in its powers to reject white voters.

The Royal Gazette, Dec. 9 1998: “...Ms. Smith’s letter to Chamber of Commerce president Michael Smith, in response to one from him outlining business concerns over the holiday, said Government was ‘guided by the greater will of the people.’ And Ms Smith added that ‘any segment of the community not joining them does so at its own peril’.”

  This was further compounded in December of 2000, when in reference to Constitutional Change the Premier’s Chief of Staff advised the Senate: “We don’t care what 46 per cent of the electorate think, I know what we are doing is correct, I care what the 54 per cent of the electorate think.”

Let’s stop kidding ourselves... This was no way to invite whites to join the PLP. 

It appeared that Alex Scott understood that the PLP had little chance of diversifying the voter support base if the PLP were to continue in the same manner as they did in their first term.

Hence why we find written in his 2003 Social Agenda Speech: “The time had come for the PLP to become a truly national party capable of representing a significant and diverse majority of Bermudians — of all races, beliefs and cultures.” 

Further, appointing racially hostile individuals to the Senate in 2010, or running them in the 2012 election, doesn’t help either. All things considered, it is absolutely critical for the PLP to convince black voters that not much has changed since the 1960s.

The third reason why we should put little value on these comments is that it is Burgess who is making them.

Frankly, it is hypocritical at best to see a party that has demonstrated mastery of political ostracism turn around and condemn it. In June of 2010, news had broken that WEDCO was awarding the Dockyard Cement Silo contract to Maxcem, and Bob Richards questioned the fairness of removing the condition to relocate the cement silos after making it a contractual requirement for the previous contract holder.

Burgess responded with: “It was unfair when they were in power. Unfair then. But I tell you, Mr. Speaker, they have had all the contracts — certain firms had all the contracts all those years and made lots of money. That was okay. It was okay, Mr. Speaker.  And, Mr. Speaker, it bores right back to racism. But anything to get some people that look like us to promote it. It’s unfair Massa. You know?”

Minutes Later: “They don’t like to hear the truth. They think they set the agenda. And if you don’t get their permission to use the bathroom, then you’ve done something wrong. Those days are over—they’re finished.  Get used to it. Get used to it. Right?  As the Honourable Member, Trevor Moniz says, It’s worse than it was.  To him it’s worse than it was, because he never thought—you never thought that you would have to come to the slaves’ children for an answer or for a decision. That’s their problem.  He doesn’t like that Mr. Speaker. And he had better get used to it.”

Finally, the fourth reason is that throughout all of the above not once did Burgess address the fairness of dropping the condition to relocate the silos.

Claims of racism have a wonderful way of silencing questions about incompetence, corruption and unethical behaviour. It also does a wonderful job of taking voters’ attention off subjects such as Burgess’ resignation in June, and whether or not we should be concerned about potential threats to Cox’s leadership. It does a wonderful job of helping voters forget every time “house nigger” or “uncle Tom” has sailed over a PLP supporter’s lips as well.  Integrity matters, “cousins”.  Don’t be bamboozled when there is a tremendous lack of it.

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