WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 9: Two elections, Christmas, and a year have come and gone. On our coral atoll at 32N64W, us lot have two new political leaders, a new year, a financial mess, and an uncertain future.

But as a nation we can pull together and get through the next few, hard years. Between 1972 and 1977, Bermudians went on a killing and burning spree. In 1980, Bermuda had its Gold year as a tourist resort. That turnaround happened because Bermudians talked and worked together.

There was a national brawl again in 1981. Again, Bermudians talked and worked together and came out of that and again surged upwards to a Silver year in Tourism.

Bermuda is now in an economic depression. However it happens, Bermuda must climb out of it and get back to economic growth. The alternative? Continuing economic decline with a consequential breakdown in a national social order that Bermuda has enjoyed for so long.

The true shape and real quality of our future national discourse will be defined over the next six months. Not by grand speeches made on special occasions; nor by well-crafted press releases.

Instead, that discourse will be defined in the hurly-burly of exchanges on the Parliamentary floor; comments made by public individuals; and the opinions of people who show their feelings on news websites and radio talk shows. Mostly, though, it will be led and defined by the tone, quality, and style of input by the Official Opposition as led by its newly elected leader, Marc Bean, MP.      

Between 2006 and 2012, whether intended or not, the governing PLP acquired a reputation for being unfriendly to business. For not understanding how Bermuda’s sophisticated, complex, and unique economy worked within the peculiar and particular dynamics of Bermuda’s geography, demography, and social history.

Between 2006 and 2012, the PLP used or attempted to use the massive sledgehammers of six year Term Limits and the Workplace Equity Act to fix things that they saw — that they uniquely saw — as things that were damaging to Bermuda’s social fabric — as they perceived that social fabric. However, as usually happens in real-life, what first pops up as the real problem is no more than a symptom of a deeper underlying fact or issue.

The PLP team that took over in 1998 took over the same geographic entity that the finally dead UBP had ruled for 35 years (some say — and I don’t disagree — for 378 years). However, the economy and society that the UBP had managed had actually changed. It had changed radically.

Unknown to the UBP, but also unknown to the PLP, Bermuda’s economy and Bermuda’s everyday social order and economy had undergone a total, absolute, and irrevocable change in 1994. In 1998, though apparently taking over the same entity that the UBP had ruled, the PLP had actually taken over an entirely and completely different national task. But in 1998, no one in either party knew that.

The UBP ruled over ‘Tourist Bermuda’. The UBP didn’t know it — and neither did the PLP — but the UBP handed over ‘Business Bermuda’. Business Bermuda was different. Business Bermuda operated completely differently from Tourist Bermuda. Business Bermuda had different demands, required different services, paid different and higher salaries, and needed a totally different kind of employee. 

Between 1994 and 2008, more than five thousand business residents came to reside and work in Bermuda. These were not tourists who came, stayed five or six days while interacting with their Bermudian hosts, and then flew back home.

These 5,000 new business residents came and stayed 365 days a year. These new business residents reacted differently to, applied different and new stresses to, and put different pressures on Bermuda’s indigenous population. This changed and different business Bermuda is what the newly elected PLP was required to manage and govern. However, bereft of the quality of data and information that any good management team needs, the PLP Government engaged in seat-of-the-pants management of what had arguably become the world’s most sophisticated, complex, and delicate economy with this economy operating in the unique setting of Bermuda’s geography, demography, and social history.

Particularly after 2007, the PLP responded to and focused on what they saw as their governance task. The PLP turned inwards and concentrated on servicing what it today describes as its ‘base’. In seeking to satisfy what it perceived as the needs and demands of its ‘base’, the PLP inadvertently created an environment that, on balance, became unfriendly to the very thing that the PLP needed for its political and economic survival. The PLP became ‘unfriendly’ to ‘Business Bermuda’ which was the entity that the PLP had actually taken over – whether it knew it or not – on November 9, 1998.

The PLP is now under new leadership.

Over the next few months, in full public sight and hearing, the whole machinery of the PLP will demonstrate, and in time demonstrate conclusively, whether or not it has learned this, accepts this, and adjusted to this. Whether it will work forward to make ‘Business Bermuda’ work for all Bermudians; or stay inwardly focused on what it calls its ‘base’.

The PLP will demonstrate this in a myriad of ways. Between 2007 and 2012, the PLP fashioned itself into a business unfriendly party. It did this through a series of individually unremarkable but collectively and accumulatively massive actions, utterances, and policy decisions.

The PLP will undo the damage that they have done to themselves and to Bermuda’s national economy in the same way. Over time, their individual utterances and statements will accumulate and mass into a whole national PLP opinion and perspective.

The new Opposition Leader, Marc Bean, MP, has a clear task. He must lead the PLP forward into this century. He must acknowledge and understand the Bermuda that is — not the Bermuda that the dead UBP once ruled. He must help lift Bermuda out of a largely self-created economic depression; and he must do this while helping to maintain good social order.

Summer is coming. By Cup Match we will be seeing and hearing the PLP’s real response. We will know what Marc and the PLP will have actually done.  

Like the moving finger, the inexorable march of time carrying with it the steady unrelenting accumulation of words and phrases, the massing and passing of many small events, will write the true tale.

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ, Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit, Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

— the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám.