FRIDAY, NOV. 9: As the General Election approaches, my advice to voters is to reflect upon previous PLP political tactics used to replace our concerns about major leadership issues with anger towards Bermuda’s racist past.

For example, in 2007 the major issue was the Bermuda Housing Corporation scandal. Now consider the purpose of candidate Lavitta Foggo’s warning one week prior to the last election:

“A UBP vote is a vote back to the plantation. It is a vote that will return the shackles to our feet!”

“It is a vote that will keep us as slaves because the UBP has one aim; to ensure we, the working class, the underprivileged, never get our fair share of that economic pie!”

This kind of political rhetoric is akin to ripping off the scab to a wound that has yet to fully heal. The intent here is to have voters focus on racism instead of alleged corruption. 

It would appear that the then-leader of the UBP, Wayne Furbert (not to be confused with current PLP Minister of Tourism, Wayne Furbert), anticipated these kinds of tactics months earlier: 

‘Opposition Leader Wayne Furbert claimed last night that Government had created a culture in which people who “dare” to speak out against those in power could expect repercussions.

Mr Furbert said during a speech at a UBP meeting in Smith’s West that the PLP focused on buzzwords and catchphrases which sounded good but meant little.

He said the party excelled at “slogans and empty gestures” but was “failing miserably” to meet the needs of its people.

“Remember ‘the new Bermuda’? What has that come to mean? Remember ‘the social contract’? What was that all about?” he said. “How about ‘sustainable development’? Where is it today?

“Now we have ‘the next level’. So far the next level is a place where Government pits people against each other, where racial slurs are part of public dialogue and where the Government will come after you if you dare to disagree.”’

Royal Gazette, March 7, 2007:

Mr Furbert’s 2007 comments can actually be very helpful when used to review what we’ve seen so far in 2012.

Buzzwords & catchphrases

During the last 12 months we’ve seen so many buzzwords and catchphrases that it’s hard to keep up.

Consider the following which have been repeated incessantly: “OBA/UBP”;  “Cannonier/Dunkley” or “Craig/Bob”;  “OBA rich friends”; “OBA’s hidden agenda”;  “Combined Opposition”;  and “Anonymous bloggers”.

Slogans & empty gestures

The 2012 slogan ‘Standing Strong for Bermudians’ and its multiple promises should be viewed cynically when seen through the lens of the 2007 campaign.  For example:

“The PLP will provide free DayCare for all Bermudians. That’s a big difference between us and the UBP. The UBP will only provide day care for so-called ‘needy’ families. Our DayCare programme will provide free day care for all Bermudian children from six months through preschool.”

When DayCare was introduced, it was limited to those households that earn less than $70k per year.  Today it is set even lower at $55k.  In other words, the PLP ended up doing exactly what they claimed that the UBP would do.

Pitting people against each other

This statement was eerily prophetic when we consider that the day after releasing declining tourism numbers in August, the PLP’s Tourism Minister claimed that a tourist had decided not to visit Bermuda due to having read racist online comments allegedly made by Michael Dunkley’s “secret troops”. We later learn that no such statement concerning racist, anonymous bloggers was made by a tourist.

It looked like an attempt to pit OBA/PLP and whites/blacks against each other for political gain.

Racial slurs are part of public dialogue

Appointing LaVerne Furbert to the Senate destroyed any hope of a more moderate PLP under Paula Cox’s leadership, but we should be more concerned about the large number of 2012 candidates who have previously demonstrated no hesitation when utilizing racial slurs.

We’ll come after you if you disagree

People are afraid to speak out with good reason, because doing so almost instantly gets you labelled as a sellout, Uncle Tom, house nigger, and so on.

Additionally, in The Royal Gazette’s October 5, 2010 edition, Dr Eva Hodgson implied that name-calling was just the tip of the iceberg:

“Sometimes the political elite in the PLP have been far more effective in punishing those supporters whom they might dislike than they have been in coming up with ideas and proposals to benefit the entire black community.”

Both Dr Hodgson’s and Mr Furbert’s comments call for us to appreciate that these political tactics are designed to keep black voters within the PLP voter base even when they don’t want to be.

As Mr Furbert stated in 2007, “This is probably going to be the toughest election that we have ever fought in Bermuda... We will probably hear more things than we have ever heard before coming out of the mouths of the PLP. This is about turf, this is about power. It’s about greed.”

In 2012 we have a choice of letting history repeat itself, or voting out politicians who have consistently utilized political tactics intended to deceive and exploit us for their own selfish benefit.

 

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