The front page headline in the daily said it all: ‘PLP gets zero support from whites in survey’.
The recent poll, published in The Royal Gazette and conducted by the polling outfit Mindmaps, indicated that out of the 131 white people surveyed, not one would vote for the Progressive Labour Party — I assume — if an election were held today.
Now, this is the first time that I, or as the story confirmed, the paper in question, had ever seen a polling result, broken down along racial lines, which had resulted in no support at all, amongst the white electorate surveyed, in favour of the PLP.
The good news for the PLP however, from a purely political basis, and as indicated in the story, was that the finding is “not a statistical freak”, according to the pollsters and confirms a view about the largely white Bermudian electorate’s voting behaviour, that I have written and spoken about for years.
They acknowledge that the PLP has never achieved more than between one and five per cent of the white vote, in any case, since the advent of modern electoral politics, and this no matter the PLP leader who may have been in charge.
And it gets better — at least for the PLP — in that the survey also demonstrates that the PLP’s continued strong support amongst black Bermudians, means that the party’s overall vote share has increased.
From my perspective though, if I or any of us from our side of the political aisle speak to this issue and its implications for Bermuda, we are invariably labelled as troublemakers or at worst demonized; even characterized as racists by whites — many of whom have yet to fully examine their own racist legacy in this country. They prefer to pillory Minister Burgess, the Premier and me; but on this critical issue they remain characteristically silent. Unfortunately, they have even cowed some of our own colleagues to conform to this ‘double standard’.
The other irony — which the poll elicits — is that the approximately 76 to 78 per cent of the black electorate voting PLP, in the minds of too many Anglo/Portuguese and/or white Bermudians, as judged by the usual commentary associated with this issue, indicates our stupidity and our willingness to vote along racial lines.
Too many of them, I sense, view it as representing an expression of some sort of tribally induced racial solidarity. But the fact that a far higher number of whites (98.5 per cent /estimate) vote UBP — or perhaps, in future for the BDA — just shows their wisdom and their ability to make mature, individually determined political choices.
Their choices and motivations in other words, are principled, even noble; while ours, are always suspect and illegitimate.
My final point is that if they continue to exhibit such behaviour, they then have no right to lecture us on the voting behaviour and political preferences of over two thirds of those black Bermudians voters who do vote for the PLP; while remaining silent on the fact that after more than four decades of modern electoral politics in Bermuda, virtually every white voter, who does vote, votes UBP, and has been doing so throughout this period.
A fact that Messrs. Moniz, Dunkley, Gibbons and Fahy of the BDA, the most ardent proponents of this view, are apparently still not prepared to accept.
As my father would say: “Rolfe, the Clayhouse Inn was the one of the greatest nightclubs in Bermuda during my era, attracting black Bermudians and white tourists by the boatload, yet white Bermudians would not patronize the place. There were just too many blacks there for their liking; and they were culturally at least, poorer for it”.
I guess the same thing applies 40 odd years later, with respect to the PLP and the elusive self-segregating, white voter.