So this is it. I didn't know how to put the words together to actually describe this election, truthfully it isn't such an easy task. You have on one side undoubtedly the most successful opposition in Bermuda history and on the other hand you have a government whose political momentum continually fluctuated throughout their administration.
In all fairness to the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) they have done close enough to what their supporters expected from them.
Austerity, growth in some sectors, policies focused on big business, amendments to the Human Rights Act, reducing the civil service and of course, their factum magnum, the America's Cup.
However, in an island where politics are completely polarised by race, the OBA didn't need to convince its support base much. Galvanize periodically maybe, but the aim should have been to convince those who could guarantee their political survival. The Black Majority. Quite simply put. They. Did. Not.
Or maybe they didn't convince me? That's not to say the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) was more palatable itself, in some instances yes, but for the most part both parties were short in class.
Let me expand.
In January 2013, then Minister of Home Affairs, Senator Michael Fahy announced that term limits would be abolished on work permits. The intent behind this initiative was to spur Bermudian employment opportunities. However, as this 2016 employment brief clearly shows, Bermudian jobs declined; steadily I might add.
From 26,187 to, 23,576 between 2011 and 2015. Black Bermudian jobs declined from 20,189 to 17,823 during that same period.
Here's the kicker, Bermudians lost 4,080 jobs between 2011 and 2015.
- Black Bermudians lost 90.6% of those jobs.
- White Bermudians lost 9.4% of those jobs.
That initiative failed. It padded the OBA’s stats to show that there was a steep decrease in work permits issued during their administration, and rightfully so, when term limits are unconditional how many more will you have to hand out to maintain the status quo?
The full brunt of this policy was felt the most in the restaurant industry where 1644 jobs existed in 2015.
Bermudians occupied 29.5% of those jobs.
This is quite a touchy statistic because honestly, who wants their kids cooking food and taking orders? Not me. I do it, but I don't want my son to ever have to.
That aside, it would be great if only 29.5% of the restaurant industry jobs were filled by Bermudians if Bermudian employment in high income industries was extremely high. However, this isn't the case. Almost 16% of actuaries in Bermuda are Bermudian, 31.2% of level one accountant positions are filled by Bermudians, 37.1% of doctors are Bermudian, 40% of Registered Nurses are Bermudian, I can go on I swear, but for time…
This failed. The OBA’s attempt to employ the largest demographic in Bermuda failed.
So putting the failed promise of 2,000 jobs aside, the social climate in Bermuda has absolutely blown the mercury. I won't go into it, but my white friends reading this know they’ve heard about it.
However, my black friends have experienced it. Which leads me to believe that this government doesn't actually understand its own election slogan “Forward Together”.
Here’s an example of forward together. Sunday mornings I play football at Police Field. Nothing serious, just a few mates kicking a ball around.
I didn't actually know about it until a relative invited me one day.
So Sundays I play football at Police Field and there’s this elderly gentleman there every other week ‘spiking the grass’.
This seems strange to me so I decided to engage in conversation with him one day. The man explained to me that he goes to police field because he is a member of a football club that uses the field. Fields in Bermuda are in bad condition. He physically, in the hot sun, removes the weeds so that everyone who uses the field could have a decent surface to play on.
He even created an area, with, and I’m not lying to you, “enhanced Bermuda grass” which teams can train on to keep the match pitch area fresh. This man makes no money from doing this, he intends to continue until 2020 when he predicts his new turf will grow into the entire field. That is Forward Together.
He’s not a politician, he didn't promise me a thing, but what he is doing actively improves the conditions of my life and others around me for the short and long term.
Forward Together isn't “We’ll pay your newborns”, or “Kumbaya Merica’s Cup”.
It's the Filipino waiter who teaches Bermudians to serve customers. It's the expat accountant who referees on the weekend. It's the old man who spikes the fields by hand. It's the E.F Gordons.
The OBA, in my opinion, doesn't actually understand this, as they seem to be trying to ‘fix the black problem’ instead of actually trying to foster positive relationships between blacks, whites, non-Bermudians and Bermudians.