Al Seymour

Boy! We have some growing up to do on this island

  • House of Assembly

There have been discouraging signs from our House of Parliament where elected officials are expected to deal with the business of the people in a manner that sends a clear signal that disagreements should never sink to a level where bitter personal exchanges become a distraction from the many important issues that need solid leadership to steer the island in the right direction.

The people have every right to question the motives of any Member of Parliament who engages in what amounts to schoolyard language in responding to a remark by another Member. We know the Speaker of the House is the keeper of protocol, and history has shown that any deviation from proper conduct by any Member is usually met with a stern warning that the Honourable House will not tolerate improper conduct.

Somehow over the years there has been a drift towards personal attacks between political groups, with previous House Speakers having to bring the hammer down on such behaviour with occasions when a Member has been evicted for not fully complying with rules of conduct. Every Member of Parliament, irrespective of political affiliation, should know that they will be held accountable for expected deportment, and that the people deserve the very best from those elected to serve this island community.

The people of Bermuda are aware that emotions and tempers can flare during heated exchanges, especially over sensitive issues and with Bermuda having a history of social injustice, but those on both sides of that history also know that we have attempted to move away from that chapter where a badly chosen word could incite a reaction that in a sense is as damaging as the poor use of the word.

We must move away from that type of nonsense because the time used in trying to restore a sense of responsible order is time that should have been spent on tackling the problems that many Bermudians would rather be prioritised on improving our economy for benefit of all. That is still a big task for the new Progressive Labour Party government, and the leadership must remain totally focused on not only being transparent, which is a challenging word in most democratic governments, but it must be seen to be upholding those values they held high before being elected.

The party in power is always being watched whether it is the PLP, the One Bermuda Alliance or any other political entity. The people, believe it or not, can sense when something occurs that seems outside of promised transparency in dealing with all matters of the people’s business. That transparency issue is a tightrope walk for any government, but when the public start to lose confidence, it is usually a sign that something could be wobbly at the political control centre. We all know where that is.

Both the Government and the Opposition need to set an example for the entire Bermudian community that they are capable of rising above the name-calling and negativity to better serve Bermuda.

There are too many problems to list here, but they require urgent attention. While an outburst in Parliament may provide a catchy soundbite or headline, solving problems requires cool, collective thinking from both sides. Unless our Honourable representatives are willing to work together in a more co-operative and respectful manner, progress for Bermuda will be slow. The people of this island deserve better.

A glance around the world should be enough to remind Bermudians of how fortunate we are, but also that we should never take it all for granted. We may be a small speck in the Atlantic, but we are very much a part of the world.