Opinion Writers

Opportunity wasted for OBA

  • Jeanne Atherden

The devastation of the July 18, 2017 General Election constituted the death knell of the One Bermuda Alliance. That papier-mâché party, stuck together by the tenuous glue of the former Bermuda Democratic Alliance and United Bermuda Party, has come apart at the seams and has been politically, structurally and fatally gutted by that event.

Kevin Comeau and others put it best in their analyses. The OBA’s post-election posture and awkward political gait would make the characters in Michael Jackson’s graveyard scene in Thriller blush and look like amateurs.

This death march to oblivion has been accelerated by the election of Jeanne Atherden, who is deeply enshrouded in UBP culture, tradition, apprenticeship and guidance. In truth, it was precisely these attributes, represented by the Trevor Monizes, Grant Gibbonses, Michael Dunkleys and Patricia Gordon-Pamplins that spectacularly lost the now UBP-tainted OBA the election of 2017.

Indeed, to be blunt, it was these very same characteristics that recently lost them Nick Kempe. You may rest assured that in rapid fire others will soon follow. The OBA is a fragile and fractured house in chaotic free fall with Titanic intentions. There is major dissension in its ranks, with no clear vision of where to go or how it should move forward. To date, it has been singularly silent on very key issues, thus permitting the Government inside and outside of Parliament to have its way, free from any meaningful challenge.

As I and others have mentioned before, the OBA lost any real hope of resuscitation and survival when it put forward for leadership Jeanne Atherden, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin and Craig Cannonier — he of Jetgate infamy. Like it or not, the trend is towards the “younger, up-and-coming politicians”, ready or not. In lacklustre political neophyte Jeanne Atherden, the OBA certainly did not come close to achieving that trend at all.

In fairness, the OBA really had only two viable options for longevity, although either of these alternatives would mean that this party would have to endure certain losses at the next two to three elections against younger, sharper and hungrier Progressive Labour Party aspirants led by the young, smart, hungrier David Burt, who is destined to be around for quite some time yet.

For balance and any ghost of a chance for viability, the OBA would have done reasonably well to have rebuilt around the Jeffrey Barons, Nick Kempes, Sylvan Richardses, etc, and pushed to the political archives and dustbins the earlier-mentioned UBP diehards and OBA also-rans.

A few, quick by-elections in these legacy constituencies would have accomplished that feat. Or the OBA ought to have disbanded, or quietly and unobtrusively phased itself out — as I suspect will happen inevitably within the next six to 12 months anyway. Such persons are then tasked to build a younger, sharper and hungrier new party in ten to 15 years’ time to seriously challenge for leadership of this country against the PLP and its young aspirants.

Meanwhile, Atherden’s feckless and puerile understanding of basic politics, stratagems and strategy, and slavish adherence to bad advice have led to her insensitive and inept handling of the Kempe matter. That debacle, however, is symptomatic of the deep fissures, generational and otherwise, in the OBA. It is noble of Kempe to say that he will support the OBA. But to be clear, for how long?

What in fact is it he can support about an OBA whose UBP bedrock continues to trumpet the fossilised mindset of regressive political Neanderthals? If we are talking about moving Bermuda forward in an equitable manner, there really is no return to the OBA for a young Nick Kempe or a Jeff Baron, who is silently and quietly moving away.

The meteoric rise and fall of the OBA has completed its loop. The OBA party is a “dead man” aimlessly lurching forward from pillar to post and back again. The OBA has run its course. It must now be given as decent and as honourable a burial as one can muster under the circumstances.

This state of affairs, of course, should give cause for concern for democracy, and of course, the leadership of the PLP, which must now govern the country with no real, effective opposition — except, of course, in time, the potential stirrings among its own ranks of very ambitious pretenders for and to the throne.

We shall see.

Philip Perinchief, a former Cabinet minister, was the Attorney-General under the Progressive Labour Party government between October 2006 and December 2007