[Written by Jonathan Starling, who contested C#20 as an Independent]
I would like to congratulate Ms Susan Jackson, the victor in Constituency 20. Her victory was comprehensive, even if her margin of victory (78%) was lower than the then UBP’s victory in the 2007 election (83%). I enjoyed the conversations I had with Ms Jackson in between shaking hands with constituents, and I trust that she will represent her constituents well in the House of Assembly.
Mr Starling & Ms Jackson at the polling station:
I would also like to commend the other two candidates, Marcus Jones for the PLP and the other Independent candidate David Petty.
While the PLP has suffered a defeat in this election, and now embarks on the difficult task of rebuilding, in my opinion Mr Jones represents the quality and calibre of members that the PLP has at its disposal. I sincerely hope that Mr Jones remains active in the Party, especially in front-line politics – I personally feel that in the current context he would be an excellent Senator.
Mr Petty waged a good fight, and I also hope that he continues to be engaged in politics. He no doubt suffered from the same challenges that I and other Independents had in this election, a combination of limitations in resources compared to the awesome party machineries of the PLP and the OBA, as well as particular aspects of the election this time (with many reducing it to an apocalyptic ‘us and them’ scenario concerning the two parties).
I continue to believe that our political system requires serious reform, and that there is a role for Independent candidates and non-traditional political parties to facilitate this change. The large number of Independent candidates in this election (15), the votes for Independents (695), the large number of spoiled ballots (at least 150), and the reduced voter turnout (about 67%), as well as the racial break-down of the vote (as indicated by polls), all speak to the profound failures of the existing system and campaign styles.
The OBA now faces the challenge of forming a Government in an extremely difficult situation, both in terms of the social and economic malaise of Bermuda, and their slim parliamentary majority. These factors, combined with the rise of social media as a material force in Bermudian political discourse, mean it is possible that their honeymoon period will not last much longer than the Christmas holiday period.
I am sure that the people will hold them to account, and that with a strong Opposition (at least numerically) we are entering a new period in Bermudian politics that will make for some turbulent, but constructive times. I trust, too, that the OBA, as inheritors of the UBP mantle (in many ways), have learned from their years in Opposition, and will be humble and constructive in their governance.
For the PLP, they now face a period of crisis, but I have faith in their resilience and ability to collectively evaluate their mistakes and reorganise as a re-energised, strong and dedicated Opposition force.
I, and others, will be observing their rebuilding process eagerly, as a strong and effective Opposition is important for our political system, especially so with the social and economic problems we face today and into the next parliament.
They have a proud history, one of extreme importance for our island, and we all need them to carefully, confidently and critically reorganise, whether we support them, the OBA, or others.
For myself, I have learned much from my experience in this election. I will spend the next period critically reviewing what I did, and how I can improve on this experience. I remain committed to developing an alternative political voice committed to gender, racial and economic equality, as well as a strong position for a more sustainable and green society.
I look forward to working with others to build on my experience – and that of other Independents – and on expanding the platform which I ran on. I encourage others to join me in this process, and will maintain my website and Facebook page so as to facilitate feedback and progress towards realising a new politics and discourse for our island.
I thank my all those who have supported me in this endeavour, be they in Constituency 20 or throughout the island (as well as Bermudians overseas). Many helped me with developing my platform, or with other aspects of my campaign, be it in terms of canvassing, technical support or other. I apologise to all of them for not being more successful this time around, but I look forward to working with them, and others, for the future.
- Jonathan Starling