Column: Completely Disillusioned By Politics

August 4, 2015

[Opinion column written by Jeremy Deacon]

Cup Match and the House of Assembly’s summer recess came at an opportune time for politicians and the public.

Both got a break from allegations of corruption for a few days and, for a few weeks, they also got a break from what can only be called the politics of the playground – or gutter – in the House.

I, for one, have become completely disillusioned by the politics and the politicians in Bermuda. It has become difficult to believe that they have the interests of the people at heart and that they live only in a self-serving bubble on the Hill.

Just think for five minutes and how many allegations of impropriety or scandals can you think of?

It’s easy to reel them off: JetGate which resulted in the resignation of the Premier [who was subsequently appointed as a Minister despite an on-going police investigation] and GamingGate – a U-turn on a promise to hold a referendum on gaming and ‘StoneGate’ [do I need to explain?]

Then there are the allegations of corruption made by would-be Hamilton waterfront developer Michael MacLean against Mark Pettingill, Craig Cannonier and Michael Fahy.

We also have the pending trial of PLP Leader Marc Bean in Magistrates’ Court and we have the Motion against the Speaker of the House who, previously, had had Mr Bean removed from the House of Assembly.

We have had name calling in the House [remember the viper remark] and we’ve had MPs who apparently almost came to blows in the House. We have had trips to the police station, trips to London, and calls to the Governor for investigations.

Those old enough will remember that it used to be case that politicians would step down to concentrate on clearing their names – it seems that has gone the same way as collective responsibility.

That list actually took me two minutes, not five, and you can see why it’s not difficult to feel disillusioned by our politicians and to get the impression that some MPs – not all – live in a self-congratulatory, self-promoting, impregnable bubble.

If you happy with the status quo, then you will get what you deserve. If you are not, are there any alternatives?

In the past, I have advocated having a Mayor of Bermuda Inc., with an elected Police Commissioner and an elected Attorney General, but the two party Westminster-style system of politics we have only has the interests of those two parties at heart so that will never happen.

But could the People use its collective voice to cause change?

For my adult life I have been an advocate of using my vote to help usher in change – or keep the status quo. But, in the light of everything that has happened, my attitude is changing. Increasingly I no longer see the Voters Rights Association as some well-meaning, but slightly pie in the sky, organization.

The VRA has been dormant since the last election and I use it as just an example of what could be.

Among its suggestions have been the right for constituents to recall their MPs and the right to have a referendum on issues, which if there is sufficient support, ie a fixed percentage of the electorate, will force Government to change policies.

Yes, the two party system does not support this either, but if the People raised a mighty petition in favour of some of the VRA’s ideas, could it be ignored? Would any politician risk the wrath of such a percentage of the electorate?

And just imagine how much fun it would be to have a referendum on Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell’s decision not to have a referendum on gaming. Oh, the irony.

Jeremy Deacon is a 30-year veteran of the media industry in Bermuda and the UK. He runs public relations company, Deep Blue Communications, and also engages in freelance journalism for publications in Bermuda and overseas.

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Comments (77)

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  1. Chris Famous says:

    Imagine the power of media houses actually doing investigative journalism.

    Then imagine a media company council ensuring that the media houses actually did so.

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      You do not understand the role of the Media Council – it is set up to respond to complaints only. It has no influence on how media companies choose to operate.
      If media companies in Bermuda decide to dedicate resources to investigative journalism that is their call and their call only.

      • Jeremy Deacon says:

        also, what has the Media Council got to do with the subject matter of my column?

        • Black Soil says:

          Jeremy…you speak of “allegations” as though they were truths. Jeremy, politics is politics. BTW an elected police commissioner and an elected attorney general would spell disaster. Can you imagine the things they would turn a blind eye to to get re-elected? Jeremy, a multi-party system is fine. Without political competition we all descent into dictatorship. Without open debate in the house where people voice disapproval we also fall into dictatorship. If listening to politicians talking crap disheartens you, I would get out of covering politics. It’s not going to change. Hey, in China EVERYONE gets along great. They get along even better in North Korea. Should we all look up to them? Jeremy NOT getting along is NORMAL. I suppose you never quarrel with family? Is that a sign of family weakness?…or a sign of family being family.

          • Jeremy Deacon says:

            I do not speak of allegations as anything other than allegations.

            • Black Soil says:

              But they vex you so Jeremy. Learn to accept the political competition as simply that. Your underlying ethos is that you have trouble with arguments and accusation. That is life. Your job is to see through all that and evaluate what both sides are really up to. Honestly, no one needs to hear you say things like “our political parties squabble so much, is there a better way?…why don’t we try this etc.” Christ, I hear that from my spouse and neighbours!….I don’t need it from you too….

              • Jeremy Deacon says:

                i have no problem with arguments and accusations, i have problems with the types of behavior and attitudes that have been displayed

                • A Better Place says:

                  Black Soil rears his head again and continues on his not so hidden agenda

          • Jeremy Deacon says:

            PLP supporter by any chance?

      • Geoff Parker Sr says:

        Finally.. someone remembers the Voters’ Rights Association!! As founder and co-chair with Stuart Hayward of the VRA we put in hundreds of hours of work with a team of volunteers to put together a proper Voters’ Bill of Rights. all to no avail as politicians have not in the past nor will they entertain such a concept in the future. Only the people can make this happen with at least 20,000 signatures.

        Not even the United Nations will entertain ‘political rights’ for the citizens of the world as part of their Charter… Bermuda could set a precedent by the people demanding political rights and evolve a proper new Constitution that was fit for the 21st Century that gave the people the control similar to the successful one of a kind political environment that exists in Switzerland!.. FYI the VRA did do a lot behind the scenes as we contributed positive data to the UK FCO over the years leading to some changes in certain areas locally.

        Many months ago a couple of younger persons wanted to take the VRA over and get it up and running again.. unfortunately our young people today do not have the much needed true commitment of a patriot to make it happen… they just want to sit on the side and let others do the work.. stepping up to resolve our problems with silver spoons in their mouths is not going to make it happen. find me 20 honest eager and unafraid intelligent no nonsense Bermudians that will sign on for a year.. who want to make the Voters Bill of Rights law… and i will come out of retirement and crack the whip!! Geoff Parker Sr

    • Sarcasmincaseyourdense says:

      Great idea to make media to hire more staff to do investigative journalism. I think we are onto something here, OBA promised us 2000 jobs, they should just past a law and make businesses hire 2000 people. Not only would we get 2000 jobs but we can force businesses to provide increased services too. Who cares about things like finances, let’s just tell private companies to hire people and provide mores services and let them find the money. Fantastic idea.

  2. A Better Place says:

    Well said Jeremy. It’s hard for anyone not to be disillusioned after reading the transcripts of the Michael McLean trial. Why in the world would they allegedly give legislation to his side kick and developer to read before it’s even passed in the House.

  3. TonyC says:

    It is also very, very evident that the vast majority of Jeremy’s areas of concern are either as yet unfounded allegations or general misconduct by the opposition.

    And to bring “stonegate” into it is laughable, a clear attempt to make a mountain out of a molehill.

    I could bring may, many, many “stonegates” from the previous administration into the arena, but they are also negligible in the overall picture.

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      You could say then, that the PLP was making a mountain out of a molehill when they – and only they – highlighted the issue of ‘stonegate’?
      Whether they are unfounded allegations or not, they continue to surface, which, in itself, is depressing.

      • TonyC says:

        My point is “stonegate”, is not, was not, and never should have been, an issue. It was a bunch of stone mistakingly taken away following a misunderstanding by an employee.

        Now if I was to mention ministers instructing civil servants to ignore contractual terms, and thus letting contractors get away with large sums of money to which they were not entitled, now THAT would be something worth kicking up a fuss about.

        But “stonegate”? Don’t make me laugh.

        • A Better Place says:

          I think that was Jeremy’s point…that stonegate was even mentioned by the opposition highlighted their complete lack of political maturity

        • Jeremy Deacon says:

          so why not mention those things then? Stonegate had to be mentioned as it was such a ridiculous thing that could have been avoided and which still created a huge amount of noise which, for me, contributed to a sense of ‘wtf’!

        • Sabrina says:

          So name them. For years we have been hearing that the PLP were corrupt. Missing money, cedar but nothing substantial. Name them and the instances instead of just innuendo.

          The PLP have no problem in naming those persons and instances they feel are corrupt.

          • Jeremy Deacon says:

            agreed, get the evidence and name

          • gwan says:

            It’s all coming , don’t you worry bout it.

            • Jeremy Deacon says:

              When?

            • Jeremy Deacon says:

              Comments like this are just as bad as the PLP making accusations (unchallenged) at press conferences about ‘nefarious’ goings on by the OBA – they never produce the evidence to back it up, so it just adds up to more posturing and more disillusionment … if you are making a statement of fact, back it up with fact not gossip and heresay

            • A Better Place says:

              DO you know this for a fact or is this just wishingful thinking or you heard it from someone. I just don’t want to celebrate prematurely

          • Zevon says:

            How about Roban and the planning deal for Furbert and Zane?
            Oh no. Can’t bring that up. That’s “different”.

          • What evidence? (Especially when we had / have the fox watching the chicken.)

          • TonyC says:

            And risk my job, no thanks, let’s leave it to the authorities to continue their case building.

      • TonyC says:

        Unfounded allegations are generally intended to deceive. Mud sticks etc. If I was to put it out there in a public forum that someone might have slept with someone else’s wife, and kept implying it enough times, then there would be people who would believe that it was true.

        You surely can’t hold that against the victim, but sure as eggs are eggs you can draw your own conclusions against the person (or party) making the allegations.

        • Impressive says:

          similiar to the cedar beams in someone’s house I suppose?

        • Impressive says:

          So, Jetgate was only an unfounded allegation? An allegation which led to the Premier resigning along with the Chairman of the party,, hmmmm. So what conclusions are you drawing regarding the persons who made these allegations sir???

      • hmmm says:

        Why no mention of Demongate, Ganjja healthcare gate, Toys out of pram gate, Threat gate, threat gate 2 (the sequel).

        Just because someone Marcs them as gates they become relevant????

        Sounds like you are a victim of the PLP propaganda spin cycle.

        • A Better Place says:

          An $2 a lick-gate

        • Jeremy Deacon says:

          there are all those as well – like I said, it took me two minutes to come up with my list. Imagine if a group of people spent some time together to really research it?

      • Then CEDAR BEAMS should have not been an issue too.
        Tic Toc

        • hmmm says:

          Bermuda Cedar Beams are rare and fetch a handsome price.

    • Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

      A bunch of molehills becomes a mountain….

      • hmmm says:

        No they don’t.

        They make a bunch of mole hills. Have you ever seen mole hills ?

  4. PBanks says:

    There are many who are equally disillusioned by local politics, problem is they always get dwarfed by the political party machinery and their associated cheerleaders, and thus either choose the ‘lesser of two evils’ or just disassociate from the process completely.

    It’s not in the interest of either party to revamp the system either, so we’re all stuck with Option A or B come election time.

  5. Terry says:

    Can’t wait for Americacupgate.

    Jeremy.
    Take a pill.

  6. Chris Famous says:

    Jeremy if the politicians had a healthy fear of the media then they would be more accountable

    The fact that they do not means they get good press in the daily print media when they should be answering seriously questions that are of concern to the public

    The same public that wonder why the media does not do more investigative journalism.

    To be fear not all media house can afford full time investigative reporters

    But those that can should

    Do you disagree with that?

    • Bermy says:

      Media houses are for profit institutions. So there #1 concern, keeping shareholders in mind, is turning a profit. Investigative journalism needs to be commercially viable.

      I agree that it would be good to have a mechanism for tough reporting that holds politicians to account but hard to impose on a commercial enterprise.

      Jeremy’s point is that we can’t expect our politicians to fix our broken political system. The only thing that can provoke change is a rising voice of the people. It is unfortunate that our public leaders often are so quick to side with a political party that they become part of the broken system. However, with technology these days the people’s voice is becoming louder and louder!

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      Of course the media has a very important role to play in that, but you clearly do not understand where the media stand economically and historically.
      The legacy media – here and everywhere else – have no cash, revenues are down and owners are trying to reach almost unheard of profit margins.
      It means that their biggest cost – people – are going, which then means that to simply fill the paper with news, too many organization have to resort to churnalism.
      It must be the happiest days for politicians because, unless boards and CEOs change tack they will be in for an easy ride.
      Legacy media – generally the ones with the biggest resources – are also seeing a splintering of readership and ad revenue. they are battling – largely unsuccessfully at the moment – to reinvent themselves.
      The media is also only one part of holding politicians to account and as that gets weaker – we need to look at other areas: the right of recall (i cannot think of greater accountability) and referrenda

  7. What bothers me is they don’t do as they are told to do…I tollem we require less duty on vehicles to promote sales thereof…I tollem legalise maijuanna to control violence and provide tourist income…I tollem provide insurance…real insurance…that we can afford at cost as U.S…..healthcare that does not create monopoly…scuse me?…I choose who…and how much….did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in? I thinks that’s how politicians spend their lives!

  8. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    Politics is a healthy Process….! It is the ballot or the bullet. That is your option!You choose…….I accept either…….

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      the politics in Bermuda is not healthy – it is the opposite: destructive; blatantly self-serving and frankly piss poor – no subtlety just noise, deafening noise

  9. aceboy says:

    The PLP would have a field day with your suggestions. There would be utter confusion.

  10. If you drive a car I’ll tax the street, if you try to sit I’ll tax your seat,if you get too cold I’ll tax your heat,if you take a walk I’ll tax your feet….

  11. Alvin Williams says:

    Speaking of the media council I had the honour of being penalize for telling the truth and judging to what happen to the union on the job site where I understand there is no union presence just as I said would happen well par for the course for a lukewarm media who for the most part will put their tail between their legs while they give the unthinkable a pass.

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      If I remember correctly you (the worker’s voice) refused to accept the Media Council’s ruling and stopped being a member, or were you expelled?
      Frankly I don’t know why this story needs any mention of the media council – it is irrelevant to the topic.

  12. Accurate says:

    Some have always known it. Some have had an inkling about it lately. Some will not know or admit the truth of it until it is driven into their conscience with the unstoppable force of the soon to come nuclear debt bomb.

    Bermuda is not big enough to be a real country.

    Any realistic measurement method used has the same conclusion when applied to almost any issue here.
    Just not enough people with the same skill/talent/understanding/perspective moving in the same direction to make a difference in anything.

  13. Huh says:

    Lest we forget, Dr. Brown August 2015:“We must return the government to the PLP. I will say this again in another way. I am calling for an organized effort to take back the government – starting right now! Right here! We cannot afford to wait 3 more years for an election. There will be nothing left for our people. We must unite; we must re-connect with ourselves; we must be PRIDELESS; we must be DRIVEN; we must have singular FOCUS.

    “Terry and Randy, we need you to come home and be on the right side of history. In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “the time is always right to do the right thing.”

    “PLP defectors to the OBA, we need you to listen to that prickly conscience that must bother you more and more each day as you see how this OBA Government has deceived you. Dr. King would say: “Never, never be afraid to do what’s right…. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”

    “To OBA parliamentarians who care about everyday Bermudians and see what is happening, Dr. King might advise: “Conscience asks the question, is it right? For there comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”

    • Terry says:

      Once a BBC supporter; always.
      By any means necessary.

    • hmmm says:

      Typical PLP BS….. i.e.

      Hide your inability to run a country for the good of the country and its people by spouting fearmongering nonsense, but ensure spouting includes reference to historic figures who changed landscapes in a WEAK and SHAMEFUL attempt to make people think there is some sort of a parallel or that the spouting has relevance.

    • Rockfish#2 says:

      August 2015?

  14. Terry says:

    Irony is Jeremy has no control over the media anymore.

    Which he did back at his old job

    Control is a bitch when you want your point made and viewed.

    Just a back seat passenger with lots to say.

    Shalom.

  15. Chris Famous says:

    here is the thing Jeremy

    I agree with the right of recall and giving people the ability to initiate referendums

    But you know as well as anyone else that unless sustained pressure is put on the government of the day by the people and the press it will not happen

    If legacy media has the funds to pay sports reporters and or lifestyle reporters they have the funds to pay and investigative reporter.

    heck they had funds to pay a lawyer recently to fight a case that they did not really have to fight.

    My point is that politicians in this country have a free ride to do as they wish, including the things that bring about allegations. The daily is seemingly slowly turning into a society page to highlight the daily activities of the current premier.

    yet at the same time they do not go after the hard questions about said allegations. The media houses that do bother to go after these guys are threatened subliminally with loss of advertisers.

    So again a free reign for politicians to do as they will.

    When persons complain about lack of investigative journalism should not the MC in this country have concerns?

    Anyway as usual nice debating with a hull city tiger…

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      The MC is simply not set up like that. It is there to deal with complaints – the same as every media/press council around the world.

      In the same way you should never legislate the press, you should never have one body controlling them.

      Now, I there may be a place for the MC to do more in terms suggesting, cajoling and asking – but at the end of the day, it is up to the individual companies to do as they see best for their company.

      I will never support a single body that controls the media – and I will actively campaign against it.

  16. Paget says:

    Jeremy, I agree with most of your points. We have far too many unanswered questions of a very, very serious nature. This is not only related to the OBA but way back to PLP days, namely under Ewart Brown and forward. What ever happened to all of the alleged investigations that we kept hearing about in which these old deeds would be unearthed? This has been going on for too many years. There is indeed no accountability, humility and very little pride left in Bermuda. It seems to be every ‘man’ for himself and whatever cost. Very disheartening indeed. Far too many people have lost trust and faith in our political system.

    Regarding more proactive investigative reporting, I think you know better than most that as soon as any media group attempts to unearth the truth, the lawyers come out and everyone starts slamming the word law suit around (as if we have become Americanized). The media has been beaten into submission due to the legal attacks and cannot afford the huge fines / penalties if even one word is out of context. I agree that controls must be put in place, but it has gone to the other extreme. I feel that freedom of the press- so to speak- has been smashed with a hammer. Therefore, it allows our world of politricks in Bermuda to flourish, both PLP and OBA. Everyone is hiding behind their legal counsel and the media counsel also plays a role.

    People need to realize that Bermuda is a very tiny country and cannot be measured or compared to any other place that I am familiar with. We have far too many people in government and political roles for such a tiny place. In larger countries, we would compare to a small town with a mayor and some council members. Egos and reality are completely out of alignment with the size and context of who, what and where Bermuda fits into the bigger picture. But, let’s not even get started about “mayors” as that’s an entirely different issue here in Bermuda!!!!!

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      If the investigative report is factual and the facts are proven there is no lawyer in the world that can stop it from being published.
      the issue is lack of resources – see my previous posts: when you get a media company that is leaking money or you want to raise profit margins to unheard of levels you have to make savings/cut costs.
      The media is reliant solely on people – it is their biggest cost, so guess what happens?
      Believe me – I’ve had experience of investigative reporting (actually the subject scared the hell out of me….. and on one occasion i was told by the police to back off for my own safety) and I know the level of resources that are needed and they do not exist in Bermuda
      Now, if someone wants to fund me …..:)

      • Paget says:

        Agreed that factual investigative reporting should not end up in the courts, but it is the strength and tenacity of the threats of publishing the ‘facts’ that is a major problem right now. Some media houses do their best to get the cold hard facts out in the public domain and as soon as they do so, the emails and telephone calls begin minutes later with threats of lawsuits and worse! I reckon it to bullying or perhaps ‘mafia tactics’ (lol) to keep the real information from coming out. So, while in some cases there is a lack of resources, my opinion is that it is far more serious than that. It is media oppression via verbal ‘threats’, many of which are completely unfounded, untrue and only serve to keep information private for the wrong reasons… but that’s just my opinion based on personal experiences.

  17. Rockfish#2 says:

    I listened to MP Bascome on the Shirley Dill talk show on Sunday 2 August. He claimed Opposition Leader Mark Bean and McLean (yes, he of Corporation of Hamilton /Bda Government lawsuit fame!) offered him the Ministry of Tourism post if he crossed the floor. MP Bascome claimed other MP’s were also offered similar deals!
    IF this is true, what role does McLean play in the PLP?

  18. Rockfish#2 says:

    *****MPs

  19. Pookie Boo says:

    A Bermuda Nursery school could do a better job than some of the clowns OF BOTH PARTIES in the affairs of we Bermudians. The PLP has no interest but their own and often the OBA shoots itself in the foot ( not as often as SOME of the PLP members ). The answer. Elect SESAME street to run our affairs or hire Donald Trump to run the island as if it were a BUSINESS. We would have had to file for Chapter 11 if this was a real world company quite a few years ago. Perhaps go back 14 years?

  20. Question? says:

    Jeremy are you even Bermudian or did you just apply and flip flop here from another country?

    If you don’t like the politics on this island you can all ways return to the place which you came from.

    • Unbelievable says:

      Oh here we go. Another ignorant comment.

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      I was waiting for this one ….. 1. If I want to, I can comment on the state of politics in any country, period. It is freedom of speech. 2. if I do have to justify locally: my wife is Bermudian, my children are Bermudian, I own a part of the rock, I give work to Bermudians, I pay my tax, HIP, social insurance to the Govt (on time) and I contribute greatly to the local economy.

      I really had hoped that I would not be typing this reponse although i knew it would happen at some stage ….

    • Paget says:

      So put your hand up if you arose directly from the soil of the original Bermuda islands!? Or, did we all somehow and at some point hundreds of years ago, come via boat to this beautiful island? Please stop the xenophobia everyone. We wouldn’t be where we are today without very experienced expats that have almagamated into our small society and formed the Bermuda that we know today. No country is 100 percent anything. We are a world of immigrants!

  21. Unbelievable says:

    Jeremy, this is a good piece but clearly the discussion has gone right off the rails. It looks like the electorate in some parts is just as bad as the politicians.

    • Jeremy Deacon says:

      Thank you. Yes the discussion has gone off the rails …..

  22. Oh,I see now says:

    As far as politicians go in this beautiful island of ours,I believe we have long ago used up all the popular colors in the crayon box……..

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