Opinion: Politics For Public, Not Private Gain

March 11, 2014

karen_magnum[Opinion column written by Karen Magnum, Party Secretary, One Bermuda Alliance]

My goal when entering politics was to try to help save our country from bankruptcy and make changes to our parliamentary system.

I knew our system was archaic and inherently divisive, however being in the midst of the political game has been a huge eye opener.

Parliamentary rules can be strengthened for better governance, but at the end of the day the most important thing to have is good people committed to governing for the public good.

Public office should never be about private gain. It should only be about public gain, and our elected officials should set the highest standards of conduct for all to see.

The way our MPs speak, the way they get on with people are important indicators of just who they are and what they think.

This past Monday, during the debate on the Cabinet Office, Opposition Leader Marc Bean was criticizing the Government for a whole lot of things – intimidation, having a “Zorro” complex, “feeding at the trough of crony capitalism”, “playing with numbers”, “sticky” accounting and being “banana republic”.

He was in full partisan flight, and then he said something extraordinary, “It’s the contracts, that’s the real reason why you all fight and sacrifice to get into this House to have political power, cause that’s the gravy train. Yeah, hello for those of you who are just coming into politics, that’s Politics 101 around the world…

“Again Politics 101, contracts… the gravy of politics is contracts.”

This from the leader of the Opposition; absolutely shocking.

I did not get into politics to aid and abet a gravy train. The thinking is just so foreign to me and the people I work with.

Where does this kind of thinking come from? Is that really what Mr. Bean thinks about politics – getting a piece of the action? Is that his experience in government?


I just want to use this space to let Mr. Bean know that that there are lots of people in this world with integrity, lots of people who get involved in politics to make their world a better place. In saying that, I am sure I can include some of Mr. Bean’s colleagues. I’m sure they must have cringed when he said what he said because it’s a view that cannot stand; not here, not anywhere.

Politics can’t be about me first. It can’t be about party first. It’s got to be about people first, country first, Bermuda first.

I am still an optimist, full of hope for Bermuda, but when I hear the Leader of the Opposition say such things my hope wilts because Bermuda needs everyone on all sides doing what is right for the Island and its people.

We don’t need people who see politics as a grab for the so-called gravy train. Not one bit.

- Karen Magnum

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Comments (37)

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    Who u kidding Karen???FOH!!!!

    • About Face says:

      So what do you think about Mr. Bean’s comments as we already know what you think of the messenger?

    • Ess Ess Dee says:

      This article requires a big “YAWN”. Pls stick to the gym because current events are certainly not your forte!

  2. ya right says:

    She’s obviously lost.

  3. hmmm says:

    Sounds like Bean showing his true side again.

  4. Terry says:

    If this keeps up from the PLP I see a rough and stumbling road ahead.
    Then again.
    By any means necessary comes to mind.
    Perks are a bitch and having lost they feel the pain.

  5. el says:

    Mr. Marc Bean called it exactly as it is, it is all about CONTRACTS!!!I don’t know what politics you, ‘karen” studied but if contracts are not signed NO ONE gets paid and if you don’t know that or won’t admit to the truth than I fail to see how you think you will help Bermudians. there are some of us outside of your sphere who overstand that members of parliament and police are services provided for the indigenous of the land for their Protection, and if you ever took an oath you would know that , (but since you haven’t we only have your word for how you feel) and Mr. Bean was very clever in stating that because all around the world nothing is considered legit unless it is a signed contract,.. if you and others were truly sincere you would actually acknowledge the truth about what (CONTRACTS) contracts represent.. if there is no contract there is no business!! whether it be you, MPs or anyone else.. The Law requires some form of agreement to exist, and it is acknowledged through contracts ,.. same with Treatys and Constitution. So with your concern for the public purse and the the people you can start with the truth and explain to them how you are even capable of assisting anyone in your capacity as secretary to a party that is also the ruling government, and has from the beginning been more concern with foreigners, who are given certain “citizen rights” while other Bermudians are still wondering why they are being ignored.

    • Anon says:

      el al

      What an disgusting and truly disturbing post. You hatred and ignorance jumps off the page. Either don’t understand the original article or you are so blinded by the political pontifications that have been happening that you are honestly buying into it. You might want to read up on a little economics while you’re at it. A global perspective might be what you need.

  6. Mike Hind says:

    Explains a LOT, don’t it?

    • what in the world says:

      Could you tell me what it explains?

      • Mike Hind says:

        Well, it explains the desperation we see.
        And motivations…

  7. Need Peace says:

    In light of the recent activity and proposed amendments by our government, screams of these things of which Mr. Bean speaks of. That has ALWAYS been the perception. Welcome to the real world!

  8. Annani says:

    ‘Politics for public not private gain’, Really tho!?!?!?

    Karen tell me more about how Bob Richards wants to sell off the airport, one of the assets that actually help to decrease the deficit. This means that in the end the public lose because of a lager budget deficit but the private business man wins with a govt contract? Am I right?

    • Trainer says:

      Actually the airport records a near $9.5mn loss per annum. So apparently you are wrong.

      Having cleared that up what is your take on Mr. Bean’s claims that all politicians seek power to get in on the ‘gravy train’ contract deals?

    • Anon says:

      Dude seriously. The plan to sell off the airport has been on the government radar for years and I doubt they held the plan off so that Bob Richards could a pie a the pie. A little less with the conspiracy theories and a little more understanding of economics please.

      • Rules of Order says:

        Really Anon,
        Take the chip of dude…arrogance does not engender any type of understanding…just keep it simple bro!

  9. About Face says:

    “It’s the contracts, that’s the real reason why you all fight and sacrifice to get into this House to have political power, cause that’s the gravy train. Yeah, hello for those of you who are just coming into politics, that’s Politics 101 around the world…

    “Again Politics 101, contracts… the gravy of politics is contracts.”

    So if any of you guys were in doubt about the integrity of our politicians, Mr. Bean was kind enough to confirm what many have thought about them and the real reason they want to be in politics. It appears Mr. Bean is no different and is putting a face to the public while attempting to enrich himself via Government contracts. Should be no surprise though as it was revealed in early 2013 that Mr. Bean received approximately $350k from the previous Government as a so called ‘consultant.’ That is a lot of money to start up a betting parlour and online gaming;)

  10. clearasmud says:

    Two OBA politicians have repeatedly refused to report their interest in Government contracts and you act surprised that Mr. Bean said its all about the contracts. Perhaps you as party secretary can get your colleagues to follow your advice!

  11. R says:

    Here is a role model for our politicians to follow.


  12. Coffee says:

    Stay in your lane Karen , leave the op-eds and speech writing to Don . He isn’t the best but saying that , he isn’t as shallow or naive as you’ve expressed yourself here . As for the message mehe … Concerning business contracts and the like , it doesn’t surprise me that Grant , Bob and the other UBP stalwarts haven’t brought you up to speed so that you could have slowed your roll on the subject . It appears as if they don’t mind you going out on a limb making a fool of yourself , after all that’s the type of company that you keep .

  13. Chris Famous says:

    Maybe Mrs. Magnum can enlighten us all about the multi million dollar contract her brother received in January 2013.

    Thank you

    • Mike Hind says:

      What does that have to do with her?
      Or are you saying that he got the contract because of her?

      If so, why not just come out and say it? Why veil it?

    • Edmund Spenser says:

      I’ve tried to find this in the awarded contract list and can’t. Can you be more specific or is this just one of your usual deflections?

  14. OBA OBA OBA says:

    Dear Mrs Magnum,

    So when the OBA implements the SAGE Report and privatises various Governments like the Airport, who will the new entities be given to? Surely not OBA supporters or established Bermuda families who already have large capital assets and large businesses already and can demonstrate the ability to run an efficient business and fire all the locals without even batting an eyelid

    Stop reading from the OBA hymn sheet you are brighter than that

  15. Judgment says:

    Bean has identified the elephant in the room. MONEY! The contracts that government hand out keep private business going. Legislation regulates how those contracts are implemented and seeks to keep the locals quiet and educated and healthy so that people can do business without much rancor.

    Those with the ability to get the contracts need a friendly government and not a hostile government that focuses on social issues. Thats the bottom line. Business needs a government that is pro business. Labor pretended to be seeking social justice but got confused when they tried to copy the sophisticated taking that the business government did. In simple terms. PLP got lost trying to make money off of contracts like UBP did for years.

    OBA is still supported by the same UBP base that seeks to make money without racial friction. Yet the new young black OBA players are small time boys who are no different from the PLP DNA…They want to get paid too. So Craig and Shawn went up on a trip trying to figure out how they can get a piece. This neophyte that wrote the article is drinking the cool-aid. She is naive. There are some who are legitimate in the government but absolute power can be absolutely corrupting.

    On both sides of the aisle there is selfish ambition and greed, pride and desperate pretentiousness. That is being human. We need to deal with that. Do you think John Swan became the only really wealthy black man because he worked harder…No he had access to contracts and business arangments that took place on private jets and in the USA.

    Dont besmirch Mark Bean for being honest. IT is what it is! It is about contracts and money. Somewhere in there is a thing called Justice and we the people must demand it and fight for it at all costs. That is what is needed now…an actively engaged populace that is not afraid to hold people like the arrogant Premier accountable. He is on a dangerous path of self-destruction and he has abandoned the noble preacher boy image that he rolled in on and has become self-absorbed and cannot take criticism or answer questions about contracts and money!

    Go figure….you are the secretary for his political party and don’t see all of this?

    • BETTTY TRUMP says:

      Well said @Judgement. I enjoy reading your insightful comment. You have hit the nail on the hammer. Thanks

  16. Dontworryboutathing says:

    UBP did it, PLP did it and now it is the OBA’s turn. It does not matter who is in power that is just the way politics work.

  17. what in the world says:

    Where do the OBA find these people? Why do OBA party officials tend to comment in politics when they are not the politicians? Clearly they don’t understand how a party is ran.

    Ms Magnum, Hollis and the other guy who clearly violates these practices, your role is to fund raise, recruit, train the youth wing, discipline when necessary, promote the party, and connect the politicians who represent the party with the rest of the membership of the party.

    That’s it. You have politicians who carry the message for you. If you want to be one who carries the message, quit your role and declare that you want to be on the front lines.

    It’s really that simple. Hopefully you and the others will stop making these errors in the future.

    Support your premier, cabinet and other mps behind the scenes as that is your job.

    • Mike Hind says:

      What a lovely way to say “Shut up”…

    • Better Times says:

      Free speech could be considered one of the most fundamental of all freedoms.

    • Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

      @What in the world…

      But if the OBA chooses to conduct its political business differently, why criticise?

      Although I found Ms Magnum’s comments refreshing to read, it also tells us that she is a very subtle, soft sell on politics, selling the OBA without hitting you over the head, not dragging anyone in and/or down, but still saying, look at us (OBA) we can do it differently.

      She’s clever, skilful and some-one to watch. Although its much too early to tell, but she could be a very powerful debater with emotional intelligence.

      Please note, my critique is on how the individual positioned her comments, not the party.

      London, England

  18. what in the world says:

    LOL @ Mike Hind

    I was thinking of saying shut up but I found that it wasn’t constructive. So I took it upon myself to explain to these well meaning persons how political parties work.

    • Mike Hind says:

      And yet, all you said was, basically, “Shut up”…

  19. Watching says:

    The Premier is in it for himself. It is known that the only position he wanted was Premier otherwise he was not interested. Nice Guy huh! Needs the money I guess!

  20. Valirie Marcia Akinstall says:

    Although I found your comments refreshingly good, I must add, are you naive or is it a tongue in cheek response by you?

    What Marc Bean said was said to enlighten, and he was being bluntly honest. Show us political families in Bermuda who have NOT financially benefitted from being in politics, UBP, PLP or now OBA (which was formerly UBP)? Now show us countries around the world where politics isn’t either the family business (like Ukaine, Iran, Pakistan, India, Syria, many countries in Africa and/or South America, etc) or total dictatorships that control the public purse from political power. And let’s be real, the British and European monarchies at one stage owned the public purse, that’s how royalty ran their countries.

    Fast forward to today, and democracy is still trying to weed out all forms of self-enrichment in politics, especially at the hierarchy level; it’s an open door invitation.

    The world has so few examples of individuals who were tested to the very core of their characters in integrity – intellectual and/or substance, compassion, self-discipline, etc. And so many have failed. But if we look to who have given us shining examples, Mandela, Ghandi, then you may include JFK (if you turn a blind eye to his private conduct) or Margaret Thather (as she turned a blind eye to apartheid and held it in place or her defence of Pinochet of Chile, a renown human rights abuser)).

    Yet back to Bermuda, our politicians are tested in the financial sphere, but not on the world’s stage. So, you may have been surprised by Mr Bean’s forthrightness, but surely not unaware of the sober reality? Not with politics in Bermuda? And that’s not to say that there are not politicians with integrity in Bermuda on both sides of the isle.

    If we, the people, do not want our politicians to become induced and/or seduced, we must continue to fight for transparency, accountability and responsibility in public office.

    However, when a politician stands up and tells us the truth of the matter, let’s not pretend that what was, what is and what it can be once more. is a shocking revelation. Let’s place his comments in our public arsenal of defence so that we can screen our politicians with cautious optimism that they will follow the right path in politics and not stray from being self-disciplined in public office.

    London, England

  21. bornb says:

    what you heard Ms. Magnum (in your context)may not have been what was actually portrayed by Mr. Bean. Your interpretation may have been way off from the message trying to be relayed. So use this medium (your words) to be positive. As OBA Secretary, they’ve taught you well.