Column: Classical Liberalism & Political Ideology

August 30, 2016

[Opinion column written by BPSU President Jason Hayward]

Recently Marc Bean, the Leader of the Progressive Labour Party did something that was rare in Bermuda; he spoke openly about his political ideology. Dialogue by our leaders on political ideology has been lacking in our society for some time now so it was interesting to hear Marc Bean present his views.

Through my own personal lens, party politics in Bermuda has primarily been centred on race with the majority of residents voting seemingly along racial lines rather than on a party’s political ideology.

As a result, we have people who vote PLP or OBA even though the party’s political ideology is fundamentally different from theirs. For example, there are whites in Bermuda who support socialist policies that vote OBA [or the then UBP] and, despite being capitalists, there are blacks who vote PLP.

A prime example is Marc Bean. Marc Bean has described himself as a classical liberal; a political ideology that is inconsistent with both that of traditional labour parties as well as the historical position of the PLP. One must ask themselves how can the Leader of Bermuda’s labour party have a classical liberal ideology – which is centre-right on the political spectrum – while his Party has been historically centre-left.

Jason Hayward Bermuda TC August 30 2016

PLP Leader is on record stating, “My political philosophy is one of small government, less government, small taxation, less dependency on the state and more freedom on the people, respect for property and respect for persons.” What is striking about this statement is that it reveals that the views of the PLP Leader are not that much different from those of the current OBA and the past UBP.

Trade unions, for the most part, support a social democratic philosophy which is centre-left. Social democracy is rooted on three core principles: freedom, justice and solidarity. From a social democracy perspective, the freedom principle is based on the belief that everyone should be free to decide how they live in regards to financial security, pursuing education and social opportunities.

The justice principle refers to the view that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law and that everyone in society is to be given equal opportunity. The principle of solidarity is that members of a society provide mutual support to each other. Most labour parties support a similar centre-left position.

In sharp contrast, classical liberals are fundamentally opposed to trade unions and collectivism as they believe that collectivism give persons in those groups unfair advantages in society.

Additionally, social democracy has three economic principles: growth, social balance and sustainability. Growth ensures enough wealth is generated to match the needs of the entire society, establishing the material foundation for a good quality of life. Social balance ensures that persons are appropriately compensated for their labour.

Sustainability ensures that societies in the future also have access to the resources they need.

Beyond the “doing for self” philosophy of classical liberalism, social democracy believes that Government, through its social contract with its citizenry, has an obligation to look out for the welfare of its people.

We believe that Government has a duty to ensure that healthcare is accessible and affordable to all, quality education is provided, financial assistance in granted and that residents have a pension upon retirement. These benefits are funded by persons and companies paying taxes; the higher the taxes, the greater the benefits.

Marc Bean also stated that “you know the fruit by its root”. Interestingly enough, however, the classical liberal fruit is not produced from a labour party root. The Progressive Labour Party was derived from a labour root which supports collectivism, social and economic policies to support the progression of all in Bermuda.

While I may disagree with the political philosophy of Marc Bean, I do believe that dialogue centred on the progression of Bermuda is a sign of a healthy democracy and that engaging in such conversations assist to move our society forward.

- Jason Hayward


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Comments (25)

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  1. smh says:

    Sounds like someone is gunning for to be the next leader of the PLP or at least throw his hat in the ring as a candidate

    • Smh says:

      I wouldn’t mind tbh

      • ReallyReallyBETTTY says:

        Great article Jason, well written.

        “Through my own personal lens, party politics in Bermuda has primarily been centred on race with the majority of residents voting seemingly along racial lines rather than on a party’s political ideology.”

        • Starting Point says:

          Except in the OBA where both blacks and whites vote for the party……

          • Fresh Prince says:

            I think you’ve missed the point here Starting Point.

            We can agree that Blacks vote for the OBA. In fact, it would be statistically impossible for the OBA to be in power without a portion of the Black vote. However, it should be recognized that Whites (historically and presently) do not vote for any party other than the OBA (and its predecessor the UBP).

            There are far less White PLP voters than there are Black OBA ones. One conclusion that can be drawn from this is that the only true swing voters (i.e. the only voter who vote on ideology and not just race) are Black Bermudians.

    • Django Unchained says:

      The only way for the OBA to win the next election is for the PLP to keep Mr. Bean as leader. Only blind loyalist would sacrifice a whole party to keep one man in charge. If that’s the mentality of this group I rather vote oba & ubp.

      Now go drink some herb tea and think about it before you knock at my door with promises of a better Bermuda.

  2. inna says:

    Pontificate much?

  3. Double S says:

    Cradle to the grave philosophy.

    Did you know that the father of trade unionism was vehemently against public sector unions as he claimed (and rightly so) they are an affront to democracy?

    Check it out for yourselves.

    • JR Smith says:

      unions were formed in response to the abolition of slavery & capitalism. the caucasian were losing jobs to better skilled and hard working former slaves, & capitalism was a new economic policy adapted at that time. It was forcing workers to work with no rights. In response the first trade unions were started in the late 1700′s in Manchester…

      • hmmm says:

        Slavery was abolished in 1833.

        • JR Smith says:

          slavery abolishment timeline was different depending on what country religion or even state you were in or from. Besides slavery is still in practice to this day. go do some research first before you start typing….

          • hmmm says:

            Slavery was abolished in 1833..that is a fact

            So Unions being formed in 1700′s in Manchester have nothing to do with Slavery.

            Perhaps you should do some genuine research into the subject and not spin it to suit an agenda.

      • Zevon says:

        Absolute nonsense.

  4. hmmm says:

    So he gets paid out of your pockets, and he gets to either spend time on your dime waxing on about ideologies and knocking the leadership of the PLP or using his position as a platform to promote self.

    Opportunism and abuse of position.

  5. confused says:

    this is a poor piece, I don’t think we should see a union leader speaking of the labour party leader like this in my humble opinion. Has Mr. Hayward even bothered to speak with Mr. Bean? I read an article yesterday that outlined his policy positions and they do not seem to be what Mr. Hayward has presented them as. Something isn’t making sense to me.

  6. hmmmmmm says:

    Unions described in this article snacks of Marxism. And it is amazing to hear the union leader talk about higher taxes while ensuring government workers don’t take a pay cut. Seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth.

    • Quinton Berkley Butterfield says:

      You obviously do not know what you are talking about. My govt paycheck is hundreds of dollars lower than it was 5 years ago.

      • Onion says:

        …and thousands of dollars higher than what is sustainable.

        • Spit Bouy says:

          @ Onion,

          Bingo!!!!!! Nailed it in one.

          But what they heck our gutless Government(s) will just increase taxes etc rather than deal with that chestnut.

  7. Build a Better Bermuda says:

    So what we have here is someone promoting ‘social democracy’, a system of government that requires government to be highly involved and intrusive in the lives and businesses of the people in order to make it work. Commenting on someone else who constantly criticizes the government for not doing enough for the people, while at the same time professes to believe in ‘classical liberalism’ and says that government should stay out of the lives and business of the people.

    So far, I haven’t seen anything that demonstrates the Mr. Hayward understands the role a union should play in democracy, such that I am far from being impressed by him simply spouting off political ideologies 101 in an attempt to sound like he understands how a government works. It is also interesting to here him promote the social democracy tenet of higher taxation, when he has been so vocal about anytime the government has raised taxation.

    As for Mr. Bean’s latest dissertation on politics, well, it has long been established pure ideology never works in policy or practice for any government. This is why the PLP failed so much to create a sustainable government for Bermuda and Bermudians, and why Mr. Bean’s ideology would fail as well. It can’t even survive his own practice as a politician in the House and media; much less the central ideology of his own party, which is fact less of a single ideology and more of a divisive alliance between the more extreme left and right ideologies as they pursue political power together, rather than apart.

  8. Kangoocar says:

    I would like to thank Jason Hayward for exposing the real deep rooted problems of the plp! He is saying that the plp and unions want to be given EVERYTHING from government which amounts to socialism, which has NEVER worked anywhere on the planet in the worlds entire history!! And Marc Bean wants less government interference, which actually is the RIGHT way to go!! I will say straight up right now, Marc Bean is correct, and the rest of the unions/plp thoughts are totally WRONG!!! This just proves the vast majority of plpers and union members have NO clue as to anything how a successful economy actually works!!!

  9. Mary says:

    there are smatterings of Fascist trends happening on both sides

  10. Truth is killin' me... says:

    So if I’m in a Socially Democratic Society and expect everything given to me (benefits etc.) and decide to not pull my weight and be lazy. What’s stopping me!?

  11. takbir Sharrieff says:

    Jason Hayward just opened a ,,,,can of worms,,,,and it will definitely rear its head at the polls Both Parties have mixed political positions.The Party that will win the most votes is the Party that appeals to the most voters.Either appeals to their pockets ,or appeals to their bank books,,,,,,money is the name of the game,when you get right down to it.Lots of people are struggling with both their pockets and their bankbooks.It is a shame that morals and correct principles take a back seat to money issues but that is the truth of the matter ,,,in Politics.The religious institutions take a sideline also when their pockets,,,,in ,this case ,,,,the coffers ,,,,,,and their paychecs are affected.Peace… much forPhilosophies,,,political ,and religious.Peace

  12. Rhonda says:

    one can be pro capitalism, with a social conscience, by degrees

    The UBP had a very small social conscience, say 90/10. I belive the OBA is a little better about 85/15

    While the PLP is more blanced..they want businesses to do well but not to the detriment of the people. .

    What I call the Wall-Mart effect.

    Where a Fortune 500 company has upwards off 90% of their staff requiring some form of social assistance…

    Someone always pays for the other half of the loaf…low wage earners, make up their wages with Financial Assistance.