Column: ‘Overwhelming Mandate To Govern’

August 11, 2017

[Opinion column written by John Barritt]

That was fun, Pat. For over a week afterwards, I was still getting positive feedback about Bernews’ election night coverage. The audience reach was nothing short of impressive, both here and abroad. Well done – and thank you.

People then asked what the result means. It means quite simply this: the Progressive Labour Party has won an overwhelming mandate to govern and to lead Bermuda in the direction they think will best meet our interests.

Their first touchstone on this journey will be their election platform and already we have been told that the goal is to keep their 100-day commitments. Good. That’s as it should be.

They also get to take advantage of the honeymoon any new government typically enjoys and to do what the One Bermuda Alliance should have done but failed to do following their election in December 2012.

By all means, please, ‘look under the hood’ and tell us, the people, what you find —- in each and every Ministry. There is great value in this. We all get to know their starting point.

Moreover, we get to hear from the former OBA Government whether they agree or disagree with what’s reported. Benchmarks are established for the purposes of measuring what’s done [or not] as the new Government goes forward. That is critical for the purposes of accountability.

This is where a network of parliamentary committees can prove their worth, populated as they should be, by members of the backbench, both Government [PLP] and Opposition [OBA].

Readers may recall the recommendation of the SAGE Commission, endorsed by the Commission of Inquiry, which became a promise in the PLP election platform: the establishment of three parliamentary committees to oversee the work of the various Government Ministries. The hope, the goal, is that this will help improve governance; identify and reduce waste; and ultimately bring about greater efficiency.

As it so happens, this will also provide a meaningful means through which backbench MPs – and there are two dozen of them available for the task in this new House on the Hill – can actually be seen, sleeves up, working together; with the additional opportunity to ‘cut their teeth’ as potential Ministers in waiting, whether Government or Opposition.

This network of parliamentary committees was but one of the PLP’s 100-day commitments. There are a couple of others worth highlighting as well:

  • Updating the Ministerial Code of Conduct – an overhaul that was another recommendation of both the SAGE Commission and the Commission of Inquiry;
  • Implementing a Code of Conduct for members of the Legislature – which should be pretty straightforward as this was also promised by the OBA; and,
  • Putting into place – finally – a code of practice for the Office of Project Management and Procurement, various and innumerable drafts of which have been floating around since the PLP left office in 2012.

The 100-day commitments don’t stop there either. There were also the promises to:

  • Re-establish the ‘Bermuda First’ initiative to develop a long-term economic and social vision for Bermuda;
  • Form a bi-partisan committee to examine immigration reform; and
  • Set up a Tax Reform Commission.

I single out these three because in each case the promise is one of inclusion, that the wider community will be involved, including people with different views and experiences.

This is a welcome point from which to start. It is also an important signal to send for a new government and the beginning of what could turn out to be a solid foundation on which to build going forward. Finally, as with any government, there is no second chance to make a good first impression which, incidentally, was one of the hard lessons the OBA has had to learn.

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Comments (16)

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  1. aceboy says:

    One point in the 100 day plan was to stimulate the economy. Then two points down they mentioned price controls. That tells me it was all electioneering. Those two points are counter productive.

  2. True Story says:

    Mr. John Barritt was among the elite in the UBP. The same party that had 40% black MPs and voters. The same party that lost these MPs and voters. Black Bermudians flip flopped from the UBP in droves like a sinking ship.
    The UBP Party decided to disband and merge with the Bermuda Democratic Party aka BDA party to create the OBA.

    WHY!!!……..Because black Bermudians were not voting for the UBP. Now the failed experiment call the OBA has failed. 24 – 12

    The Bermuda Democratic Party never should have merged with the UBP which I was a member of.

    • PBanks says:

      Yes, the BDA long term would have been better served not letting the UBP come in and take over. Now the combined party is left to flutter in the wind.

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

    “Mandate to govern” lol that’s what governments do innit…govern? Bland statement. Govern with integrity would have been a better statement Mr. Barritt.

    • PBanks says:

      I think the emphasis is on ‘overwhelming’, which you neglected to include. The 19-17 result of 2012 gave the OBA a mandate to govern, but it was tenuous – any party defections, etc. would put it at risk.

      At 24-12, the mandate is clear and undisputable. The OBA cannot put up any roadblocks whatsoever.

      • Albie says:

        PBanks, Yes that’s true. Any successes or failures will be owned by the PLP.

        I pray for positive results.

  4. puzzled says:

    Same s***ake different day.
    Same dirt and then mold.
    Enjoy 2017.

  5. Athena says:

    Mr. Barritt has long been a proponent of parliamentary committees. That is all well and good, provided those chosen are persons of integrity and ethics; not individuals who have been highlighted by the COI.

    Also, as stated there is a honeymoon period for a new administration. However, this administration has already made some ministerial appointments which are questionable given their previous time in government. Will they do better with committees?

    • Sickofantz says:

      Commitees on this committees on that. Actions speak louder than commitees.

  6. Toodle-oo says:

    “People then asked what the result means. It means quite simply this: the Progressive Labour Party has won an overwhelming mandate to govern and to lead Bermuda in the direction they think will best meet our interests.”

    Actually they will lead Bermuda in the direction that best meets THEIR interests . From here on it’s going to be an all out war to continually be re-elected , at any cost . Even if it’s not in the best interests of all of Bermuda .

    Being PC is all well and nice but it’s rarely the truth .

  7. Breathe says:

    After surrendering his journalistic stance to participate in the fiasco that was the Commission of Inquiry, Mr. Barritt, with respect, has little to no credibility.He must answer for his own complicity in the clear plan to win in 2012 when he “fell on his sword” for Craig Cannonier’s ascension. That act and his role in the COI contradict the inclusive, bi-partisan approach he advocates for here.The COI was a political exercise which ultimately was unmasked for what it really was and ran counter to the intentions of the OBA in setting it in motion. Until Mr. Barritt and others admit their complicity in the brand of politics and political actions that have fueled the divide in this country, nothing they say can be taken at face value.

    • Double S says:

      Why was the CoI a fiasco?

      Just because you didn’t like the irrefutable facts that came out of the CoI and AG’s report which preceded the inquiry doesn’t make it a fiasco.

      Allowing the alleged culprits to get away with the massive abuse of our monies is and will be the true fiasco. But why do I get the distinct feeling you don’t care about alleged abuses of taxpayer funds by your team?

      • Breathe says:

        I tell you what, let’s see where you stand when the “irrefutable facts” come out about 2013-2017. Then we can see if you like bias in your coffee every morning or just where “my team” is concerned. Let’s start with the “irrefutable” cost of the America’s Cup when it’s revealed……

        • Double S says:

          For five consecutive years, up until 2012, the AG issued qualified opinions on the consolidated fund.

          The very first year the OBA was in power they returned and stayed as unqualified. So my guess is that not much will be found despite your assertions.

          The fact that you’re ready to defend a contract such as Port Royal shows how much you put your team above your country. But I already knew that:)