In Marc Bean’s speech at the recent PLP annual banquet, two paragraphs stood out for me.
They were: “As a party, we must be prepared to reduce the burden of government, and reduce our people’s dependency on government.
“Like it or not, we also must pursue policies that reduce our public debt, reduce government spending, and put Bermuda on a trajectory towards having a balanced budget in the future.”
As I commented on the story on The Royal Gazette’s website, close your eyes and have someone read those two paragraphs to you aloud. I think you will find that you associate the ideals with the Republicans, the Conservative and even the One Bermuda Alliance – and not the PLP, a labour party.
It is under 14 years of PLP Government that the civil service grew and grew placing a huge burden on taxpayers and adding layer upon layer of bureaucracy and inefficiency. It grew our dependency on Government.
The PLP increased debt to pay for large public works and to sustain the level of Government we now see.
To pursue policies that balance the budget will inevitably involve reduced Government spending – but to maintain an acceptable level of public service (think votes) that will inevitably mean Government cutbacks and the biggest cost is staff.
While there was other stuff in his speech, it is this apparent shift that really caught my eye as it appears Mr Bean is moving the PLP towards the centre ground politically. The party will no longer believe in big government, as so many left of centre parties do, it will follow moderate fiscal policies as so many left of centre parties traditionally do not.
It is more liberal than labour. Will the PLP be rebranded as the Progressive Liberal Party?
It is an extremely interesting departure for Mr Bean, but will the party stalwarts and its traditional base – the unions which still hold an enormous amount of influence within the PLP – accept this? Have they realized it yet? Will the traditional PLP voters feel betrayed?
A political party that lost a general election after 14 years in power does need to reflect and see if it needs to change its spots. But I really would be interested to know if this has been discussed within the Shadow Cabinet, within the walls of PLP think-tanks, with the unions.
Mr Bean is a relative political novice. Certainly he is a novice party leader having been in the post less than a year.
Does he have the political support and experience to drive the PLP in what I see is a whole new direction?
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