Is the PLP becoming the Progressive Liberal Party?

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?

Let me know what you think: email


14 thoughts on “Is the PLP becoming the Progressive Liberal Party?

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    1. Yes, Chris it is. That is not my point tho. My point was that what Mr Bean said was more akin to a centrist party, not a left of centre party. My point was that in those two quotes, Mr Bean was moving the PLP towards the centre, abdicating the traditional left of centre politics, being more like the OBA….

  1. The PLP hasn’t been a center-left Labour Party for years. It morphed into a 3rd Way New Labour outfit in the 1990s; at best it still has some social-democratic tendencies, and an organic link with the unions, but it’s about as Labour as the UK Labour Party is today. Which isn’t much.

    Progressive Liberal Party is far more fitting – especially as the Progressive Liberal Party of the Bahamas is a long-standing cousin of the Bermudian PLP.

  2. Sorry, but I don’t see the ‘liberal,’ either—unless you mean liberal in the classic sense of “freedom from Government.”

    Marc Bean is an unapologetic free-market capitalist who espouses both conservative economic and social ideology. In fact, his views on both fronts more closes mirrors my own than likely any member of the current Government.

    What is interesting, however, is that those policy tenets which appeared enormously unpopular to traditional PLP supporters—reduced dependency on Government and personal responsibility, along with an abolishment of the welfare state—are now viewed as credible by these same people.

    Again, please point out the ‘liberal’ in the “new PLP’s” ideology, because I don’t see it. At least, not from their leader. And, in many ways, I’m okay with that.

    1. I was using the word liberal in a broad sense, to highlight the Mr Bean’s move towards the right politically. I suppose a better phrase would have been social conservative as you pointed out.

  3. Good day Mr. Deacon, the Late L F Wade moved the PLP towards the “center”, so there is nothing new under the sun. Having had a previous conversation with you, I’m not sure why you are expressing such surprise with my views of the future direction of the PLP. It is natural for political parties to shift along the spectrum, according to the leadership and needs of the day. Mr. Starling and Mr. Famous are correct in their statements, but what is interesting is that nobody, save for Mr. Starling, has publicly noted/questioned the leftist statements of the OBA, through their Chairman, Mr. Hollis. Social and economic equity for all is considered left of center, yet there is no analysis on this apparent shift/contradiction by the OBA? Also, I am not considered a political novice within the PLP. 10 years of service, based on merit, does not a novice make. At the same time, I do not claim to be a political expert either.
    Classical liberal is a correct assessment of my views, not the neo-liberal concept of the term.

  4. Let me add that I do appreciate the fact that you are raising the discussion. My statements are not meant to move the PLP towards the “center” for the sake of winning votes for the next election, but rather, from my considered position that this is the most effective approach to alleviate poverty, and ignorance, and raise the standard of living of those who need it most…..the lower income and middle income earner. May I also add that I feel that this is the effective path towards social harmony and cooperation.

    1. Thank you for replying, it is appreciated.
      Yes, I am just raising the discussion…
      While the late Mr Wade moved the PLP towards the centre, I had a feeling that latterly it had moved left again under previous PLP Premiers. Hence my interest in your speech.
      I am not surprised, it is the way of left of centre politics nowadays to move towards the centre. I was just thinking aloud about how the so-called PLP old guard would react…. when Blair finally completed moving the Labour Party to the centre ground, it was after much kicking and screaming….
      This is a good debate to have, it is important.
      Let’s keep it going.

  5. Thanks for the response. Some may find it ironic, but the message resonates more with our Elders then the youth, the reason being that the Elders have actually lived it. Also remember that it was a majority of “old guard” in the room the night that they elected me as leader. The approach is different, but the destiny remains the same.

  6. The PLP is neither liberal nor progressive, although Marc Bean himself may be a classic liberal. The PLP is really black nationalist. It favours protectionism, it is anti-immigrant and it is indeed anti-racist, at least where black people are concerned. With regard to economic policy, it does not seem to have a coherent policy at all, even if Marc Bean is trying to determine one and is taking up some classic free market positions (rightly) now.
    I don’t know that the desire for social and economic equity are left of centre – the idea of social mobility, which leads to social and economic equity, is a classic free market approach.
    Of course, left and right are becoming incredibly outmoded. You can be fiscally conservative and socially liberal or the reverse and many people are.

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