This has been updated with a statement from PLP leader Marc Bean at the end.
Well, we are in pantomime season……especially, it seems, in politics.
And there’s been a lot of ‘oh yes he did’ ‘oh no he didn’t’ between the OBA Government and the PLP Opposition over the Gaming Referendum.
I’ll try to summarise very quickly:
1. Government tabled a bill to introduce a referendum on gaming, with this wording. It was one of the OBA’s election promises
2. One week later, just before it was due to be debated in the House of Assembly, the Government pulled it.
3. At a press conference, Premier Craig Cannonier, said: “This week, after conversations with members of the Opposition, it was made clear, very clear to us, that the referendum process will be undermined if we don’t meet (the Opposition’s) demands to change the wording of the question.
“Earlier this year the Opposition Leader said he and his colleagues would support gaming if the Government brought the matter to the House without referendum. His party’s support of gaming at the time, and other statements, simply doesn’t square with the threat this week to undermine the exercise.
“It is clear to us that the Opposition’s political ambitions have moved ahead of the people’s business, and that the threat to disrupt the referendum or have a boycott is real.”
4. In a series of Tweets with me on the day the Bill was pulled, the Shadow Finance Minister David Burt said:
1. Jeremy 100% false. I met with PCC on Tuesday. We’ve spoken, we never said that. We’ve been pushing this referendum!
2. We have already called him out and I’ll do it again. This is a falsehood pure and simple. An excuse for their reversal!
3. The burden of proof is on the one who makes the charge, not the accused. But why would we boycott something we have promoted?
So, in a nutshell there it is. But who the hell do you believe? I for one, don’t know and I doubt we will ever find out definitively who is telling the truth. (If someone reading this blog has proof, please email email@example.com)
This does not reflect well on either party. I don’t think anyone comes out of this with any credit.
On something as contentious as gaming, there should be widespread public consultation – it is a major shift for what is a very conservative country and there are very legitimate fears about the social effects of gambling.
I’m not convinced that it will create a lot of jobs (although it will create a new tax stream for Government which it needs in order to pay off the debt and support a bloated civil service).
If the PLP really threatened to undermine the referendum shame on them, if the OBA pulled it for no good reason, shame on them. To say the results of polls show support is not enough.
It is pantomime politics and we expect more from our elected leaders. Oh yes we do!
ADD: I have been emailed this from Mr Burt:
I start at 9:45
Will put the issue into perspective.
You may not chose to pick a side, however The premier approached us in September to ask us to abandon a referendum. We said no.
He approached me on Tueday – and I said NO.
He approached my boss on Wednesday and he said NO.
And last night we heard this “boycott” was a random caller on the Sherri J show! That’s where the PLP Plot came from. Nonsense.
Have a listen.
PLP leader Marc Bean issued this statement: http://bernews.com/2013/12/plps-bean-time-line-of-gambling-discussion/