So Bob tells us what we already knew – it’s not all about a new airport, it is a throwback to a version of Keynesian economics.
Asked about jobs at the airport, Finance Minister Bob Richards said: “The overwhelming majority of those jobs will be Bermudian. That’s one of the reasons we are doing it.”
Basically, PPP is the ‘new’ Keynes. Invest in infrastructure to create jobs but use private money to fund projects.
Personally, I’ve no problem with that – as long as the plan is sustainable financially (something we still don’t know) so that it does not become a punitive indirect tax on the users.
Of course, the Keynes comparison is just about one project but it serves to provide a comparison to the very right of centre policies recently espoused by Marc Bean, the (current) leader of the PLP in an interview on Politica by Ayo Johnson.
Ayo has a business model and he needs to earn a crust, so I have no intention of quoting heavily from his interview, but I will take a few sound bites to illustrate my point.
Mr Bean talks of changing the mindset that says Government has to be large and supreme; he says from a fiscal perspective Government is too large. “We need a smaller Government. We need less Government,” he says.
He wants to reduce the burden of taxation and get a balanced budget. Mr Bean says more emphasis has to be placed on the private sector and that there is a way of promoting ‘peace and harmony’ without a policy of redistribution of wealth.
The context is to increase personal empowerment, but enough – I’m in danger of giving too much of Ayo’s interview away. There is much, much more to read.
After reading the interview, I bumped into a PLP MP and asked: “I’m confused. Are you a right wing or left wing party?” The MP showed me the palm of their hands, shrugged their shoulders and smiled before walking away.
It seemed indicative of the difficult position that the PLP must find itself in – under Mr Bean it will no longer be a ‘labour’ party, it will be very right of centre, believing in the use of free market economics and small government, in every sense.
I find it difficult to believe that the unions would have given the same response as the MP – and I cannot see the core PLP supporters, or indeed those suffering at the hands of austerity, thinking that this is the road they want their party to tread.
Mr Bean faces some very strong opposition from some key people within the party – I’m told they vehemently dislike him – and, of course, we’ve had no update on whether those that quit the Opposition front bench have been welcomed back into the fold.
He also faces a delegates conference in October. Will the ‘Bean way’ find acceptance amongst those that gave him authority in the first place?
If the OBA had half a political wit about them, they would be stirring it up to try and embarrass their opponents with just over a year to the next general election.
But they don’t and I fancy the ‘Bean way’ will be one-way.