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November 17, 2017

General Commentary

Machiavellian Politics

Date: 15th January 2002

“Keep your friends close but your enemies closer” is perhaps the best statement to use when discussing politics, and sadly the United Bermuda Party has failed to take heed of this all-important lesson.

It is with great remorse that I find myself in a position to feel the need to comment on the travesties surrounding the removal of Trevor Moniz from the realm of the UBP. A party that is attempting to revitalize itself cannot afford to make such rash decisions. I have used the word rash with good purpose. If it is fact that the UBP voted on the removal of Mr. Moniz while two of its caucus members were off the Island, then there is a fundamental error in the UBP’s Constitution. If it is not the case then the ideals of the party are, simply put, flawed.

There is no doubt that Mr. Moniz could be considered a maverick by failing to toe the party line like all good backbenchers, shadow cabinet members and cabinet members alike should do, but in the case of Mr. Moniz many will say he was usually more right than wrong on the issues for which he stood, which makes this parliamentary convention all the more difficult to understand in the eyes of most voters.

Mr. Moniz is a champion of the Portuguese community, a section of the voting population that the UBP lost temporarily to the PLP (and partly to the scourge of apathy) but may now have lost permanently. Given that the Boundaries Commission will reduce the number of MP’s would it not have been more sensible to essentially bite the bullet, allow Mr. Moniz to join and at the next election (if the constituencies had changed and the relationship between the hierarchy and Mr. Moniz was still sour) de-select Mr. Moniz for reasons of boundary changes? Machiavellian this may be, but that is politics.

The simple fact of the matter is that the UBP as a whole and Mr. Moniz could not come to an agreement. A new leadership cannot afford to be undermined or divided when making new policy. Division will lead the UBP down the path of political wilderness from which there is often no return (look at the Conservatives in Canada’s federal parliament). On the other hand a lone voice of reason can often shed new light on old ideas. However another saying comes to mind “If you live by the sword you will die by the sword”. The choice of which saying to use is in the hands of the UBP and Mr. Moniz. For the sake of the Party and Bermuda’s future I hope it is not the latter.

Educational issues

12th June 2003
A recent editorial in the Royal Gazette spouted the New Labour government’s favourite mantra “Education, education, education.” Unfortunately this mantra has fallen on deaf ears in the United Kingdom and in Bermuda. As a Bermudian, albeit overseas, it would appear that the public education system in Bermuda is failing our most important asset, an asset that will be the guardian of Bermuda’s economic stability – our youth.

I recall some time ago it was announced by the PLP Government that the Department of Education would be introducing GCSE’s into the public curriculum, a curriculum that probably should have been introduced years ago to bring an internationally recognised educational standard to the Island to which young Bermudians could aspire. However, in the last few years the GCSE system in the United Kingdom has been under increased pressure to reform due to allegedly falling standards. Although the number of students attaining grades between A and C is at an all time high, it is suspected that the overall difficulty of the exams has fallen dramatically since GCSE’s were introduced to replace the much more difficult GCE’s. In fact there have recently been calls in the United Kingdom to scrap GCSE’s and introduce a system similar to that of the International Baccalaureate. The debate in the UK is of course relevant to the future course of the public education system in Bermuda.

Unfortunately there is no quick fix available to repair the crumbling public education system in Bermuda and introducing GCSE’s may be too little too late. Radical reform is needed – reform that does not merely introduce a discredited curriculum from abroad, but an over haul that will comprehensively deal with all the problems faced in our schools from truancy to poor educational standards. Successive UBP governments made an effort to reform the education system, and the current PLP Government has also made an admirable attempt, but to no avail (despite the PLP’s election promise that education would be a priority and that young people would be top of their agenda). We must ask ourselves why the number of Bermudian students, both black and white enrolled at private institutions is at an all time high. What is the problem?

The one constant that has remained, and perhaps the source of the problem, is the Department of Education. The school system was overhauled to create middle schools, haphazardly at best and incompetently at worst, but the Department that has the greatest hand in proposing and implementing changes to the school system has not – it is time to investigate the possibility of overhauling the over haulers – the Department of Education. Perhaps then radical proposals will be made and even implemented. Only then will the future and economic stability of Bermuda have a chance of being secure. Whether this opinion is accepted or not, I think it can be agreed that education should be the priority of whichever party is elected in July, rather than spending time and resources on the signing of a memorandum of understanding with a discredited regime.

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