Farewell from Phil

Posted: January 7, 2008 in Bermuda, bermuda politics, media

I do hope Phil (The Limey) Wells will reconsider his decision to quit blogging which he posted today.I understand his frustration and despair at the current political climate but now is not the time for commentators like him to quit. When free speech and criticism are being stifled and the Opposition in disarray, those with something to say and the ability to articulate it well, as he has done – many times courageously – in recent years, need every encouragement to keep saying it. If a ship is heading for the rocks, you don’t stop sounding the alarm just because no one’s listening or paying attention. For sure, these are likely to be challenging months ahead for the Island’s media but faced with the evidence that Bermuda has an electorate that can’t see anything beyond the colour of its own nose, both the mainstream and alternative media need to be more vigilant than ever on its behalf. While I too agree with Tom Vesey that the most effective criticism for now can only come from within the PLP, I disagree with Phil, when he says:

“I’ve come to believe that by continuing to criticise the government, I will only make things worse. The election demonstrated that criticism does not hurt the PLP. On the contrary, it makes it stronger. Any external criticism validates widespread feelings of victimhood within the party and helps unite its various factions.”

That may be the case right now and I understand why some commentators feel they are banging their heads against a brick wall. In the same way, surely criticism needs to strengthen any opposition, not muffle it.I too am a Limey in Bermuda. I’ve been here 25 years, have one born-Bermudian child and two other children born here who think they are Bermudian. For all its faults, I love Bermuda and its people and this is home for me and my family and whatever some sections of the PLP think, I do have an opinion and as a taxpayer I have a right to express it – even if my PRC status doesn’t allow me to vote.  I’m not pro one party or the other – perhaps naively, I just want to see a Government that fairly represents ALL of Bermuda with integrity and honesty.Without any opposition, democracy in Bermuda is on a very slippery slope. Freedom of speech is something we take for granted and right now, all of us – black, white, Bermudian and expat – need to defend the right to speak without recrimination.There’s a lot of healing to be done in Bermuda in the wake of the election and we all need to be part of that process, not walk away from it. That’s why we need to continue to hear as many different voices as possible – including yours, Phil.  

  1. Phil Wells says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Chris.

    “faced with the evidence that Bermuda has an electorate that can’t see anything beyond the colour of its own nose, both the mainstream and alternative media need to be more vigilant than ever on its behalf”

    I see little value in attempting to provide a service for someone who has demonstrated that they no longer want it.

    “Without any opposition, democracy in Bermuda is on a very slippery slope.”

    I’m not suggesting that there should be no opposition to the PLP. But I think the media (particularly the Mid Ocean News), needs to take the criticism down a notch – not because what they’re saying is wrong, but just because it’s counterproductive.

    Similarly, I think the political system needs to change. I don’t think Bermuda is politically mature enough for a two party democracy. I think it needs to return to the days of independents. The question then becomes what is the fastest way to move to such a system? Obviously it requires both parties to disband. With a fresh election mandate, there is no way the PLP will do so voluntarily. The UBP does now have the opportunity to do so, however. Moreover, I believe that by denying the PLP its traditional enemy, the UBP’s dissolution would make the fragmentation of the PLP much more likely too.

    The UBP’s MPs wouldn’t stop criticising the Government, they’d just be doing so as independents. Initially, it would still be easy to portray them as the UBP in all but name, for sure. But over time, as new independents stepped forward from the public and from the PLP, this would get harder and harder.

    I don’t see myself as walking away from the process, per se. I’m just doing what I think is necessary to speed the arrival of a Bermuda that values accountability and debate, and welcomes the contributions of all of its residents.

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