Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Bmda: PM trying a different tack on independence

The PLP is not about to force Independence down people’s throats, Premier Alex Scott yesterday told The Royal Gazette.

Instead, the party is focused on opening a national dialogue to allow Bermudians to make a reasonable and informed decision on the Island’s sovereignty.
“We knew that most Bermudians were not in favour of independence, and of far greater concern, half our supporters were not in favour of independence,” he said.

“The party decided to play down the issue of independence but, more importantly, we would oppose any policy that would give voters an opportunity to express themselves on the issue. What we had hoped was that the Party could win power and introduce independence in spite of the electorate ...Since the people did not know what was good for them, they shouldn’t be asked for their input.”
However Mr. Scott said the party was taking a different tack in 2004.

People had little knowledge of what sovereignty entailed in the past, he said, and when the issue was brought to the fore in a referendum under former Premier Sir John Swan they responded “emotionally, not factually”.

Now, however, the goal is “educating the populace on just what our current status as a dependent territory entails, and what sovereignty entails.”

Mr. Scott said the goal of educating the public so they could make an informed decision was made first at the party’s Founder’s Day luncheon in February and at a symposium held this weekend at Elbow Beach which Government Ministers, backbenchers and the party’s executive attended.

“We are really just creating a national forum,” he said, so that if and when the question is formally put to Bermudians, the answer can be informed and educated.

That question is “not near the point” where it would be put to voters or Parliament, Mr. Scott added.

“The problem is the lack of information rather than a disposition against it ...Folks may find they are quite surprised at how unthreatening self-determination can be.”

“Self-determination”, he added, is “a more current view of what people used to refer to as independence”.
The breathtaking arrogance of Scott's remark that "[s]ince the people did not know what was good for them, they shouldn’t be asked for their input"!


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