The unmarked intersection between politics and international sports can be dangerous territory for politicians. It has seen some spectacular crashes in the past. There are few, if any, signposts. No blinking light to warn: “dangerous crossing ahead”.
Readers may recall the Olympic boycotts of 1980 and 1984, when the World’s greatest sporting event collided with Cold War politics. Consider a more current situation, with the Olympics unfolding in Japan amidst a new spike in the Covid pandemic. How will that impact turn out?
Closer to home, we have seen the Premier maneuvering with SailGP.
Here is the man who vilified the OBA when the 2017 America’s Cup graced Bermudian shores. For the sake of political gain, then Opposition Leader David Burt attacked AC35, even though the international sporting event showcased Bermuda’s beauty to the World, with PwC calculating an economic impact for Bermudians of $366 million.
Rumour has it SailGP approached Bermuda back in 2017, but the newly elected PLP Government declined. Whether that rumour is true or not, today – with Bermuda’s economy sinking fast – Premier Burt had little choice but to navigate SailGP.
Political U-turns are tricky at the best of times. Yet the Premier’s grip on the wheel has been faltering lately. Perhaps he is sensitive that his hypocrisy is there for all to see?
In the end, SailGP proved a success for Bermuda, despite Covid difficulties. And if the Premier’s reputation was badly battered by the encounter, who is really to blame for that?
How angry are you about Covid? Strong and stoic? Slightly vexed? Or are you full-on, red mist angry?
Last week saw a keyboard duel between Vic Ball of the OBA and Owen Darrell of the PLP. Senator Darrell was angry because former Senator Ball questioned why more Bermudians were not angry about Covid, suggesting we should be. You with me so far?
Seasoned political observers know that what Senator Darrell was actually doing was trying to shield the Government. Why? Because despite a strong start with Covid in 2020, the PLP has recently mishandled the pandemic. And that has made some folks angry with their Government. Yet the Ball/Darrell debate raises a legitimate question. How angry are Bermudians?
My take on it is this: anger or no, people are increasingly frustrated. Frustrated by the continuing pandemic, certainly. Yet also frustrated by the bizarre inconsistencies in the Government’s regulatory response.
Inconsistent treatment of people undermines our faith in the Government’s response. Inconsistent treatment causes us to believe that people are being treated unfairly, which sows dissent in our society. Add to that businesses shuttered for months or permanently closed, lives and livelihoods lost, and increasing mental stress for all from wave after wave of lockdowns.
So yes Senator Darrell, some Bermudians are angry. And much of that anger will be directed at the Government. Why is that a surprise?
THE PENDULUM SWINGS
On a lighter note, let’s tack back to SailGP.
Congratulations to Sir Ben Ainslie, helmsman of the British boat, whose team narrowly defeated the Australians. This must have been a sweet victory indeed after the British team’s unsuccessful AC35 outing in 2017.
Nice, also, to see the red hulls win over the green ones.
Scott Pearman, is the MP for Paget East (Constituency 22) and the OBA Shadow Minister for Legal Affairs and Transport. [email protected]