Needless political gamble

The One Bermuda Alliance government has just given a Politics 101 lesson on how not to manage a political issue.

First the Government, after months of delay, said it planned to hold a referendum on casino gambling, as it had promised in its election campaign. Instead of simply saying it would be a yes or no vote on legalising casino gambling, the question was: “Do you favour the introduction of regulated casino gaming for the purposes of creating new jobs for Bermudians and encouraging hotel development?”

To all but the people who framed it, this question was clearly loaded and the wording probably harmed its chances of passing. People resent being treated like idiots.

But rather than change the wording, the Government has now dropped plans for a referendum completely and will drive the legislation through parliament instead, thus breaching an election promise.

This is the PLP’s fault, said Premier Craig Cannonier, since the PLP is alleged to have threatened to oppose the question, this putting approval in doubt.

The PLP has vehemently denied this. Tourism Minister Shawn Crockwell said in the House that Opposition Leader Marc Bean had said that if the wording was not changed, the PLP’s supporters would not back it, which isn’t quite the same thing.

In any event, what no one has explained is why the OBA didn’t simply drop the stuff about job creation.

Instead they look arrogant and petulant, two things no politician can afford to be seen as.

The OBA needs to get back on track. It is unnecessarily wasting political capital on things like this and the closure of the Lamb Foggo clinic when it will need it for the hard decisions to come on jobs and the economy.

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