Today I’m going to resist the temptation to use satire (well, I’ll try) to consider the opportunity that lies before Bermuda’s new Premier.
We probably all have ideas or expectations based on previous media coverage or personal experience of the new guy, but lets put those aside for a moment and consider what we would like to see happen.
It doesn’t matter what three letter acronym party Dr. Brown comes from, it is his actions that count. It is these early days that will show us what type of leadership he brings. Here are some topics I’d love to see tackled from the start:
- Violence. It looks as though another person was lost to violence this week in Bermuda. There were more machete attacks making news. More victims and more families having to pick up the pieces. Rather than coast along saying that Bermuda is a completely safe place, decisive action is needed to make it so. Part of that action needs to be tackling the dreadful scourge of domestic violence.
- Finance and reporting. It has been hard to trust a government that has seemed to have so little transparency on expenditure and so little accountability. Increased openness and increased fiscal responsibility will win a lot of respect – even when it means sometimes you have to give us the bad news too. Help us to trust you.
- Housing. We all know there are plenty of easy excuses and people to blame. That doesn’t really get us anywhere though, as we’ve seen over the last few years. Put housing expenditure ahead of most capital projects and the cricket team (even if you like the game, it isn’t much fun to watch when you’re worrying about not having anywhere to sleep). Put someone very good in charge of housing. Work hand-in-hand with the opposition on it perhaps – the need goes way beyond party lines and that other lot might have some useful contributions too.
- Education. The problems that exist won’t be resolved by a shiny new school, even if the roof is fixed. In the UK there are a group of head teachers that are well-known for fixing poorly performing schools (I think the media call them ‘superheads’ or something). Recruit a couple of these people at whatever cost and give them every bit of support they need to deal with the politics and in-fighting. Have them involved in succession planning so they can groom the best of Bermudians to take over – the sharing of skills could make a remarkable difference.
- The New Hospital. Man, I don’t envy anyone inheriting that headache. There has to be a better way than using the Botanical Gardens. Even if it costs more, it is probably worth it not to lose all that sponsorship. Good luck.
- Race. Lead by example. Show that you value people regardless of who they do or don’t look or sound like. Be patient with questioners and give them the benefit of the doubt rather than judge them to be asking plantation questions. Your example of answering patiently will set the right tone and also defuse any who were motivated by less than positive intentions.
- Immigration. At the moment, it seems nobody is winning and poorly managed immigration policies serve to inflame feelings on all sides. You can’t please everyone on this but by putting in place clear policies and having them administered efficiently, it should help. Ensure that people using their position to express their dislike of foreigners have no place in your organization. Have a reasonable appeal process. Crackdown on bad employers exploiting foreign and Bermudian workers.
I recognize fixing these issues is easier said than done. However, tough and fair leadership can go a long way towards improving the situation of everyone in Bermuda. Tackling these key difficulties vigorously and effectively will win over the most doubtful of our community. Please Dr. Brown, exceed our expectations and make us proud. Even if it doesn’t make for good Bermuda Sucks copy.