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January 17, 2019

Independence Issues

Why is there debate?

Date: 04 January 2001

Having recently been home for the Christmas period I was dismayed at the apparent revitilisation of the Independence debate. Although there have been no calls from Government Members of Parliament (that I am aware of) to discuss this issue, there have been calls from some Government party activists and Opposition Members of Parliament for either action or clarification of this issue.

Although Bermudians are well aware of the Progressive Labour Party’s feelings on Independence it is my feeling that the wish for Independence is as misplaced now as it was several years ago when the United Bermuda Party was foolish enough to pursue this goal without a clear mandate from the electorate. This mistake ultimately contributed to the UBP’s fall from government.

I urge the Progressive Labour Party to make a clear statement on the issue of Independence to clear the air not only for business, but also for young Bermudians still hoping for British citizenship. Although the British Government has stalled on the issue of citizenship for members of its Overseas Territories, it is important that any decision on Independence comes after Bermudians have been granted the opportunity to choose to live, work and gain experience in the big bad world. As many Bermudians know, both Bermuda-based international companies and local companies alike value overseas experience, despite the excellent in-house training available to Bermudians.

The Progressive Labour Party touted itself three years ago as the “Party of Youth” and was elected by an unprecedented turnout of young people. These same young people expect the Government to serve their best interests – which in fact is ruling out Independence and waiting for citizenship to be granted so that worldly experience can be gained. Just ask our Bermudian footballing heroes, other athletes and many others across the Bermudian Community who have been held back because they only had the right to live and work on “the Rock”.

Bermuda is undoubtedly the best place in the world to live and work, bring up children and generally enjoy life, but this can only sincerely be appreciated through the experience gained by living and working abroad. By denying young people the right to choose whether to take the offer of British citizenship - by nullifying their choice through Independence - would be wrong and false. Although many in the older generations may not have the need or the urge to be a British citizen, they must think of their children and their children’s children and the future of Bermuda in sustaining a vibrant and competitive nation.

Misplaced immigration

Date: 29 July 2001

Recently there was a letter in your paper written by a worker from the United Kingdom who was complaining that Bermudians are to receive British citizenship. The individual concerned indicated that he felt it was unjust that Bermudians should be able to enjoy the comforts of Britain while Britons are barred from enjoying the superlative opulence of Bermuda.

The writer clearly is not understanding of the facts surrounding this simple issue. It is certain that if Britons were permitted to enjoy unrestricted access to Bermuda the Island would be swamped with sun seekers and the promise of a better life. Unemployment would rise, no doubt at the expense of Bermudians, and the Island would become more overcrowded, making a severe problem worse. Rents would multiply ten fold as the search for reasonable housing increased, gradually creating an extensive period of discontent.

The author of the particular letter in question feared that Bermudians would arrive en masse in the United Kingdom, stealing the jobs of Britons. I can assure the writer this will not happen. The individual concerned indicated that he came to Bermuda to escape the mass unemployment of his homeland. I would like to know what profession this man is in and what area of the country he is from. Having spent the last year in the United Kingdom I know there are many jobs available for those who wish to work, particularly in the service industry. The author must realise that the opportunity for young Bermudians to gain experience in their particular field is huge. Professional positions will not be threatened neither will blue collar positions. The effect of Bermudians training in Britain will have a negligible impact on job security for “home grown Britons.”

I suggest that the writer read recent headlines from his homeland that suggest 30,000 asylum seekers will be granted residence status in the United Kingdom due to a two year backlog on applications. Those are the people that will remain in the United Kingdom, not Bermudians and be a “threat” to jobs. However, the United Kingdom has one of the lowest unemployment levels in all of Europe (around 4%) thus the asylum seekers will be readily absorbed into the economy. If the writer wishes to criticise, he should examine the poor state of Britain’s rail system, health care and educational establishments and thank his lucky stars that he is in Bermuda in the first place.

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