29 November 2010

Frank Manning: Bermudian Politics in Transition

Manning book cover

I've scanned and uploaded a copy of Frank E. Manning's "Bermudian Politics in Transition:Race, Voting, and Public Opinion", from 1978. It is a study of Bermuda politics after the 1976 general election by Manning, a Canadian anthropologist who has written widely on Bermuda and the Caribbean. Download the PDF here

From inside the front cover:

Bermudian Politics in Transition explores the complex process that gave Bermuda's black Opposition a fifty per cent gain of parliamentary seats in 1976, split the ranks of Government, toppled the Premier, sparked a major race riot in 1977 and generated a mass momentum that endangers a white- controlled colonial order that has endured for more than three centuries. Based on survey research as well as intensive fieldwork, the book focuses on two areas: 1) trends in voting and party preference; 2) public opinion on the principal issues that have occupied Bermudian political attention since the inception of party politics in the 1960's.


Frank Manning has given us a book that has been long overdue in Bermuda: A detailed analysis of contemporary political thought and action.

Bermudian Politics in Transition will be compelling reading for anybody who is the least bit interested in Bermuda politics (and that seems to include everybody these days!), and who wants to learn more about what's what and why.

It will also be an indispensable tool for political strategists and pundits alike, unearthing some interesting, occasionally startling, but always enlightening insights into where Bermudians, the voters, stand on the issues of the day.

This book could literally prompt significant changes in party platforms before the next election.

It contains a veritable gold mine of information which goes a long way to explaining why the PLP picked up five more seats and increased its popular support in 1976, and conversely why the UBP lost those five seats and slipped in popular support.

Frank Manning's most fascinating find - and his surveys uncover plenty - has to be the pivotal role black women played in the PLP's stride forward.

His surveys also put paid to the popular notion that increased support only came from young blacks who were voting for the first time.

They also reveal long-suspected discontent among the white middle class with the direction in which the UBP appeared headed going into the '76 election: background to the movement within the party that toppled their leader, and Premier, Sir John Sharpe.

Bermudian Politics in Transition sets an exciting stage for the next election which could make or break the PLP .

As Frank Manning details, it was their shift to a more 'respectable' image in 1976 - toned-down socialistic rhetoric and emphasis on spiritual values and family life - which won them support from new places.

On the other hand, all is not lost for the UBP. Mr. Manning's book also clearly documents how they can shore up initial support and make inroads into growing support for the Opposition.

It may be, as Mr. Manning's surveys show, that voters believe their Government is only as good as its Opposition and they only wanted a more competitive Parliament.

And, after all, it is the voters of this country who will ultimately decide; and it's refreshing to see what they think for a change - which is what this book is all about.

Bermudian Politics in Transition is a welcome addition to any bookshelf of Bermuda history and the first in what I hope is a long line of its kind.

It also represents a great deal of hard work by an independent outsider whose objectivity makes this work that much more valuable.

John Barritt
Editor, Bermuda Sun