Premier David Burt was returned as leader of the Progressive Labour Party (PLP), while Walter Roban also held onto the position of Deputy Leader following party elections involving delegates and Members of Parliament earlier tonight.
Mr Burt easily held off the challenge put forth by former Minister of Finance Curtis Dickinson, winning by a virtual two-to-one margin with Mr Roban extinguishing former National Security Minister Renee Ming’s challenge to his position by a similar two-thirds gap.
“The delegates of the Progressive Labour Party in meeting with the parliamentary group have spoken and now it is time for all the members of the Progressive Labour Party caucus to move forward and deliver for this country,” said Mr Burt, as he and the attendant members gathered outside St Paul’s Centennial Hall following the vote. “We have a lot of challenges that are ahead and know the campaign has been spirited.”
Exhibiting the very ‘spirit” mentioned by the Premier was Government backbencher Christopher Famous, who directed pent-up ire at TNN’s Trevor Lindsay, over apparent disagreement with the online publication’s recent coverage of the political campaign, saying: “Hey Trevor, all that bull—- didn’t work. Didn’t I tell you don’t do it.”
Following a campaign that has had him be accused of exhibiting authoritarian control of the party and his position, Mr Burt was keen to point out that his role was not one of dictation, but democratic, with his duty to that of those that have elected him to the leadership position.
What was made clear by the Premier – and later the Deputy Leader
-was that his mandate was to – first and foremost – perform to the desires and wishes of the PLP’s inner circle, secondly those that voted for the party, and thirdly the Island as a whole.
“What we need to recognise is there is not a single person who is standing here in your camp who wants the One Bermuda Alliance in this country,” added Mr Burt, who had appeared to trail in the court of public opinion in the build-up to the vote. “And what we will do is that we will work together to achieve the aims and aspirations of the delegates, who were inside that hall, the members who were inside that hall and the Progressive Labour Party supporters in this country who want a better Bermuda.”
Mr Roban, Minister of Home Affairs, echoed the sentiments of his running mate in that they must cater to the delegates as part of the mission to move Bermuda forward.
“We can now get back to business of creating the Bermuda that everybody in that hall, that elected us, to put in place,” said Mr Roban. “Happily, myself, the Leader and everybody who is here tonight are committed to building a Bermuda with Bermudians at heart.”
Appearing clearly disappointed, yet gracious in defeat was Mr Dickinson, who shook hands with his rival at the end of a battle that featured more than a few barbs thrown by both sides.
Mr Burt had questioned Mr Dickinson’s status among the PLP’s grassroots base, his professional accomplishments and leadership qualities, while the latter noted Mr Burt’s penchant for style over substance and told of how he was gambling the country’s future with a $125 million guarantee deal with Southampton Princess owners Gencom, terming the Premier a “liar”.
“The delegates have spoken,” said Mr Dickinson. “It’s time for us to get together and get back to work.
“And I’m committed to the PLP as I was before I tarted this journey. PLP all the way going forward.”
Ms Ming, who many gave little chance of unseating Mr Roban, surprised some with her tally of votes, yet the end result proved inescapable
“We are a party of one,” said Ms Ming, her dismay at having lost her bid also palpable. “So, as we move forward, we will continue to do the work that needs to be done for Bermudians as we move forward with our mandate in terms of putting Bermudians first.”
Asked by TNN’s Trevor Lindsay how he might go about healing the perceived split in the party which was brought to light during the course of the campaign.
“That was one of the questions that were asked I the debate and I’ve answered a few times,” began the Premier, appearing somewhat perturbed by the question. “We do not need to go down the road of any type of division.
“This is an internal election campaign. To explain to members of the media how this works.
“For about one hour there was no leader of the Progressive Labour Party. We’ve had an election. The election is now done, but everyone here is Progressive Labour Party. Everyone here wants this government to continue to live for the people of this country and we’re going to be meeting over the next few days and next weeks as we move together for a Throne Speech, so that our vision is one that resonates through this country, because we have some very challenging issues that we have to deal with. “
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