“You don’t want to make people glad twice … glad to see you come and glad to see you go.” Martha George
Seemingly lost in the furore and excitement of the PLP leadership contest between Premier David Burt and former Finance Minister Dickinson have been words spoken by the former back in March, indicating how his desire was to relinquish rather than consolidate power … perhaps he should have listened to himself.
It was during an Instagram interview back in March of the year with Maya Palacio of online news outlet Media Maya that Mr Burt spoke of his intention to step away from the role of party leader after serving one last term of office, pending electoral success at this month’s annual delegates conference.
When Ms Palacio asked Mr Burt of the PLP’s membership recruitment practices, appointment of delegates, the identification and selection of candidates to challenge for public office and his own succession, he shared: “We’re certainly blessed now having 30 seats, which is a blessing in some cases and a curse,”
“But at the same time I would say that you have to look toward the future and that’s what I think I’m committed to do as the leader of the Progressive Labour Party.
“We have an internal election that’s coming up this year in October and I’ve told the party that this is my last term I’ll serve as leader, pending success in October.
“And their, either you have to work to find other replacements and to make sure you have people who are willing to come behind you.”
D-day would appear to have arrived early and rather than having someone “come behind”, Mr Burt has the potential “replacement” he spoke of staring him squarely in the face, in the form of the popular financial wizard, one for whom he personally cleared passage for to stand in the ‘safe’ constituency of Pembroke South East, vacated by Rolfe Commissiong at the leader’s urging.
A successful investment banker among the prominent Wall Street crowd of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Corporation, Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation, and Wells Fargo Securities Dickinson became the obvious choice for the Finance Minister position the moment he was elected to Parliament.
Once in the position he impressed both sides of the aisle as a steady, conservative, honest sort intent on reigning in what appeared as reckless spending and undue risk taking and borrowing by the department during Burt’s tenure as the hand’s on caretaker, the ill-advised advancement of $800,000 to wannabe music mogul Anthony Blakey being but one such example of his heedless wastage, but a meaningless interruption when compared to the deal cut with investment firm Gencom, that left many a tongue wagging and Dickinson peering over the ledge for a place to land.
Placing Bermuda in position to pay off rising an inflated debt while stimulating a depressed economy had prior become Dickinson’s sternest test. A balancing performance he saw thrown beyond any semblance of equilibrium and recourse when Mr Burt insisted on granting Gencom full access to the palace grounds by way of a $50 million guarantee to renovate Southampton Princess hotel, together with 15 years of tax concessions, amounting to a more than $120 million give-away.
Flummoxed and frustrated Dickinson chose to resign and retreat to the backbench, rather than become a part of Burt’s increasingly megalomaniacal activity.
Thrust into the political wilderness, searching introspection of his role to serve, combined with incessant prodding from those anxious for someone anyone to contest and return them to the path of a more sane, ordered methodology Dickinson made his move, announcing his candidacy for the party’s top post and by association and circumstance the country’s leading to the current battle that exists.
Recent favourability polls have Dickinson leading by wide margins, but these are indicative of the wider electoral spectrum, rather than the select delegates, whom many have suggested would have benefited from Burt’s spending policies and not particularly wish to surrender the ‘gravy train’ so easily.
The actual vote of the delegates is scheduled to take place October 20 at St Paul’s AME Church Centennial Hall.
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