UBP council to discuss idea of merging with BDA
A possible merge between the two opposition parties will be discussed at a United Bermuda Party council meeting this week.
Chairwoman Jeanne Atherden said approximately 50 members of the party, including Members of Parliament and Senators, will meet to discuss strategic plans for 2011.
“I think everybody is mindful of the fact that Bermuda needs to have one Opposition party,” she said yesterday. “A divided Opposition is not as effective.”
Sen Atherden said that while many in the public may be focused on the possible merger, the UBP still had to focus on the Budget, which will be delivered on February 11.
“The Budget is coming up and we must not lose sight of that,” she said. “We have a responsibility to carry out our role for the Country.
“Everybody is saying let's hear what the Government is going to do, where the $150 million [in Budget cuts] will come. Bob Richards has been working on our Reply to the Budget.”
Two other UBP members, who did not want to be named, said the possible merger would be extensively discussed in this week's meeting.
The Royal Gazette understands the talks between the two parties have centred on trying to take advantage of both parties' strengths: the youth of the BDA and the experience of the UBP.
The hope is that by merging they can prevent the Progressive Labour Party achieving a landslide victory in the next election, which some believe could be as early as this summer. With little difference between the two parties' ideologies the discussions have focused on the nuts and bolts of a merger and how it would work.
Last week Mindmaps released a poll which stated 51 percent of voters said they thought the two parties should merge, with 37 percent saying no and 13 percent unsure.
The poll also asked who should lead a combined Opposition. UBP Senator Michael Dunkley topped the poll with 27 percent of people opting for him. Current UBP leader Kim Swan received 13 percent, and veteran Opposition MPs John Barritt and Grant Gibbons were close behind on ten percent.
When asked how strong-willed personalities within both parties have responded to the poll Sen Atherden said: “I don't like to get into egos and how people let their egos affect them. When you get involved in politics it is Country first, what is best for Bermuda.
“I think what Bermuda needs to hope for is that more people become involved in politics. We need more people who think they have something to offer so we can be as inclusive as possible.
“If more people don't get involved we won't be as inclusive as we could be and we wont hear different ideas.”
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