Wayne Furbert: UBP ‘split’ was scripted by consultants

Former United Bermuda leader Wayne Furbert yesterday called for his ex-colleagues to release a consultant’s report which urged them to break into two groups and reunite under a new name.

It’s understood the UBP was advised such a move would make it more appealing to black voters after losing the 2007 general election.

And Mr Furbert, now a Progressive Labour Party MP, argues that advice has been followed to the letter over the past three and a half years.

He challenged One Bermuda Alliance leader John Barritt to make the report available so everyone can see “this is just a set-up to attract the black voter” and nothing to do with change.

Mr Barritt responded that the OBA is “not following the script of something consultants suggested some years ago” and the Opposition is now doing what Mr Furbert had been crying out for all along: changing.

In December 2007, the PLP won its third consecutive election, with many black people saying they were frustrated with the ruling party but could never vote for the UBP because of its legacy as white and elitist.

Mr Furbert says a consultant then advised younger members of the UBP should quit to form a new party before getting back together with their older colleagues under a new name. Some remnant of the UBP should be kept intact so the new entity could distance itself from the old one, the consultant suggested.

In September 2009, three of the youngest UBP MPs quit, citing frustration at the party’s failure to reform, and helped found the Bermuda Democratic Alliance.

Earlier this month, those three MPs rejoined their former UBP colleagues to create the OBA, with the BDA disbanding. The UBP is still continuing in the form of leader Kim Swan and Southampton MP Charlie Swan.

Mr Furbert, who quit the UBP in anger at its failure to reform in December 2008, told The Royal Gazette: “As a former member of the United Bermuda Party and as a person who was very much in the circle of the United Bermuda Party, I was aware of a report that was done by one of the consultants who suggested that the United Bermuda Party do exactly what has now been done.

“That is, the breaking away of the younger members of the party that eventually come back together and start a new party, with some remnant of the United Bermuda Party left.

“The remnant they had talked about leaving behind was people like John Barritt, Grant Gibbons, Trevor Moniz and Louise Jackson.

“They have carried out everything outside of leaving those individuals behind. I predict at the next election these individuals will most likely resign their seats to give the impression further change is taking place.”

Mr Furbert made numerous calls for the UBP to reform before he resigned, claiming it had been on a downhill slope for many years despite its ability to get almost total support from whites.

He said older members at that tune rallied around leader Kim Swan, urging him to ignore calls for reform.

Mr Furbert said yesterday: “They have not told the public why the change has been made. It was nothing to do with creating a strong Opposition, because we have still got the same players.

“The real reason for change was to try to attract the black voter. It’s always been the feeling that if the United Bermuda Party can get 25 percent of the black vote, they will win the election.

“From my canvassing, the majority of blacks I speak to say it’s the same United Bermuda Party.

“I’m challenging John Barritt, who is talking about a fresh start, who believes in openness and transparency, and good governance, to produce the report that was done. This is just a set-up, done by some consultants, to attract the black voter. This was done for political expediency.”

Sources in the OBA said the advice over the temporary split was merely a few paragraphs within a seven-page report and argued it hadn’t been taken seriously.

Mr Barritt said yesterday: “It’s ironic in one way that a former colleague who was crying out for change is now decrying and criticising an attempt to change.

“I’m genuinely sorry that he takes the position he does, but that’s politics for you.

“I can assure Mr Furbert and the people of Bermuda that we are not following the script of something that consultants suggested some years ago.

“What we are trying to do is to write a new script in politics in Bermuda, not just for ourselves but for Bermuda.

“We understand that we have our doubters and our detractors and critics, and what we are asking for is the opportunity to prove ourselves, and this is not something that can or will happen overnight. Change is not a single event, but something to be seen and measured over time. Stay tuned.”

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Published May 25, 2011 at 8:43 am (Updated May 25, 2011 at 8:42 am)

Wayne Furbert: UBP ‘split’ was scripted by consultants

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