Swan drops injunction against former UBP members
United Bermuda Party leader Kim Swan has dropped his injunction against defecting members who founded the One Bermuda Alliance.
Mr Swan confirmed the move yesterday during an ill-tempered House of Assembly session as former Opposition colleagues rowed over the demise of the UBP and formation of the OBA.
His former deputy Trevor Moniz, now an OBA MP, argued defectors from the 47-year-old party had not broken their constitution by failing to discuss the matter with the full membership before agreeing to disband earlier this month.
It sparked a lengthy motion to adjourn dispute, with Mr Swan's confirmation that he's dropped the injunction paving the way for several OBA MPs to voice their opinions.
Until yesterday, members had been prevented from speaking on the matter because of the injunction Mr Swan had obtained to temporarily stop then UBP figures signing the merger papers.
Mr Moniz said the switch from UBP to OBA had been a long process leaving unhappy campers including Mr Swan and Charlie Swan, who both refused to quit the UBP.
“I've been given reason to believe court proceedings have been discontinued by Mr Swan and other applicants,” Mr Moniz said.
“The application has been withdrawn,” responded Mr Swan.
Mr Moniz continued: “It's not my belief that there was any requirement in the constitution or otherwise to go to the full membership. The process was appropriate and not non-constitutional.”
He added that Mr Swan had only raised his complaints after the process was completed.
Rising on a point of order, Mr Swan said that after the decision to disband had been made on May 3, the wider membership had raised concerns they had not been consulted.
He also said he was annoyed the defectors would not allow a disputes tribunal to consider whether the wider membership should have been involved in the process.
Mr Swan added in an e-mail to The Royal Gazette last night: “Following those overtures falling on deaf ears, we were left with no alternative but to seek legal advice, when other discrepancies were uncovered.”
OBA MPs Mark Pettingill and Shawn Crockwell, who together left the UBP to form Bermuda Democratic Alliance in 2009 before rejoining some of their former colleagues to launch the new party this month, also contributed to yesterday's debate.
Mr Pettingill criticised Mr Swan's remarks, prompting the St George's West MP to demand he withdraw his comments as he wasn't in the chamber to hear what was said.
“I said nothing that refers to him,” said Mr Swan. “He hasn't been involved in the United Bermuda Party since 2009. He's been given a script and he's being disingenuous in that regard.”
Mr Pettingill said one of the reasons he quit the UBP was because of a plan by Mr Swan to try to form a Government with political rivals in a bid to oust then Premier Ewart Brown in June 2009.
“I verily believe that members of the United Bermuda Party had no knowledge that that was his approach,” he said. “My mother always told me if you are going to put on a white suit and get into a pig pen and start throwing mud around, you better prepare to get dirty.”
Mr Pettingill also complained about comments made by former UBP Wayne Furbert, now a PLP backbencher, on the OBA's formation.
He accused Mr Furbert of being disingenuous and said it was false to suggest the new party was formed based on advice given to the UBP by a consultant in 2008.
He said there was a “lot of distortion” going on in the House and in the media and MPs should really be “getting our collective selves together, as we have done in the Opposition, and worry about putting the issues of this country first”.
Mr Furbert rose on a point of order to say: “The honourable member is being disingenuous himself. How can he say I'm being disingenuous? I wish he would explain what he means by disingenuous.”
Mr Crockwell said leaving the UBP was one of the most difficult decisions he had ever had to make in politics but he did it because he knew change was needed.
He said he'd never publicly criticised his former party, as Mr Furbert had done since quitting the UBP in 2008.
Mr Crockwell said it was “fundamentally wrong” for someone who was part of a team and involved in private discussions to later disclose confidential information and disparage former colleagues, simply because you no longer shared a political ideology.
Describing that as “gutter politics”, he added: “Just because it happens in other places, doesn't make it right.”
He said there was a consultant's report, which was shelved. “The fact that no action was taken on that report caused significant frustration for myself and the honourable member, Mr Furbert.”
Mr Swan interjected at that point that the UBP changed its constitution after the report, allowing Mr Swan to invite a leadership challenge from Bob Richards. “People have selective memories,” he added.
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