Marc Bean new PLP leader
Defeats Terry Lister handily
By Ayo Johnson
Marc Bean has been selected as the new leader of the Progressive Labour Party.
Mr Bean, 38, won the leadership contest with 111 votes against Terry Lister who gained 35 votes in a special delegates conference called in the wake of Mondays general election.
He vowed immediately after the vote that the party will do its part to take race out of political discourse.
We have to evolve the narrative. Race right now is somewhat in a box. Its victim and oppressor — thats the perception. In the end, were all Bermudians, he said.
And so before we start to point fingers at those who we consider to be racists, we have to first look at ourselves and prepare ourselves to do for self.
He added: Its time to turn our swords into ploughshares.
Were going to be conscious of the fact that we still have racist attitudes in the country but those attitudes are best ignored and the focus should be on the higher and finer things that connect us as a people.
The 129 delegates and 17 parliamentarians spent four hours at a meeting at Devonshire Recreation Club tonight to decide who would replace Paula Cox as the partys leader.
There was some tension between the two groups when it emerged that the parliamentarians had met separately and agreed that Mr Lister would be the nominee.
Under the PLP Constitution only MPs can be party leader, but the delegates and MPs select the leader in joint session.
Seven MPs were nominated for the leadership but five declined.
Mr Bean told the delegates that he had attended the meeting with the parliamentarians but abstained when it came to a vote.
He also revealed to the delegates that he had been approached by the One Bermuda Alliance and invited to join the Cabinet but declined.
Theres a lot of work to do. We have to rebuild our party, rejuvenate our party, get the young people between the ages of 21 and 50 in particular to fully participate in their civic duty.
We need to change the consciousness of the Progressive Labour Party to become more competitive both economically and culturally and thats going to require serious cooperation among us as a people, Mr Bean told the media after the meeting.
Im conscious of the fact that we have to be prepared to be a strong opposition and also position ourselves to return to Government as soon as possible.
Mr Bean added: Our approach is going to be different in the sense that were going to take a higher ground.
The narrative on race that has permeated Bermuda for the last several decades, were going to take the lead and take that narrative to a higher level.
Theres no need for racists in this country theres no need for race baiting in this country. I think a man respects you when you respect yourself.
Its better to compete and cooperate than complain. So thats going to be our focus, going forward.
Were not going to be pointing fingers at people and playing the victim as if someone else is our oppressors.
As to his strategy in parliament, he said he would lead with wisdom and righteousness.
Like I said to the delegates, because we have 17 seats does not necessarily mean that we are going to block any and all pieces of legislation just for the sake of it.
That would be a disservice to the people of this country so we have to continuously ensure that we are preparing ourselves to be a government in waiting and we have to conduct ourselves in that manner.
On the relationship with the business community, Mr Bean said the party has to move away from the concept that it has to be anti business because its pro labour.
Not only will we encourage the future development of tourism and IB but I also would like to encourage economic development from within. So we will be pro-business, just because we are pro-labour.
He told The Royal Gazette that he never had ambition to be leader.
Paula Cox said she expected that Mr Bean would do his level best and you will see a party that is renewed and reinvigorated. The delegates spoke and we have to listen to the delegates.
Ms Cox added that Mr Beans message of inclusion and participation and team work had resonated with the delegates.
Kim Wilson said she turned down the nomination for leader because she wanted to focus on her constituents.
Lawyer Marc Daniels who had passed a flyer out urging the delegates to consider a young leader said he was pleased with the result.
We have to reach out to young people, and not just that but also have an evolutionary process which shows in a holistic way of looking at every single member and every single generation as being valued and important.
Walter Roban, who also declined the nomination, said he was pleased with the result.
He had decided not to run for the leadership for personal reasons.
He said the delegates were looking for a new, fresh leadership that would bring fresh ideas and new opportunities for the party.