Former Premier defends his record
Former Premier Dr Ewart Brown last night came out punching at the annual BIU Labour Day banquet.
The star speaker used the occasion to defend his reputation and record as leader of the country — and to take a swipe at the ruling OBA.
And Dr Brown signalled his opposition to any moves to privatise public services.
He also told guests that union members would have to be “vigilant” at a time when words like “privatisation and mutualisation” were becoming part of the vocabulary.
He said: “Unions must be vigilant and prepare for the next range of challenges facing the labour movement.”
And he warned: “The BIU today remains a target for those who would seek to undermine the strength of the organisation.”
Dr Brown — who praised BIU leader Chris Furbert’s “hard work” and “tenacity” — said that “leading the union through prosperous times was tough enough.”
But he added: “Leading it in hard times is as hard as it gets.”
Premier Michael Dunkley and his Cabinet were in the audience as he said the OBA was the former UBP by another name. Dr Brown said: “Wake up and see our country is being taken away from working people — we don’t matter to these people.”
He added that a controversial court ruling over Permanent Resident Certificate holders being granted the right to vote could mean 1500 people added to the electoral roll — which would alter voting patterns in favour of the OBA. And he said that “there is a good chance the PLP would not get back into power — at least not in our lifetime.”
And Dr Brown — who won a standing ovation — said: “We must return the Government to the PLP. I’m calling for an organised effort to take back the Government, right now, right here.
“We can’t afford to wait three more years for an election — there will nothing left for our people by then.”
And he called for former PLP MP Terry Lister and Speaker Randy Horton to “come home” to help oust the OBA from Government.
Dr Brown also took a swing at allegations of corruption levelled at him during his term of office — and questioned whether a UBP or OBA Government would ever be treated the same way or if media coverage would take the same line. Dr Brown said he was “not a thief” and added “I don’t believe in stealing period and I did not steal from Government.”
But he added “I believe in giving” and pointed to his charity work in areas like university scholarships and football teams.”
And Dr Brown said his wife Wanda had paid “100 per cent” of her airline tickets when she travelled with him on official Government business and even hotel room service charges had been split and paid for with their own money. Dr Brown added: “We did it because we knew they would be coming after us for every little thing, whether it was a justifiable expense or not.”
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