‘No-confidence vote not in best interests’

  • Charles Jeffers, former leader of the National Liberal Party

    Charles Jeffers, former leader of the National Liberal Party

A vote of no confidence in Michael Dunkley might be good for the Progressive Labour Party — but Charles Jeffers argues it would not be in Bermuda’s best interests.

Mr Jeffers, the political commentator and former leader of the National Liberal Party, called for “cool heads to prevail” as the island enters the new territory of a minority government.

Stability is required, he said, with Bermuda preparing to host the America’s Cup and grappling with ongoing difficult economic conditions.

Mark Pettingill’s resignation last week leaves the One Bermuda Alliance with only 17 of the 36 seats in the House of Assembly, meaning it faces a potential struggle to win any contentious vote.

The PLP could fatally wound the Premier by winning a no-confidence vote against him if it could gather backing from Mr Pettingill and fellow Independent Shawn Crockwell — although both have indicated their likely support for the ruling party on legislative matters.

“What would that do for Bermuda, when we are trying to prepare for an America’s Cup and deal with our economic concerns?” Mr Jeffers told The Royal Gazette.

“Do those who are so concerned with party really care about Bermuda?

“Is the need for greed the priority that has people aligning themselves with party above everything?

“These are people who are not looking at Bermuda. They are looking at the party, they are looking at the power. They are thinking, ‘Let’s get it back to the PLP.’

“There’s always a potential for political and social unrest but my hope for Bermuda is that cool heads prevail, that people will think about what’s best for the country.”

Both parties have been guilty of playing politics as a General Election creeps closer, according to Mr Jeffers.

He said finance minister Bob Richards produced a “sweetheart Budget” last month, and he suspects the OBA was trying to show voters it is “listening to the PLP” last week by agreeing to revisit immigration policies affecting musicians.

Mr Jeffers said that while he agrees with the changing of the policy, it should have been done much earlier, instead of waiting until the months leading up to the election.

Meanwhile, the PLP has opposed the airport redevelopment deal so vigorously that some supporters have thrown their emotions behind the party stance without checking the available facts.

Such political game-playing is a natural consequence of the Westminster system, in which two parties naturally oppose each other, Mr Jeffers said.

As high-profile Independents, he said Mr Pettingill and Mr Crockwell had a rare chance to break the trend.

“The two most powerful men in politics now are Shawn Crockwell and Mark Pettingill,” he said. “They can decide what gets passed and what doesn’t. They can uphold Government.

“The way to break this system is to get at least three or four Independents in who will say, ‘I will listen to my constituents and do what they need me to do.’

“This is what those two guys have the ability to do. They can make or break politics in Bermuda. We have never had this kind of situation where the Independents can control.”

This article was amended to make clear that, while Mr Jeffers supports the decision to amend immigration policy on musicians, he criticises the OBA for waiting until a few months before the General Election to do so

• On occasion The Royal Gazette may decide to not allow comments on a story that we deem might inflame sensitivities. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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