Atherden regrets rift with Kempe
Former Opposition leader Jeanne Atherden has said she regretted a rift with Nick Kempe, who quit as One Bermuda Alliance chairman after he was axed from a seat in the Senate.
Ms Atherden, who resigned as party leader last week after eight of her ten MPs registered a vote of no confidence in her leadership of the Opposition, said she removed Mr Kempe from the Upper House last November to lighten his workload.
She said: “I have always maintained that the party is very important and the chairman of the party is very important.
“The party is what gets us out there and represented to the public and helps MPs maintain contact with the electorate.
“I also indicated that I was concerned that being a senator and party chairman created a conflict because you can’t carry on and do everything a chairman has to do when you are a senator with that workload.
“I indicated to Nick very clearly that I thought he had a job to do and that we could work together.”
She added: “It’s unfortunate I wasn’t able to get him to appreciate that and he chose to resign as chairman of the party.”
Ms Atherden said she was unaware whether Kr Kempe had been “intimidated by me being a woman leader — but as far as I’m concerned he and I could have worked together”.
She said: “I was not the first leader who replaced a senator. Others have been replaced and moved on to work for the party.”
Ms Atherden, a past chairwoman of the former United Bermuda Party, was speaking after Mr Kempe wrote an op-ed in The Royal Gazette yesterday and warned that the OBA had to sever its links to the UBP old guard or die.
The OBA was formed in a 2011 merger between the UBP and the Bermuda Democratic Alliance.
Mr Kempe wrote that he saw “real hope” after the bulk of OBA MPs acted to remove Ms Atherden as Opposition leader.
Craig Cannonier, a former OBA premier who quit in 2014 in the wake of the Jetgate scandal, was sworn in as the new Opposition leader yesterday, but will still have to win an election to become leader of the party.
Ms Atherden was among the OBA figures absent from Mr Cannonier’s swearing in at Government House.
Former OBA premier Michael Dunkley, who replaced Mr Cannonier as premier and was an UBP Opposition leader, was also absent from the ceremony, but said he had other commitments.
Mr Dunkley declined to say if he thought Mr Cannonier was the right man for the job because he did not want to comment on “internal party issues”.
He said: “I will discuss them in the room with my colleagues, and that’s not changing.”
The Smith’s North MP added that Mr Kempe was “entitled to an opinion”. But he said: “Let’s remember he left the party after being dismissed from the Senate by Mrs Atherden.”
He added Mr Kempe’s views were “more suited to party meetings”.
Mr Dunkley said: “Any party needs a blend of experience and new blood to be successful. The OBA has a foundation if we work together and grow.”
And he called for party unity as the party faced “a crossroads”.
Mr Dunkley said: “We can continue to blame each other for where we are, or work together and have each other’s back to be a strong cohesive unit working for Bermuda.”
He added that Mr Kempe’s criticism of the former UBP component of the OBA was “water off a duck’s back, if he refers to me”.
Mr Dunkley said: “For many years the UBP ran this country very successfully, and for anyone now that wants to beat up on them, that’s fine, but you’re just trying to stick it to somebody when they no longer exist.
“We should be thankful for what they did and the leadership many provided for a better Bermuda.”
Trevor Moniz and Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, also absent from the swearing-in, could not be contacted for comment last night.
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