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October years in review Cox storms to victory in race for the Premiership

Victory: Premier Paula Cox and Deputy Premier Derrick Burgess emerge from Devonshire Rec after being elected Leader and Deputy Leader of the Progressive Labour Party.

Paula Cox became Bermuda’s new Premier after storming to victory at an historic Progressive Labour Party delegates’ conference at the end of October.Ms Cox touted as the obvious successor to Ewart Brown throughout her four years as Deputy Premier picked up 75 percent of the votes as she defeated backbenchers Terry Lister and Dale Butler in an emotional night at Devonshire Recreation Club.As well as the beginning of a new era, it marked the end of the longest leadership battle in Bermuda’s history, with all three candidates having launched their bids two months before Dr Brown stepped down at the end of his four-year tenure.Mr Lister, whose series of town hall meetings was by the far most public campaign, went into the election confident of victory, despite a poll showing Ms Cox was streets ahead within the PLP and the Country as a whole.But, on the night, rapturous appreciation for Ms Cox’s calm speech about the PLP legacy compared with muted applause for her two rivals was a clear indication of where the delegates stood.By 10pm on Thursday, October 28, Ms Cox emerged as winner, claiming 124 votes to Mr Lister’s 39, and just two for Mr Butler.The new Premier had done most of her campaigning out of the spotlight, promising delegates she would reverse the soaring debt that characterised Dr Brown’s leadership, and make savings of $150 million in her first year as Premier.“I feel really pleased and also aware that we have a lot of work to do,” an understated Ms Cox told the media immediately after the result in a press conference which, considering the circumstances, was remarkably low key.Mr Lister, a strong critic of Government’s overspending, had also pledged to cut back on consultants and travel while putting fiscal restraints in place, as well as making the Social Rehabilitation Ministry the focus of the fight against crime and to improve education.But maverick Mr Butler, viewed as a rank outsider despite his popularity outside the PLP, had a list of ideas which virtually guaranteed failure with the target audience.Delivering his speech in a captain’s hat, he vowed to appoint United Bermuda Party stalwarts John Barritt and Grant Gibbons to his team and give The Royal Gazette its advertising back. Of the two votes he picked up, one was his own.Things got worse for Mr Butler when his hopes to run for Deputy were dashed because he didn’t get nominated from the floor. Derrick Burgess won that race despite the challenges of Mr Lister, Michael Weeks, Walter Roban and Randy Horton.While most eyes had been on the leadership battle, outgoing Premier Dr Brown ensured he still grabbed his share of the headlines as he played out a long farewell during his final month as leader of the Country.Dr Brown lashed out at this newspaper in a media round-table event at Berkeley Cafetorium, laughing off criticism of his unprecedented high travel expenses and saying he’d faced more attacks than any other Premier because of his combative style warning whomever succeeds him needs to brace themselves for more of the same.The day before the leadership contest, Dr Brown concluded his term with possibly his angriest speech of all in his final delivery to the PLP.He claimed there’s a hidden enemy inside the PLP trying to destroy everything people have been trying to build, and described the “Combined Opposition” his catch-all term for everyone who’s out to get him as a desperate, cornered animal, “perhaps the deadliest of all the denizens of the wild”.