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Leadership challenge not quite out of the question

OK, the ink has dried on Curtis Dickinson's resignation, there was no applause for the David Burt’s swearing-in ceremony as Minister of Finance, and why not? Was it because there were others whom the public had in mind as suitably qualified or more efficient use of parliamentary material, or was it that there were no others as close to the Premier that could be trusted by him to be loyal to his premiership and agenda? Or is that he just happens to be the best man for that job also?

Curtis Dickinson has kept his counsel over his future in politics and the reasons for quitting the finance portfolio (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Bermuda politics has been known to be a knife-and-dagger business. Premiers have always to be minded that there are continual plots and mischief, and when there is not enough meat to feed the hyenas, your own meat begins to smell pretty good.

Yes, it was sad that Curtis resigns just before a Budget, particularly when the economy couldn’t possibly look worse. He cannot be that callous unless there is another motive that has not been really discussed.

This is not a republic where every person is included in things such as the presidency and a structured world where there is a vote every four years like clockwork — when there are primaries followed by a General Election and a level of predictability. This is a parliamentary democracy where the Premier is only “first among equals”.

But I said equals, didn’t I, so you can bet that one of the equals wants to be first. Under such a system, the ethics of “trust no one” becomes your shield and sword. If any have been alive for the past 30 years, you have seen the sword used a few times.

I heard someone say, “Well, Curtis may be putting himself in position for the next delegates conference.” How cute. The delegates are stacked and everyone knows it. The leader of the party gets to see all the complaints and issues beforehand, even the agenda. Dame Jennifer Smith survived for how many minutes after she won the second term while the leader of the Progressive Labour Party?

The party has one rule for its leader; the Parliament has another. Parliament operates on the principle of “who commands the majority” and not “who has the party’s support”. I don’t think Mr Dickinson is that naïve, nor is the back bench.

Mr Burt may not have the stick and carrot to stave off any contender who can get 13 others among his ranking fellow backbenchers and the six from the One Bermuda Alliance who have been sending kisses from across the aisle and charming the life out of Curtis with “how we miss you so much”.

Parliamentary politics is a nasty game, possibly with the sole advantage that if you want to bring about change, all you need is a simple majority at almost any time to accomplish it. Vicious leaders will flush coup attempts down the toilet by springing a snap election, knowing the party machinery can get rid of the threatening individuals. There, too, depending on the circumstance, that could be risky business and give life to another entity. However, if you are desperate to hold on to the only power you may see in your life, a desperate man may do that.

I don’t believe we will need to wait too long, certainly not until October. The match is lit, the fire has been kindled, the forest is dry. The only thing a threatened leader would be singing now is, “Oh, how I wish it would rain.”

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Published February 21, 2022 at 7:59 am (Updated February 21, 2022 at 7:24 am)

Leadership challenge not quite out of the question

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