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Wayne Furbert: ‘Yes, I probably was being a surrogate’

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The United Bermuda Party used “black surrogates” in an attempt to secure power, according to its former leader Wayne Furbert.

The Transport Minister acknowledged that he “probably was being a surrogate” while a member of the UBP.

He said a “group” met to orchestrate the formation of the One Bermuda Alliance long before its current leader, Craig Cannonier, knew about it.

The Progressive Labour Party member said he could attest that “the UBP secret plan” was a document he had seen.

Mr Furbert, who left the UBP three years ago, said the document included a recommendation that the party’s former head Michael Dunkley had “too high” a profile and that “black surrogates” should be used for political advantage.

He made his comments at a press conference yesterday also attended by Walton Brown, PLP candidate for Pembroke Central.

Mr Brown said there was “a clear linkage” between the UBP and the OBA, which he implied had been aimed at manipulating voters.

Mr Furbert called upon former UBP members now members of the OBA Grant Gibbons, Michael Dunkley and Glen Smith “to come clean and confirm that the report exists”.

And he repeatedly accused the OBA of following cynical race-vote strategies that he said were adopted from the UBP.

Lawyers for US consultant Marius Penczner have insisted that the media strategist didn’t write the document which was released on ubpleaks.com as the UBP’s “secret plan” in 2007.

Mr Furbert expressed surprise at the denial.

He said Mr Penczer had written the report, the strategy of which was “to help the old UBP guard to regain power”.

He said the consultant was “a paid, influential strategist” for the UBP and “remains an influential strategist with the OBA”.

Mr Furbert said he’d called for the OBA to “come clean” about the report in the House of Assembly in May 2011.

He said he hadn’t gone along with the report, which blamed UBP election losses in key constituencies on “downscale and less educated Bermudian voters”.

“I left the United Bermuda Party in 2009,” he said. “I had talked about changing the United Bermuda Party but the whole change didn’t come about through trying to attract black voters.

“The whole change came about because I felt deep in my heart that the white community needed to make a real change.

“I felt that they needed to get involved in the Progressive Labour Party, and from that aspect, the real change would have taken place for Bermuda.”

He continued: “But this report was talking about going after and attracting, as the old UBP used to say, at least 25 percent of the black support.

“It is totally wrong, if we’re going to make Bermuda a better place, that the OBA continue to try to hold on to 95 percent of the white support, and just try to go after at least 25 percent, to win an election.

“That, to my mind, is totally wrong. We need a change in this community and we need a change now.”

Asked if he considered himself to have been a “black surrogate” while in the UBP, Mr Furbert said: “You know, when I think about it, I probably was.”

He continued: “Because in 2006, when I was elected as the leader of the United Bermuda Party, the reason was, and it was very clear — we went through a whole year of discussions with consultants, discussions with other strategists, that you had to be black to be the leader.

“And that’s why it really concerns me about Craig [Cannonier]. Because I feel deeply in my heart when I look at myself and [former UBP leader] Kim Swan in particular, that for the leader to only be black in the United Bermuda Party to attract the black votes, we have to move away from that.

“And yes, I probably was being a surrogate at the time.”

He said it was his belief that Mr Dunkley “has been quiet for an extremely long time” because the OBA was following the report’s recommendations.

“If you look at what the report said Michael, you’ve got a high profile; that we need to put out black surrogates.

“Well, if you ask the question who has been put out there for the last month or two, it has not been Michael Dunkley, it has not been Grant Gibbons, it has not been Trevor Moniz. It’s been who? I leave that question for you to answer.”

He said of Mr Cannonier’s assertion that the “secret plan” was an outright fake: “Is he saying the Government would produce this report and put it out there? Well, I saw this report in 2008.”

Mr Brown said the advice given in the secret report had been followed “to the letter”.

Asked for his view on its implications, he said: “I think it means that the One Bermuda Alliance was formed as a result of the very carefully planned and executed strategy by a group of individuals who at one time controlled the United Bermuda Party and wanted to ensure power once again.

“And so, in their effort to secure power, they devised a strategy, in conjunction with their overseas consultants, and they began to execute it.”

PLP member Wayne Furbert who is also a former UBP Leader and PLP member Walton Brown speak during a press conference held at the PLP headquarter Monday to discuss the UBP secret paper (Photo by Glenn Tucker)

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Published December 04, 2012 at 8:00 am (Updated December 04, 2012 at 12:39 am)

Wayne Furbert: ‘Yes, I probably was being a surrogate’

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