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Former Premier says PLP must be a strong Opposition for the good of Bermuda

Former Premier Alex Scott is hoping that the Progressive Labour Party takes an aggressive stance on the Opposition benches in the new Parliament.

“My suggestion to the Opposition is to be both aggressive and progressive and have a robust approach to dealing with the Government in Parliament,” Mr Scott told

The Royal Gazette.

“The best possible Government for Bermuda would be realised if the Opposition remains aggressive. Usain Bolt runs his best race when he has strong competition. If the Government of the day is not pressed, Bermuda will not get policies that are tried and tested.

“So the notion that the Opposition should work with the Government is an ill placed thought.”

A 19-17 split between the two parties means that both sides will have to be very disciplined in terms of attendance in the House, Mr Scott noted.

“It’s up to the whips of both parties. The whips have to require them to be in their seats or provide a very substantive explanation for their absence.

“They (MPs) have a very serious charge from the voters and probably more so than ever.” A strong majority in the House takes the pressure from both the Government and the Opposition, he explained.

Mr Scott is of the view that the next 18 months will be crucial for the Government side — failure to sustain a legislative agenda could lead to an early election.

That’s assuming the Government can get its Budget passed. Failure to pass a Budget will quickly lead to another election.

But it’s unclear, speaking to the current crop of PLP MPs, whether the Opposition is going to be that aggressive.

Devonshire North MP Glenn Blakeney said the One Bermuda Alliance Government faced a “very tall order” meeting its election promises.

“I expect they are going to be held to account by the incredible team of the Progressive Labour Party, in doing its due diligence and representing its constituency Island-wide in the best interests of the entire country.”

Party leader Marc Bean said: “We will be the best Opposition that Bermuda deserves and we will conduct ourselves as a Government in waiting.”

The PLP, he added, will constructively criticise government legislation and policies and use “all the tools at our disposal”.

The Island’s first political party takes its place on the Opposition benches today for the first time since 1998.

Of the 17 MPs elected last year, five are first time parliamentarians, compared to eight on the Government side. But of the five PLP newbies, two — David Burt and Kim Wilson — have had experience as Senators. Only one first time MP on the Government side — Pembroke West representative Jeanne Atherden — has been in the Upper House.

Just four of the PLP’s 17 were present when the party took power in 1998 and one of them, Randolph Horton, is likely to be elected Speaker of the House of Assembly today.

The PLP made a decision two weeks ago not to nominate anyone for the Speaker.

Mr Horton made clear his ambition to be Speaker shortly after the December 17 poll but has kept a low profile since.

Premier Craig Cannonier has also acknowledged having approached Mr Horton. Most observers believe that he will accept the nomination from Government this morning in spite of the fact that the PLP has made a policy decision that its members should not take such positions. Insiders say it is unlikely that Mr Horton will be expelled from the party if he does become Speaker because it will make little strategic sense — the Speaker casts a vote only when the House is tied.

It is understood that Mr Horton has not been attending key party meetings since the election.

*This story has been edited to correct a misquote.

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Published February 08, 2013 at 4:25 pm (Updated February 08, 2013 at 4:24 pm)

Former Premier says PLP must be a strong Opposition for the good of Bermuda

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