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PLP insider: Majority of members want to give Marc Bean a chance

Just four months into his tenure as the Leader of the Opposition, Marc Bean is enjoying an easy uphill climb.

A random survey of observers and insiders conducted by this newspaper found that Mr Bean’s supporters are cautiously optimistic about his prospects at the helm of the Island’s first political party.

One Progressive Labour Party member noted that many within the party were supportive of Mr Bean but it was too early to tell whether he would succeed as leader.

“He’s taking a middle of the road approach to appeal to everyone. In the aftermath of the defeat I think he’s really looking to bring people together.”

Will he succeed? With Terry Lister’s defection to independence, Randolph Horton’s decision to take up the mantle of Speaker and former Senator Vincent Ingham’s resignation, Mr Bean has had a rough start.

“I think its still early days yet. I think people are still looking and watching and time will tell. The majority of the party wants to give him a shot.

“People are more positive than negative but it’s still early days and he’s still making his mark,” said our insider who wanted to remain anonymous.

Mr Bean who will be up for re-election in October 2014 has been trying to position the Progressive Labour Party closer to the centre after its first defeat at the polls in 14 years.

His message is that the traditionally labour party must also be pro business, and that Bermudians should be empowered to do for themselves rather than depend on the state.

“Basically, its about pulling up your socks and making something of your life,” said the party insider. “People want to be empowered as opposed to looking for a handout. But he’s talking economically as well.

“He feels Bermuda’s people have to be more entrepreneurially spirited and pull themselves up. It resonated well at the delegate’s conference.”

Mr Bean does have his detractors — some feel he’s pushing the party to the right — but they are few and far apart and unwilling to discuss their views publicly.

Kim Swan, the former MP and leader of the United Bermuda Party, who now views himself as “an opposition voice from an independent perspective” is sold on Mr Bean’s centrist vision.

“You cannot have successful labour unless you have businesses to employ. I think that’s a reasonable approach,” Mr Swan said.

He’s also impressed by Mr Bean’s message to the average Bermudian.

“He’s trying to encourage his base to take up the mantle and look at the opportunities of becoming entrepreneurs. I have to support that.

“I think in Bermuda politics is rigidly divided by race. Bermuda needs persons to be encouraged to become business owners. That’s the type of vision you put onto people.

“If you don’t plant those seeds, if you don’t encourage people to look beyond their present day circumstance, you stay stuck on the treadmill.”

For Mr Swan, Marc Bean is practising the kind of leadership Bermuda needs.

“Bermuda needs strong Opposition but it also needs people to speak to their base and take it forward to a better place. Both parties need to do that.

“They need to figure out what’s the better place — and its not just economics. There is a better place for Bermudians to feel better about their country.”

And Shadow Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert predicts that the PLP will grow “in leaps and bounds” under his leadership going forward.

“The guy has got it right. Business cannot work without labour and labour cannot work without business. So I’m excited.”

Charles Jeffers, former leader of the now defunct National Liberal Party has a more nuanced view.

Mr Bean had gotten off to a “great” start, he said, but some of his public pronouncements may not have been consistent with his earlier statements.

“But overall I would say that he hasn’t caused any eyebrows to be severely raised,” Mr Jeffers said. “He’s young. I believe his heart is with the PLP but I wonder if he can serve two masters.

“Can you serve your party and the people of Bermuda or will you find yourself being managed by the party rather than the people?”

Opposition Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean on the Cabinet grounds in Hamilton during the Re-Convening of the Legislature in November. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published April 26, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated April 25, 2013 at 11:40 pm)

PLP insider: Majority of members want to give Marc Bean a chance

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