Questions lingering over Bean’s future
Questions linger over Marc Bean's future as Opposition Leader, on the eve of tonight's emergency meeting of the Progressive Labour Party central committee at party headquarters.
Sources within the PLP suggested a split between the party's old guard and its less senior membership, with some of Mr Bean's younger support base said to have drifted in the aftermath of its 2012 election loss.
It comes as party sources indicate that Glenn Blakeney, a longstanding Member of Parliament for Devonshire North Central, is to retire for personal reasons — with Philip Butterfield tipped as a potential successor in Constituency 13.
Mr Butterfield, who announced last week that he was stepping down as chairman of the Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust at the end of this year, also said yesterday that he would retire as chairman of HSBC Bermuda.
While the party has firmly denied reports of a formal leadership challenge, pointing out that the decision to replace a leader lies with its delegates, two PLP sources said there had been a tilt in its internal balance of power.
“There are definite rumblings going on,” one told The Royal Gazette, maintaining that some form of vote in relation to the leadership had been taken during the caucus last week.
Zane DeSilva, the Shadow Minister of Tourism and MP for Southampton East, was said to be interested as a contender for party leader.
However, The Royal Gazette understands that Mr DeSilva will be off the Island for tonight's meeting at Alaska Hall.
According to the party's constitution, the central committee, whose membership is not publicly listed, is able to call for a special delegates conference, and also submits items for the agendas at such conferences.
The party's annual general delegates conference was held in October. The overall shift within the Opposition was described as “a split between the old guard and the new guard”, with the power appearing to shift towards more senior party members.
If suggestions of a change in the political balance are correct, they tally with the circumstances behind Mr Bean's successful bid for leadership three years ago, in the reappraisal of the party after the PLP defeat of December 17, 2012.
In that case, Mr Bean took a resounding victory of 111 votes to 35 for contender Terry Lister at a special delegates' conference. Then 38 years old, Mr Bean was praised for bringing youthful energy to the Opposition. Challenged in last year's delegates conference by MP Walton Brown, he decisively retained the party's leader.
However, one PLP source said: “Marc was elected as leader when he had a large amount of support from the young people within the party. Since the PLP lost the government, some of the eagerness from that young group has waned, and now you can see the balance tilting against him.
“The PLP seems to jump from a radical leader to a cog in the wheel.
“We went from Jennifer Smith, who ruled with an iron fist, to Alex Scott, who was seen as more measured, to Ewart Brown and then Paula Cox, before Marc Bean. It would follow from that they would want to replace Marc with someone less radical.”