No challenge to Bean, says PLP source
Progressive Labour Party leader Marc Bean will face no challenges at the Opposition's delegates' conference, according to a senior party source, who said a string of leaked e-mails criticising his performance had sounded harsher than the reality.
Without a substantial move to unseat him, Mr Bean remains set under the party's constitution to lead the PLP into the next election, which has to come by December 2017.
“That's just the nature of debate, when you know you're having a confidential discussion,” the source said of last week's testy exchange between MPs Wayne Furbert, Zane DeSilva and Derrick Burgess, and Mr Bean. Leaked to The Royal Gazette, the messages were published in full in Saturday's edition. Mr Bean, meanwhile, has said the party is not seriously divided — a sentiment backed up by the source that spoke with us yesterday. “How you handle division is what's critical. Those viewpoints do not inherently mean a fundamental division within the party.”
Adding that the Opposition looked well-placed to retake the Government at the upcoming General Election, the source said the party's top priority was to pull together, and focus on unity.
“E-mails within caucus are meant to be as frank as possible. People express themselves in a variety of ways when they believe they are speaking in private.
“The point is to get contentious issues resolved.”
However, the source added that the ball was very much in Mr Bean's court to ensure that the Opposition ranks pulled together, after many months of discontent expressed by several of his MPs over his leadership style. “We have a window of only one year or so to win the election — and a year goes by very quickly.”
The heated e-mails emerged after some of Mr Bean's colleagues voiced concern at Mr Bean's language in a candid interview with journalist Ayo Johnson, where the leader — who has been on medical leave since a stroke in March — alleged that MPs within both parties subscribed to a self-interested “politics of plunder”.
Mr Furbert's warning e-mail prompted a sharp rebuke from Mr Bean, accusing him of playing a role in an “illegal and disrespectful” attempt to oust him in the caucus.
While Mr Bean's four-year position as leader is technically assured until 2018, a subsequent e-mail from Zane DeSilva made reference to cases in which leaders have been knocked off their pedestal.
Mr DeSilva's e-mail, which accused Mr Bean of giving “wild, psychotic and disrespectful statements”, noted the case of former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith, unseated in 2003 by pressure from her own MPs, as well as Patrice Minors, who declined to serve as a minister under former Premier Ewart Brown.
If sufficient dissatisfaction existed, 12 of the party branches could call for a special delegates' conference to challenge a party leader — as Opposition sources claimed was in the works in December after the resignations from the Shadow Cabinet of Walton Brown, Derrick Burgess, Zane DeSilva, Rolfe Commissiong, Wayne Furbert, Kim Wilson and Glenn Blakeney, who retired as an MP.
With the governing One Bermuda Alliance seen as weakened by gaffes that have painted the party as disconnected from ordinary Bermudians, all eyes will be on Mr Bean's return to the PLP leadership, said to be coming soon.
The Opposition's annual delegates' conference, meanwhile, is scheduled for October.