OBA told to cut UBP connection
Political observers said last night that the One Bermuda Alliance had to ditch its United Bermuda Party legacy.
Former OBA minister Michael Fahy, one of the party's founders, said it faced a painful reappraisal after it was returned to the opposition benches in July.
Mr Fahy was speaking in the wake of the resignation of party chairman Nick Kempe.
Mr Kempe quit after new party leader Jeanne Atherden axed him from the Senate.
Mr Fahy warned that, unless the OBA was “prepared to make really tough choices, and until the new leader articulates a solid vision for Bermuda, the immediate future for the party is not good”.
He added: “There are many great, hard-working and intelligent people in the OBA who want what is best for all Bermudians, and I believe it is still the better option long term for Bermuda.”
The one-time Minister of Home Affairs called on the OBA to find “new energy” and refocus — and highlighted Mr Kempe's criticism of its direction.
Mr Fahy told The Royal Gazette: “Nick brought that focus to the table and showed his passion and ability in two elections, and with his leadership as chairman of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation.
“However, his frustration with the direction the OBA has now taken is justified and his explanation for his resignation is clear.”
Mr Kempe declared his rift with Ms Atherden's vision for the party in a no-punches-pulled e-mail sent to OBA members last Friday.
He said: “My vision for the future of the OBA relative to its rebuilding is diametrically opposed to that of the leader”.
The party's former Pembroke West candidate quit his post just five days after being elected chairman, due to “fundamental political and policy discordance”.
Mr Fahy quit politics in August after the OBA's defeat in July's General Election.
He underlined the party's image problems and its failure to communicate its vision.
Mr Fahy was backed by former Pembroke South East candidate Rodney Smith.
Mr Smith criticised the OBA as out of touch after its electoral defeat and said the Opposition “definitely” had to cut its UBP links.
He added: “They have to do it. It's difficult — people grew up under the UBP and there's a mindset that comes with that.
“But the public has spoken and it would do well for the OBA to listen.”
Mr Smith said former UBP figures now in the OBA like Grant Gibbons, Trevor Moniz and Michael Dunkley should “realise that they have made contributions — and it's time to move on”.
He added that he had “told that to the party back in July, immediately after the defeat”.
Mr Smith said: “The more striking thing is that the Progressive Labour Party has garnered the largest victory in the history of Bermuda.
“The OBA need to realise that as long as the race card is in play, they will never again win an election — so how do you combat that?”
Mr Smith said the deadlock could be broken with “two black political parties to compete against each other”.
“The white support can go wherever it wants. People will vote based on issues.
He added: “As former finance minister, Bob Richards said, ‘no good deed goes unpunished'.
“He worked very hard to turn the economy around, but there were other things that the black community and the majority of Bermudians felt that the OBA was not addressing.”
Mr Smith praised Mr Kempe as “very positive, a hard worker”.
He said: “It's sad to see him take a back seat but, like him, others are trying to encourage the party to take a step forward.”
Mr Smith added the Opposition had to work with the PLP, saying the OBA needed to move past “the continuous fight”.
“We must support the new Opposition leader Ms Atherden — but I'd hoped that she would have shown herself prepared to break from the past.”
Ms Atherden was not available for comment yesterday and Mr Kempe declined to comment further.