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OBA leader Atherden to focus on the future

Jeanne Atherden (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The old guard of the One Bermuda Alliance is set to be sidelined to make way for new blood, new party leader Jeanne Atherden signalled yesterday.

Ms Atherden, Leader of the Opposition, said her party was in a transition to “rebuild, rebrand and reconnect”.

She added the OBA needed “to get more people into the room”.

She explained: “We have to expand diversity not only in gender but racially and in age. If we can do that, we can focus on what we should be doing.”

Ms Atherden said that the Future Bermuda Alliance, the party’s youth wing, was “very important because as the more seasoned people move out, we have people to take their place”.

But Ms Atherden said older party members had a role to play in guiding the next generation.

She said: “You can’t transition without some people having training in how to get out and work with their constituents.

“That is all part and parcel of us rebuilding the team.”

Asked to respond to criticism that her party had failed to provide effective opposition thus far, Ms Atherden said: “We know that we have to become a viable Opposition because Bermuda demands that.”

She added: “If there’s something that we support, we’ll support it, but if we feel it is not the best for Bermuda, we will give the Government and the people of Bermuda our full attention.”

“We will become more vocal, but vocal with a purpose.”

Former senator Nick Kempe last week quit as OBA chairman after only five days in the post.

Party sources said Mr Kempe was blindsided by his removal from the Senate two days before.

An insider said the decision by Ms Atherden was not discussed with Mr Kempe.

Ms Atherden said: “I made an appointment with Justin Mathias as the senate replacement.

“As a consequence, that meant Nick was the person who came out.”

Ms Atherden said she saw the job of party chairman as a “very major role”, and that there was “a lot to be done”.

She added: “It meant Justin going in and Nick going out.”

Ms Atherden said the OBA had to reconnect with voters “from Somerset to St George’s”.

She added the party had to meet constituents in their communities and talk to them about the issues and what had to be done to improve Bermuda.

Ms Atherden said: “Just because we are not the government that doesn’t mean we can’t work to improve the lot of Bermudians, not just trying to win political votes.

“We want to be the party that truly represents the issues that are important to them.”

Ms Atherden was appointed party leader less than two weeks ago after she beat former party leaders Craig Cannonier and Patricia Gordon-Pamplin.