OBA insider hits out at all-male line-up
An Opposition party member broke ranks yesterday over the appointment of senators after the announcement of an all-male line-up.
Marcus Jones, a former Progressive Labour Party election candidate, and Dwayne Robinson will join Nick Kempe in the One Bermuda Alliance benches of the Senate.
They were appointed by new Opposition leader Craig Cannonier, who took the role after eight of the party's MPs backed a vote of no confidence in Jeanne Atherden. Leah Scott remains the deputy leader.
An insider said some members were worried about the direction of the party and concerns about gender balance were backed by Alexa Lightbourne, chairwoman of the PLP's women's caucus.
The OBA source said: “After a month of anticipation, a lot of members are starting to question the decision-making of Craig and Leah, and by extension the coup members.
“It's been very noticeable that all the women and youth within the party are those who are getting purged, not the United Bermuda Party types, which was their and Nick Kempe's vision.
“We went from having a woman leader to a male leader, and an all-female Senate team to an all-male Senate team.
“This is not the direction or history that I believe the party should be heading towards.
“As a woman, the deputy leader should have stood up, but it's being made very clear internally that not only does she want to be the top female, she's making moves to be the only female, and that's deplorable.”
The insider added that it appeared that women and longstanding party members had been sidelined in favour of “individuals who just became party members and supporters and one of those individuals is a former PLP member”.
He said: “It just looks like desperation.”
The source claimed: “I know that during off-site meetings the group that is now in control talked about forming an all-black party so that in their minds they can compete against the PLP.
“If they are heading down this path of becoming more PLP-like then I feel that the future of the party is perilous.”
Ms Lightbourne said it was “unfortunate” that the OBA had “made Senate appointments which show a lack of gender diversity”.
The trio are expected to take their Senate seats when Parliament resumes this month.
Mr Jones stood for the PLP in the 2012 General Election, when he came second with 127 votes to the OBA's Susan Jackson, who took Pembroke South West with 654 votes.
He said yesterday: “I can appreciate the diversity of the OBA.
“My ideas for economic prosperity are also more in line with the OBA than the PLP.
“A big part, also, is Craig Cannonier. His passion and vision for this country got my attention and prompted me to offer my assistance.”
Mr Jones added: “I am concerned for the future of the next generation; having a strong economy that can create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities; and paying off our debt.
“Despite the challenges facing us, Bermuda has a great future and I see opportunities for Bermuda to reinvent itself, diversify its income streams and reform its immigrations laws to satisfy the wide cross-section of its residents.”
Mr Robinson, 24, is one half of It's That Type of Party, an online political comedy show co-hosted with Trae Cannonier, the son of the OBA leader.
Mr Robinson said: “I wanted to get involved because I believe I can bring a different perspective to the political arena and can advocate for the underrepresented younger generation and the arts community.”
Mr Robinson floated the possibility of a political career with the OBA after a party caucus meeting in September.
He said he would step down from hosting the “politically independent” Facebook-based show if he was successful in joining the ranks.
But a party spokesman said yesterday Mr Robinson was “reviewing his role as the business looks to expand”.
Mr Cannonier said: “The OBA is a diverse party that believes in inclusion and I welcome Marcus with open arms. He is an experienced and astute person.
“I have known Dwayne for many years and I have been greatly impressed by his knowledge, enthusiasm and ability.
“Alongside Nick Kempe as Senate leader, Dwayne and Marcus gives us a very talented Senate team.”