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Paula Cox: my door is open despite election loss rift with PLP

Independent spirit: Paula Cox, a former Progressive Labour Party premier, launches her campaign as an independent candidate in the 2017 General Election (File photograph)

A former premier has said she bears “no ill will” towards the Progressive Labour Party she quit to run as an independent candidate in 2017.

But Paula Cox added she had “no active or close relationship with the current leadership” of the party.

She added, however: “Certainly, if the PLP wish to reach out, my door is always open.”

Ms Cox, who led the Government from 2010 to 2012, was speaking as she fielded questions on her political career and snap elections on Tuesday’s The Daily Hour talk radio show.

Ms Cox, although she appointed David Burt, the Premier, to the Senate in 2011, told listeners: “We do not have a relationship.”

She highlighted that she had ceased to be a member of the PLP before she launched an independent campaign in Devonshire North West in the 2017 General Election.

Ms Cox lost the constituency to Glen Smith of the One Bermuda Alliance in the 2012 General Election, which saw the OBA form a government.

But the seat returned to the PLP in the 2017 General Election with a convincing majority for the PLP’s Wayne Caines and with Ms Cox last in the three candidate race.

Ms Cox said she had put herself forward for the seat as an independent on “a point of principle”.

She explained: “I thought it was unusual, I thought it was irregular for me to be excluded and screened out as a candidate for the party.”

Ms Cox told the show’s hosts Jamel Hardtman and Mikaela Ian: “While I don’t think it’s a lot of benefit looking through the rear-view mirror, since you ask, I didn’t think it was right.”

She added she had told the PLP chairman the same in 2017 when she resigned from the party – after Mr Caines was picked for the seat despite her selection by the constituency branch.

Ms Cox told the Daily Hour that “taking a stand” sometimes had to be done “even when you will attract criticism; even when the outcome won’t necessarily be a win”.

She added that she supported the Government and did not see herself running as a candidate for another party – but that she could run again as an independent.

Much of Ms Cox’s two-year leadership of the PLP was dogged by questions about when to call an election.

The opposition vote at the time was split between the United Bermuda Party and the Bermuda Democratic Alliance.

There were calls for a snap election after the two merged in April 2011 to form the OBA, which went on to win at the polls in December 2012.

But Ms Cox said the country was still mired in an economic downturn from the 2008 recession and that an early election would have involved a “selfish point of view”.

She added: “Rather than just calling a snap election and probably cleaning up at the polls, let’s show people who we are.”

But she admitted the decision to hold off on a vote had cost the party.

Ms Cox said: “People felt I should have leveraged my political capital when I first became the leader.”

She added: “That’s a valid complaint. For me, I felt that would be taking advantage of the people.”

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Published September 23, 2021 at 7:36 am (Updated September 23, 2021 at 3:04 pm)

Paula Cox: my door is open despite election loss rift with PLP

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