Dickinson’s actions since resigning suggest he is no political novice
If revenge is best served cold, Curtis Dickinson just poured a bucket of ice over David Burt’s head.
Prowling the premier from the long grass for seven months of mounting frustration, the former finance minister finally decided to strike and challenge his one-time close Cabinet colleague for control of the Progressive Labour Party.
Many had doubted whether the urbane, wonkish, former banker had the political ambition to step out of his fiscal comfort zone and take on the rough and tumble of being PLP chief and head of government, but Mr Dickinson has been on manoeuvres for a while.
But, to prove himself to those in the party who might dub him a ‘limousine liberal’, Mr Dickinson must know he will need to appear less Wall Street and more streetwise in the weeks ahead.
After the pre-Budget bust-up with the premier which saw him quit his post just days before the keynote fiscal statement, Mr Burt liked to portray himself as a sort of mentor to Mr Dickinson, claiming he had brought him into Government after introducing him to international finance ministers along the way.
But, if it was some kind of political love-in for a while, it was ironic that Mr Dickinson walked out on the partnership on Valentine’s Day.
There was certainly no love lost between the pair in the months that followed as Mr Burt, and other senior ministers, took turns sniping at the ex-finance minister as they claimed he had previously been in favour of sweeteners for the massive Fairmont Southampton revamp province – the very thing he quit the Cabinet over.
Some have claimed Mr Dickinson lacks a killer political instinct, but he knew when to strike for maximum impact and delivered a wounding blow as he broke his silence and – insisted he resigned as a “man of principle” – the cutting implication being certain PLP opponents were not.
He twisted the knife by saying that the Premier had “confused” voters over the Fairmont Southampton guarantee terms, making it very clear he felt the new finance minister – a certain David Burt – was no master of finance.
The implication was that Mr Burt either did not understand how such financial matters work, or that he did not care if such information was incorrect.
Mr Dickinson has always insisted that he was not a politician – but, with the clock ticking down to his face off with the premier, he does not have long to prove that he really is.
Sharp suits are not enough to get you to the top of the PLP – you need sharp elbows as well.