Dickinson pulls out of leadership debate after failure to get promised assurances – sources
Curtis Dickinson pulled out of the first head-to-head debate for the Progressive Labour Party leadership contest because he was not given the assurances he said he was promised on how it would be handled, sources close to the former finance minister told The Royal Gazette.
The debate between Mr Dickinson and the Premier, David Burt, was due to take place on Saturday, but was cancelled with the PLP citing a “logistical error”.
Sources close to Mr Dickinson alleged concerns about how the election process was being handled.
It is understood that a letter sent to the deputy PLP chairwoman, Lauren Hayward Bell, from Mr Dickinson expressed grave reservations about how the situation was being dealt with.
The letter alleged concerns that Mr Burt and deputy premier Walter Roban had access to a list of delegates who will decide the contests for the top two jobs in the PLP before the former cabinet minister did.
Mr Dickinson also said former national security minister Renée Ming, who is challenging for the deputy leadership, too was denied the information.
The leadership debate had been scheduled to take place at St Paul’s, Hamilton, at 7.30pm on Saturday.
Mr Dickinson is understood to have written to the deputy chairwoman expressing “grave concern” about how his bid for the leadership, and Ms Ming’s bid for the deputy leadership of the PLP, had been dealt with.
Referring to a letter received the day before, Mr Dickinson wrote on October 7: “I write to express my deep disappointment with its content, which, together with a series of occurrences that have been experienced by MP Ming and myself over the recent few weeks as they relate to our candidacies for the party leader and the party leader, give me cause for great concern.
“For this to be the first and only communication from the executive in relation to the debates is simply unacceptable.
“While you have indicated that this was an oversight, unfortunately the oversight seemingly fits a pattern that paints a disturbing picture.
“You will recall that exhaustive discussions were had during central committee meetings about the party’s sharing of delegates’ contact details.
“It was decided that once a candidate had announced their intention to contest either the party leadership or the deputy party leadership positions, that those individuals would be provided with the delegate information.
“Following the announcement of MP Ming’s and my candidacies, we were denied access to the delegate information that has clearly been in the possession of the party leader and deputy party leader.
“We have been advised, and many members of the party are aware, that the party leader, the deputy party leader and the members of their team had contacted last year’s delegates before August 31.
“These engagements continued, with some of the newly selected delegates having reported being contacted by the party leader and his team before the release of the final list to MP Ming and myself.
“I would note that, unlike your e-mail, that was sent to myself and the party leader in the spirit of transparency, such transparency was not the case with respect to the distribution of the delegates’ list to MP Ming and myself.
“We have no way of knowing when such information was shared with the party leader and deputy party leader.”
Mr Dickinson also raised concerns about the “constitutionality” about the planned leaders’ debates.
There has been no response from the PLP for clarification despite repeated efforts from The Royal Gazette to gain answers over the weekend.