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Dickinson warns against ‘dirty tricks’ in PLP leadership contest

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Curtis Dickinson has warned the Progressive Labour Party leadership against any “dirty tricks” campaign aimed at trying to derail his bid to take power from David Burt, the Premier.

Former finance minister Curtis Dickinson. (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

As the showdown for the PLP leadership intensified and became more acrimonious, the former finance minister insisted the race for the leadership must be a clean fight.

After dramatically pulling out of the first head-to-head debate with Mr Burt because he appeared to believe the format was rigged against him, Mr Dickinson has called on the PLP not to “fall prey” to underhand practices.

Mr Burt, in an apparent side swipe, said his rival’s withdrawal from the debate must have been “extremely hard” for volunteers in the run-up to the looming October 20 vote for the PLP leadership.

The comments come after Mr Dickinson refused to take part in the scheduled leadership debate with just hours to go on Saturday over concerns regarding the structure of the process.

Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister, and David Burt, the Premier, when they were in Cabinet together (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

It is understood that in a letter written by Mr Dickinson to deputy PLP chairwoman Lauren Hayward Bell, he said: “The Bermuda Progressive Labour Party has a proud history that goes back to 30 years in opposition during which every dirty trick in the book was used against us to keep our party out of government.

“It is unconscionable to think that the party that successfully beat back that behaviour would fall prey to it.

“While it is understandable that an executive team that has been led by a party leader for five years would have an affinity for him and would seek to protect him, the current leadership contest is not a personal attack on him, but instead an exercise of the democracy that is a hallmark of our party that we would want to be seen exercised in our country as well.”

Mr Dickinson has complained that he was not given full access to the list of delegates who will decide the leadership election.

If terms are agreed, the only debate between Mr Burt and Mr Dickinson will take place on Saturday, October, 15.

A debate between the current deputy PLP leader, and deputy premier, Walter Roban, and his challenger, former national security minister Renée Ming, is slated for tomorrow.

Renée Ming, the former national security minister (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

In a statement sent to the PLP membership, Mr Burt expressed “disappointment” that the leadership debate did not go ahead as he put the blame on Mr Dickinson.

He said: “The executive are working really hard to ensure that our internal elections run smoothly, and the last-minute withdrawal of my challenger must have been extremely hard for the volunteers who worked to ensure that we had a good event.”

Mr Burt insisted he had the support of prominent churchman the Reverend Nicholas Tweed and said he was grateful for it.

The Premier also referenced a video widely shared on social media which appears to show him dancing with a woman on a boat.

In an online statement, the Premier states the action was not disrespectful to his wife, Kristin, saying: “Today’s attack on me is a four-year-old video of me dancing on a boat.

“I wouldn’t have thought that dancing to the dollar wine with a tourist who was celebrating her birthday was a bad thing, but today’s attack that I disrespected my wife is laughable.

“Kristin was with me on that boat, and she and I enjoyed showing those who travelled to Cup Match in 2018 a great time.

“I really wish that instead of focusing on personal attacks, we would actually discuss the policies your PLP Government is putting into place to rebuild Bermudians with Bermudians at heart.”

The Government has not responded to inquiries from The Royal Gazette as to whether the boat trip Mr Burt was dancing on was a private gathering or a government or corporate one.

The Royal Gazette reported previously that “leftover cash” from the 2017 America's Cup was used to pay a US company to organise a string of Cup Match parties for social-media “celebrities” in 2018.

Mr Burt and his Cabinet approved the “sole source” contract with Mosaic Sales Solutions for a weekend of events, which cost taxpayers at least $179,000.

The Premier attended some of the “Dream Weekend” activities, including one said in a Cabinet memo to be a “unique and exquisite” dinner and a trip on the luxury charter yacht Venetian.

In an apparent response to comments about the Premier, Mr Dickinson said on Twitter: “The PLP internal elections are just that: internal.

“And as such I call for all leaks to the media and all personal attacks to cease immediately.

“The Premier and his wife Kristen (sic) have our deepest respect and Lisa and I find the attacks on them to be despicable.”

Mr Dickinson added: “I know Reverend Tweed to be a tireless advocate for disadvantaged and downtrodden people. Period.

“There is no basis for the personal attacks circulating on social media.

“At the conclusion of this internal election, the party officers elected by the delegates will need to heal divisions and unite our party.

“Distrust and malicious anonymous attacks will make that task more challenging and impede our collective efforts to address the perilous economic times ahead.

“No matter whose policies you support, these attacks are not in the spirit of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party and our membership. We will have our debate over issues and the way forward, but I join in the call for dignity and honour in our discourse.

“Echoing Reverend Tweed’s call, please pray for us all.“

The leadership vote will be decided by 122 delegates chosen by individual party branches.

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Published October 11, 2022 at 5:01 pm (Updated October 11, 2022 at 5:01 pm)

Dickinson warns against ‘dirty tricks’ in PLP leadership contest

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