David Burt: ‘I will make the best party leader’
David Burt has said he is “confident” of beating off a challenge to his leadership of the Progressive Labour Party.
Mr Burt said he expected to win tomorrow’s battle against former finance minister Curtis Dickinson for control of the PLP.
Asked if he was confident of getting the vote of the delegates, the Premier said: “Oh, I’ve been confident since I ran and started in this election process, as I’ve stated on numerous occasions, but I’m not one to prejudge the opinions of delegates.
“I’m not going to speculate for The Royal Gazette on what’s going on internally.
“We’ll see what the delegates say on Thursday, but I do believe that the work which we have done in the party internally, and seeing this is a public interview, I’m not going to speak about the internal party matters which matter to party members about the things which are taking place in the party.
“But when it comes to executing on our promises, when it comes to delivering lower taxes for working people, advancing issues such as education reform, making sure that we are giving more money back to persons to cope with global inflation, and certainly the performance that the Government had during the pandemic, I am certainly confident. But that will be up for the delegates to decide.”
He added: “And so due to my relationships inside the party, due to the work which I’ve done inside of the party, due to the fact that I have always been committed to the Progressive Labour Party’s progressive economic vision of reducing the burden of taxation for working people, of making sure that those persons who can afford to pay more do pay more, by making sure that we carry out our education reform agenda, and also our healthcare reform agenda, I think that I will make the best party leader — and what we are going in is an election for party leader.”
The comments came on the eve of a vote between the Premier and Mr Dickinson at the PLP conference, which starts tonight.
A short, but punchy campaign, has seen repeated concerns about the potential for “dirty tricks” expressed by Mr Dickinson.
Mr Burt has insisted that nothing underhand has occurred during his bid to retain the leadership.
Mr Dickinson dramatically pulled out of the first scheduled leadership debate at the last minute, claiming that assurances he had been promised regarding its format had not materialised.
He then warned PLP top brass against getting involved in “dirty tricks” to keep Mr Burt in power.
The Dickinson camp also complained that the list of delegates who will decide the contest had not gone to candidates at the same time — something the party firmly denied.
When the two candidates did debate last Saturday, Mr Burt played up his opponent’s background as a Wall Street banker and suggested he would not connect as well with the PLP’s grass roots.
Mr Dickinson countered that the Premier was more concerned about fighting for his job rather than for Bermuda, and said people were now worse off than they were five years ago.
Some 122 delegates, plus the PLP’s 30 MPs, have a vote to decide who will be party leader, and therefore premier.
The position of deputy leader is also being contested with former Cabinet minister Renée Ming challenging Walter Roban for the post.
•The full transcript of the interview with David Burt is attached. The interview with the Premier was conducted by the News Editor, Jeremy Deacon