‘Robust exchanges’ take place at PLP retreat
“Robust exchanges” took place at a retreat for Progressive Labour Party MPs and senators on Saturday, a well-placed source has said.
The retreat was originally intended as a “heal the wounds” meeting following the fraught party leadership battle last autumn, but ripples were created at last Wednesday’s parliamentary caucus discussion when some of those present wanted the scope of the weekend event widened.
Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister who attempted to topple David Burt as party leader in October, did not attend, it is understood.
The PLP source told The Royal Gazette: “There were some robust exchanges.
”The leadership contest did come up in the discussions.
“Wider issues were also aired.
“The PLP is like a family and, just like a family, some things get said and some straight talking gets done at meet-ups.
“People made it clear where they were coming from on issues and party matters, so it was healthy in that sense.”
An official party statement yesterday said the retreat was in keeping with the party's long-established practice and legislators had engaged in “impactful discussions” on community leadership and policy strategies.
At the caucus meeting ahead of the retreat, some party figures expressed unhappiness that the weekend gathering was being pitched by the leadership along the lines of “we don’t have to love each other, but we do need to work together” as they wanted a more in-depth exchange of ideas and concerns.
A PLP spokesman said yesterday the gathering featured “impactful discussions”.
The spokesman said: "The Progressive Labour Party is a strong and community-focused party.
“Through constant dialogue with different communities across our island home, the PLP takes each opportunity to listen.
“This means conversations at the doorstep, at community meetings, through our parliamentary group, with advocates, with the business community, and labour unions.
“These conversations and engagements also help us carefully develop ideas and policies to help better deliver services for people and see our country through these tough times.
“To this end and, in keeping with the party's long-established practice, the PLP convened a parliamentary group retreat this weekend.
“This successful retreat included members of the parliamentary group engaging in impactful discussions on a variety of topics such as the important role of community leadership and developing strategies for next steps.
“The PLP remains committed to building a better Bermuda through continued collaboration.”
The retreat came in the wake of the October leadership contest in which Mr Burt beat Mr Dickinson to retain the top job. Walter Roban fought off a bid to oust him as deputy leader by Renée Ming, the former national security minister.
Mr Burt won the contest by 97 to 56 delegate votes, which was closer than expected despite being a clear majority.
In a sometimes tense battle for the PLP crown, there were complaints from the Dickinson camp that information about delegates was not being shared readily enough.
Mr Dickinson refused to take part in the first scheduled head-to-head debate with only hours to spare after he said assurances made to him about the format of the event had not been fulfilled.
Unlike Mr Burt, the former finance minister was not allowed to address the PLP conference in October.
In the closing days of the campaign, Mr Dickinson accused the Premier of being a “liar” who was taking Bermuda to “the brink” economically.
Internal PLP tensions were also stoked when the usual pre-Throne Speech retreat did not take place and ministers were instead asked to present the Premier with three policy ideas each that he could either “choose or refuse”.
Another PLP source has compared the atmosphere in the party to that of the fractured relationship in the Royal Family between Prince William and Prince Harry.