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Hayward faces backlash after ‘I don’t want your vote’ speech

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Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Opposition has rounded on “shocking” remarks by a government minister who dismissed any prospect of cross party co-operation.

Jason Hayward, the Minister of Economy and Labour, used a Budget speech to make negative comments about inclusion and diversity efforts.

Michael Dunkley, of the One Bermuda Alliance, said the minister had “trashed” David Burt’s call for togetherness and needed to be reined in as such comments would deter international investment in Bermuda.

Mr Hayward, whose portfolio includes encouraging foreign investment and increasing the population, told the House of Assembly he did not want the votes of people who complained they had not been canvassed by him.

The minister said: “We need not this false feeling of diversity and inclusion.

“I am not promoting segregation, but I am not promoting this feel-good diversity and inclusion for diversity and inclusion’s sake.

“Leaders before us have learnt the hard way when they have attempted to work together with individuals who have no interest in working in their best interests. Who want to leverage that relationship, to advantage their own interest.

“Ask Robert Mugabe – some called him a tyrant. But before he was a tyrant he was a national hero.

“He got into power and he did not kick out the entire government. He thought it best that they collectively work together.

“He quickly found out that that was impossible.

“Look at South Africa and see what Nelson Mandela attempted. All his efforts to bring a country together were undermined by one group of individuals.

“And we sit here in Bermuda and think our reality is going to be different?”

Michael Dunkley (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

He added: “When we go out canvassing and we attempt to knock on some doors, people let us know exactly where they stand.

“I have had a dog set on me, canvassing. My colleagues have many of those stories.

“I will stand at the polls and the person will say I haven’t seen you, so you will not get my vote.

“I don’t want your vote.

“For what? So, you feel like you have some kind of control or say over what I do in the future?”

Referring to the island’s history, Mr Hayward said: “The race has been started 400 years ago. There are groups of people who have had a massive head start.

“Our people need to realise we are playing catch-up.

“And, so, it’s for us, understanding that, to be unapologetic in the way we deliver on behalf of the people of this country.

“We need not ask nobody’s assistance. We have the capacity to deliver on behalf of our people and that is why we are here.”

Mr Hayward insisted the Government did not need to be involved with the six OBA MPs because the Progressive Labour Party had 30 members in the House of Assembly.

He said: “The 30 does not need the six – for anything. That is a reality. They have a constitutional role and that is it.

“And we have a mandate, and it is for us to execute on that mandate, regardless of how they think of us, or how they feel, about us, and whether they like it or not.”

Mr Dunkley called on the Premier to address the situation as he said the minister’s comments could put off overseas investors.

He told The Royal Gazette: “This is a shocking way for a senior minister to behave.

“I would urge the Premier to meet with Mr Hayward and let him know that those comments are unacceptable.

“And they also go against remarks made by the Premier himself about inclusiveness.

“The minister’s comments trash the Premier’s comments that we should work together.”

He added: “I don’t particularly care about the 30-6 comment; that’s just political posturing.

“But I do care about the message this sends to business and investors.

“This minister has an important role and he should live up to it. I do not think this is how we attract foreign investment.

“I want to see how the Premier responds to this because there will be repercussions for Bermuda.”

In response to Mr Hayward’s remarks, Corey Butterfield, a former PLP activist tweeted: “Speaking as someone who was involved when PLP was in opposition and who was deep in the campaign in 1998, and who has seen the 2017+ PLP, I will debate you anywhere, anytime on the motion: 'The PLP today (philosophy, priorities, & policies), is closer to the UBP than the OG PLP.”

Opposition senator Douglas DeCouto also tweeted a recording of Mr Hayward’s speech under the comment: “Jason Hayward doesn’t want your vote.”

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Published March 07, 2023 at 1:36 pm (Updated March 07, 2023 at 1:36 pm)

Hayward faces backlash after ‘I don’t want your vote’ speech

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