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Jarion Richardson vows to govern by trust as new Opposition leader

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Jarion Richardson speaks after being appointed Leader of the Opposition at Government House (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The island “can no longer afford the politics of personal ambition and the settling of old scores”, the new Leader of the Opposition, Jarion Richardson, announced after he was sworn in yesterday by Rena Lalgie, the Governor.

In a speech that decried cynicism, Mr Richardson said he was “very concerned”, like his predecessor Cole Simons, “about the state of leadership and politics in Bermuda”.

He thanked Mr Simons, who announced this week that he was retiring from politics, for 25 years of service, calling him “steady, reliable and principled”.

“Historians will acknowledge that Cole’s character was what Bermuda needed, when we needed it.”

Jarion Richardson is appointed Opposition leader by Rena Lalgie, the Governor (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Richardson went on to criticise the combative style of the island’s politics and said the people had been fed a narrative of division.

“There’s a saying that a fish rots from the head. I think the state of politics explains our current situation as much as anything else.

“My former colleagues in uniform, I know, would agree with me that leadership is crucial to performance.

“Bermuda’s politics are now solely about ideologies and identity. We have reached a sorry state where people seem to believe that one side holds dominion of the truth so the other must be intentionally malevolent, mislead or irrelevant — and the state of our country shows us how well this approach is working out.”

Mr Richardson insisted that “at no point in my life did I ever aspire to become Opposition leader” but pointed to his service in the Royal Bermuda Regiment and the risks taken by officers in the police force.

“A cynic cannot do that,” he added.

He referenced his work as a reporter and the “higher set of principles that govern the actions of journalists”, telling the ceremony at Government House that “when it was my turn to tell those stories, I did so fairly, objectively and accurately”.

“A cynic cannot do that.”

Jarion Richardson appointed Opposition leader at Government House (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Mr Richardson continued: “Some people seem to think its OK for our politics to be manipulative, dishonest and corrupt. I think that is just wrong.

“Tomorrow is about hope — not a fairy dream but a clear vision that the things we do today make our lives and the lives of those we love better.”

Mr Richardson referred to the friendly rivalry of Cup Match as the best of Bermuda.

“We don’t say the other side is malevolent, mislead or irrelevant. That would be absurd.

“We could use more of that in politics, which is supposed to be our community’s highest form of problem solving. Politics can solve community issues, yet today’s politics seem to create them.”

While disavowing infighting, Mr Richardson said the One Bermuda Alliance was “engaged in a fight for the future of our country — it’s just not a fight with each other”.

He listed challenges confronting the island, such as the recently announced international corporate tax, lagging tourism and debt.

“Meanwhile, we have no idea the actual number of people who have left Bermuda while debating the number of people we’ll let in,” he said.

“We’ve been fed for some 20-plus years a diet of division, dissension and disregard. Told, and retold, that we are victims of fate and that our fortune has been taken from us, that we are victims of other people’s actions. Blame is not a solution.”

Mr Richardson vowed the OBA was “not going to be in anybody’s pocket and we’re not going to let anyone be in ours”.

He said the party would hold “everyone accountable, starting with ourselves” and said it would respond to the demands of the electorate.

• To read the Opposition Leader’s speech in full, see “Related Media”

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Published August 11, 2023 at 7:57 am (Updated August 11, 2023 at 7:57 am)

Jarion Richardson vows to govern by trust as new Opposition leader

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