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October 2022: Burt fends off Dickinson leadership challenge

Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister, and David Burt, the Premier, shake hands after Mr Burt defeated Mr Dickinson for the leadership of the Progressive Labour Party at the party’s annual conference at St Paul AME Centennial Hall. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

There was no October surprise for David Burt as he handily fended off a challenge for the leadership of the Progressive Labour Party by Curtis Dickinson, the former finance minister.

Mr Burt, the Premier, and Walter Roban, the Deputy Premier, were challenged for their party posts by Mr Dickinson and Rene Ming, the former national security minister. If successful, the two former ministers would have become Premier and Deputy Premier.

Mr Dickinson officially declared his plans in September to challenge Mr Burt at the annual delegates conference and Ms Ming made her announcement a few days later.

Shortly after the former minister made the announcement, a spokesman for the Premier wrote: “David Burt has worked his way up and strengthened the party at all levels.

“While we welcome any MP who wishes to stand for leadership, as this shows that democracy is alive and well within the party, we are confident that the delegates will look at the options and decide that in these times, we need tested and steady hands at the helm of the PLP.”

The first debate between the two men was scheduled for October 8, but was cancelled due to a “logistical error.” The party did not go into any further detail as to what that error was.

Mr Dickinson later revealed that he had withdrawn from the first debate due to concern over how he and Ms Ming’s bids for the party’s top spots had been handled by executives.

Ms Ming and Mr Roban went head to head at CedarBridge Academy on October 12. The debate itself was closed to any media, but attendants said that it was “businesslike”, with Ms Ming suggesting that the party should have more of a bottom-up structure instead of a top-down one.

The debate between Mr Burt and Mr Dickinson, held on October 15, was also closed to the media, but The Royal Gazette received an audio recording of some of it.

The Premier said during the debate: “A vote for me is a vote for a leader who is not just comfortable in the boardrooms of Pitt’s Bay Road and not just comfortable in Washington, DC and the Capitol Building … but a leader who is comfortable at Devonshire Recreation Club and Somerset Cricket Club.”

Mr Dickinson said: “The party leader is fighting to keep his job. I’m fighting to build Bermuda.”

Before delegates voted on October 20, Mr Dickinson released a video that has since been removed from YouTube.

In it, he highlighted that the country was at the crossroads of history, faced with the choice to stay on the current path or decide to save the party and vote for him.

He said: “After five years of dictating his desires, the party leader is now fighting to save his job and seems willing to do and say anything to keep it.

“Our future isn’t going to be built on the wisdom and experience of one person, but our future will be built on the collective power and wisdom of all of us.”

Bahamian Prime Minister Philip “Brave“ Davis spoke at the conference’s opening night on October 19 and said that Bermuda has nothing to fear from going independent.

Mr Davis said: “There are some mental and sociological issues that can arise when one is not free. Colonisation can also have various subtle, intangible impacts on one's psyche that no doubt inhibits the full potential of people who find themselves in that situation.”

At the conference, the Premier beat Mr Dickinson by 97 votes to 56 and the deputy Premier defeated Ms Ming 96 votes to 55.

Mr Burt’s win faced some opposition, with some people on social media calling for a march at the House of Assembly to protest the results.

Mr Dickinson condemned the planned protest and made it clear that he had nothing to do with its organisation.

Lawyer and activist Larry Scott was behind the proposed demonstration but later withdrew his support. As a result, the protest was cancelled.

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Published January 01, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated December 30, 2022 at 12:25 pm)

October 2022: Burt fends off Dickinson leadership challenge

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