So, tonight we will have the election of the new Leader of the PLP, and, by extension, the Premier of Bermuda. I initially set out to analyse each of the three candidates and their campaigns. Unfortunately I only completed the initial look at Dale Butler and didn’t get beyond drafts for Paula Cox and Terry Lister before I got bogged down with studies and work. I still intend to finish those reviews, although they will be more of a retrospective by the time I get to them. They will serve more as an educational exercise for me.
In short though, my analysis of the three candidates and their elections are:
Dale Butler’s campaign is not for the Leadership but for the Deputy Leadership or, more realistically, a prominent Cabinet position. His campaign was thus focused on raising his profile and highlighting issues which he feels need addressed; and would be his preferred Ministerial responsibilities. I know a lot of people are hoping he’ll become Deputy Leader, but personally I think he would be better off back as Minister for Social Rehabilitation and/or Cultural Affairs.
Terry Lister’s campaign is not for the Leader at this time but for the next contest. In this contest he is aiming for the Deputy Leadership. His focus has been on raising his profile and contributing to the discourse with a view to the long-term, of establishing himself as the next next Leader.
Paula Cox has approached the contest with the need to not repudiate the last four years (which she cannot do without repudiating herself), but to subtly shift to a new approach while ensuring a safe pair of hands during these uncertain times. She is almost certain to be the new Leader, but the Mr. Lister’s and Mr. Butler’s campaigns reduce the view of the contest as a coronation and will bring her more legitimacy.
Of the three I personally would vote for Ms. Cox as Leader and Mr. Lister as Deputy. I am wary of some of Mr. Lister’s views on the economy and social issues. I do think he should be credited with bringing some thought-provoking ideas to the contest, as well as some well-thought out policies. I may not like all of his positions, but I like several of them, and it would be a shame if they were ignored should he fail to become Leader. I personally think Ms. Cox would seek to incorporate many of Mr. Lister’s policies and will seek to avoid alienating him or Mr. Butler.
Of course, it is possible that Mr. Lister or even (but less likely) Mr. Butler will emerge as Leader. It is also possible that Mr. Butler or someone else will become Deputy. Only Mr. Horton and Mr. Burgess have so far been officially mooted as being interested in the Deputy position. I like both of them, but at this time I do not think they would be the best possible Deputy Leaders.
I am also curious what the new Senate will be. Marc Bean is likely to not be reappointed as he is almost certain to be elected to the House of the Assembly in the next month. He would be best focusing on his election campaign right now as a result. I feel that Thaao Dill is likely to cease being a Senator for the time-being. I am unsure about Lt. Col. Burch. I am leaning towards him retiring from formal politics now, but I could be wrong. I do think Walton Brown and Kim Wilson will remain in the Senate though.
As such, I think there will be at least two, possibly three, vacancies in the Senate. While there are some high-quality potential candidates I am loathe to mention anyones names who have not so far been publicly linked with the PLP, and some who I see as the next generation of the PLP are not quite available at this moment. Of the names I think may be appointed though there would be Wendell Hollis, Marc Daniels, Charles Richardson and Larry Mussenden. David Burt and Anthony Santucci are also possibilities, as are Leroy Bean and John Gibbons, both of whom will be valuable additions.
Predictions are hardly ever completely right though. Due to the time difference between Bermuda and Scotland I will not be staying up to find out who the new Leader is in real time. When I wake tomorrow I will be interested to see how good my predictions will be (although the Senate will not be immediately appointed, and a Cabinet shuffle is almost definite).