I was a bit surprised by the news that Mr. Burgess has announced his resignation from his post as Minister of Transport and, presumably, from Cabinet also (in as much as he was Deputy Premier). It is not, however, clear at this time if he has also resigned as Deputy Premier, although the statement that he has left Cabinet would initially seem to indicate that. He can remain as Deputy Leader of the PLP without being Deputy Premier however, as one is an office of State, the other an office of the Party. Traditionally they have been the same thing, but it is not actually necessary.
While Mr. Burgess’s resignation has no doubt been resoundingly welcomed by various opponents of the PLP (not necessarily OBA members, but, on the face of it, OBA supporters) who are, it would appear, engaging in some rather disturbing glee at his apparent demise, I personally think Mr. Burgess has done the right thing.
In fact, I called for him to resign his ministerial post back in early February, when the BLDC ‘scandal’ first came to light. In that post I stated that while it is not clear at the moment that he actually was in the wrong, there was enough reasonable doubt related to his actions there that his continuing presence in the Cabinet would prove to be a distraction and a liability for the Party in this de facto election campaign. Quite frankly, he would have served as a lightning rod for criticism of the Party by the opposition (formal and informal), as well as breed rumours of internal party strife. It seems that this is exactly what has happened, and, although I think his resignation now is for the best of the Party, I think the delay between February and now may have cost the Party some political capital in a rather needless way. It would have been better to have done it quickly and cleanly then than deal with the current stench (no doubt embellished) of a punch-up between Cabinet ministers in Parliament.
I hope that this does not signal the end of Mr. Burgess’s contribution to the Party and the country. While he has his faults (as do we all), I think he also brings a wealth of experience and thought to the table, even if it is in a non-traditional sense from that expected from certain segments of the population.
It goes without saying though that there will be some speculation about possible fall-out from this, including who will succeed him in his ministry, or what this means for internal politics of the Party or the timing and tempo of the coming election.