A Brief History of the Bermuda Progressive
Bermuda’s oldest political party, the
Bermuda Progressive Labour Party, founded
in 1963, has in the relatively short
span of thirty-four years grown into
one of the two major political forces
in this mid-Atlantic country.
The first PLP Platform, adapted in 1963,
called for equitable taxation, the removal
of racial discrimination, greater economic
parity, the implementation of programmes
for healthcare, insurance and pensions.
In addition, it called for better housing,
improved educational opportunities and
When the PLP was formed,
Bermuda was still suffering from centuries
of race-oriented policies and an oligarchal
Government. It was a veritable feudal
system, with only land-owners having
the right to vote (they retained an
extra or “plus” vote until the late
1960s, even after the right to vote
at the age of twenty-five years was
achieved). Additionally, racial discrimination
was widely practised in the churches
and the school system and the employment
The Progressive Labour
Party contested its first General Election
just three months after its formation,
in February 1963. The Party contested
nine of the then thirty-six Parliamentary
seats. The PLP’s first successful Members
of Colonial Parliament (MCPs) were:
Mr. Arnold A. Francis (Party Leader),
Mr. Walter N. H. Robinson (Deputy Leader),
Mrs. Lois Browne-Evans (Bermuda’s first
black elected woman Member of Parliament)
Mr. Russell Dismont, Mr. Cecil Clarke
and Mrs. Dorothy Thompson.
Bermuda was electrified
to learn that this bold new Party had
won Parliamentary seats for six of the
nine candidates it had endorsed. Only
one of those six successful candidates
still sits in Parliament today; former
PLP Leader and Opposition Leader, Mrs.
Lois Browne-Evans, J.P., M.P.
Six out a total of
36 House of Assembly seats may seem
a modest accomplishment by contemporary
standards, but in the following year
(1964), worried conservative Members
of Parliament formed their own political
party. They did this during the summer
recess of Parliament, in spite of the
fact they had campaigned against political
parties in 1963. Thus the United Bermuda
Party was formed with the sanction of
then Governor, Lord Martonmere; who
dismissed a formal application from
the PLP to dissolve Parliament and hold
The Progressive Labour
Party faced up to a conflicting political
identity crisis among some of its M.P.s
in the summer of 1965. A split occurred,
due to disagreement over how aggressively
the PLP should campaign for true equity
in Bermuda; and as the Party struggled
to maintain its original principles,
all but one of its Members of Parliament
(Mrs. Lois Browne-Evans) resigned from
However, in 1966, two
members, Mr. Walter Robinson and Mrs.
Dorothy Thompson, returned, and Mr.
Robinson became the Progressive Labour
Party’s second Party Leader.
Pressure for political
reform led to the Bermuda Constitutional
Conference in 1966, held in London,
and to which the PLP sent a delegation
of its three Parliamentarians and two
observers. The Progressive Labour Party
with the able assistance of their legal
advisor, the late Mr. Geoffrey Bing,
Q.C. fought valiantly around the conference
table and gained a measure of success
with the abolition of the “plus” vote
and more seats for Pembroke. But the
PLP delegates refused to sign the majority
report which enshrined many basic iniquities
in the Bermuda Constitution: like the
foreign resident, non-Bermudian vote,
and restrictive terms of reference for
drawing electoral constituency boundaries;
which had been introduced in the 1960s
to frustrate the popular will of the
indigenous Bermudian people.
The PLP delegation
were unsuccessful in their campaign
for an electoral system of “one man
– one vote”. Bermuda’s first Constitution
restructured the voting districts into
dual seat constituencies and increased
the number of seats in Parliament to
forty to offset the gains of four seats
in Pembroke Parish. While this new constitution
also lowered the voting age to 21-years
(prior to this it was 25) and removed
the landowners “plus” vote; it retained
the foreign vote and allowed the gerrymandering
In 1967, the PLP moved
to its current National Headquarters
in Alaska Hall on Court Street in Hamilton.
This move was made possible by a generous
donation to the Party from member Mr.
George Haaslacher. An American who had
supported the Party when he worked in
Bermuda, when Mr. Haaslacher was leaving
Bermuda he turned over his shares in
the Kirkland Company Limited (the forerunner
of the Bermuda National Bank).
In 1968, the first
General Election to be called under
the new Constitutional saw the Progressive
Labour Party contest all twenty constituencies
. . . a major accomplishment after just
five years of existence.
The PLP won ten seats
in this election; unfortunately, the
Party’s Parliamentary Leader, Mr. Walter
Robinson, was defeated in his marginal
constituency of Hamilton West, leaving
the Party to elect a new Parliamentary
Leader. Mrs. Lois Browne-Evans became
the Party’s Third Leader , and gained
the distinction and world-wide recognition
as the first woman Opposition Leader
in the Commonwealth. Mr. Walter Roberts,
a former independent Member of Parliament
and now elected as a PLP MP became the
new Deputy Leader.
In the General Election, of 1972, the
PLP increased its share of the popular
vote from 33 per cent to 38 per cent.
The Party again contested every constituency.
With the successful re-election of Walter
Robinson, Lois Browne-Evans yielded
the leadership of the Party back to
him. The Party retained ten seats in
In April 1976, Mr. Robinson retired
from active politics later becoming
a Puisne Judge, and Mrs. Browne-Evans
became the Parliamentary Leader of the
PLP for the second time and also the
Opposition Leader once again. Economist
and lawyer, L. Frederick Wade, became
the Deputy Leader of the PLP. The General
Election of 1976, saw the PLP increase
its Members of Parliament to fifteen
and its share of the popular vote from
38% to 44.6%.
That year the PLP had
its most spectacular breakthrough up
to that time, for it increased its House
seats by nearly 50 per cent, that is
from 10 seats to 14 seats in the 40
seat House of Assembly.
During this period
the PLP increased its share of the popular
vote, it rose from 33 per cent in 1968,
to 38 per cent in 1972, and then 44.6
per cent in 1976.
The Progressive Labour
Party has favoured Independence for
Bermuda since its inception, and in
1977 launched an Independence Action
Plan, which fostered public debates,
television programmes and public meetings.
Other Progressive Labour
Party prominent activities during this
time were an active role in the campaign
against capital punishment in Bermuda
(Both in its own right and as a member
organisation of the National Committee
Against Capital Punishment); a vigorous
campaign against Government proposals
to introduce new restrictions which
would have hampered voter registration
(Parliamentary Election Reform Act of
1978); and participation in and membership
on the Royal Commission appointed to
investigate the causes leading to the
riots of December 1977, which followed
the first executions held in Bermuda
in a third of a century (i.e. thirty
The Royal Commission
report indicated that the frustration
of Bermudians’ political will, as well
as socioeconomic discrimination, had
largely contributed towards the 1977
riots. There had been three other riots
in the previous twelve years, one of
which, like the 1977 disturbances, resulted
in the dispatching of British troops
Between 1976 and 1980,
the PLP had mixed political fortunes.
It lost a seat in Parliament when Hamilton
West member, Paul de la Chevotiere,
crossed the floor of the House of Assembly
to become a member of the UBP; and the
Party gained a seat when C. Eugene Cox
won a seat in Sandys North Bye-Election.
At the Constitutional
Conference of 1979, held in Bermuda
at Warwick Camp, the PLP delegation
argued strenuously once again for the
introduction of a system, that would
give each man one vote, each vote of
equal value. No agreement could be reached
on the adoption of a new, more equitable
electoral system; at its conclusion,
it was decided that whichever party
actually campaigned in the next general
election or any general election on
its preferred electoral system, and
won a majority of both the Parliamentary
seats and the popular vote in that election
– then that Party would be granted permission
by the U.K. Government to amend the
Bermuda Constitution of 1968 accordingly;
and thus introduce its preferred system.
Amongst the gains of
the PLP at that conference a new system
of compulsory voter registration; and
an additional seat for appointment by
the Opposition Leader in the Legislative
Council or as it was called the “Upper
House”. The Legislative Council’s composition
was changed and it was renamed “The
Senate” and the number of foreign voters
able to vote in an election in Bermuda
was cut in half by what is called the
Lord Carrington formula.
Thus the scene was
set for the 1980 Bermuda General Election.
An Election which saw the largest number
of registered voters (ever registered)
to vote in a Bermuda Election – over
24,000 of the 31,000 eligible persons
– the registration number in itself
a record, due to the advent of compulsory
The Party ran forty
candidates and won eighteen seats and
46% of the votes cast. . . just three
short of the number needed for victory.
The Party used its
increased appointment to the Senate
to give young candidates exposure.
In 1983, the Party had to fight a snap
General Election. Once again, the Party
ran forty candidates contesting every
seat. The PLP lost four seats
in this election, gaining only 43.4%
of the votes cast .
In keeping with the Party’s revised
Constitution, a special Delegates Conference
to elect a Leader was called within
72 hours of the Election. Charging that
the losses were directly attributable
to Mrs. Brown-Evans’ leadership, Mr.
Gilbert Darrell again contested for
the position of Leader. Mrs. Browne-Evans
defeated his bid, this time with a vote
of 43 to 17.
By 1985, Members of Parliament supportive
of Mr. Darrell’s attempts to oust the
Party’s Leader had taken their fight
from within the Party to the news media,
resulting in much dismay and disaffection
amongst the Party’s members and supporters.
To hear both sides to the dispute the
Party in accordance with its constitution
set up a Disciplinary Committee. The
Members were charged with “bringing
the Party into disrepute”. In the end
four Members of Parliament: Gilbert
Darrell, Austin Thomas, Lionel Simmons
and Walter Brangman; as well as former
M.P., Calvin Smith and former candidate,
Roger Russell were expelled from the
Party. The four M.P.’s formed a third
Party, the National Liberal Party, under
the leadership of Mr. Gilbert Darrell,
and remained in the House. Former M.P.’s
Calvin Smith and Lionel Simmons later
returned to the PLP.
Another snap General Election was called
by then Premier Sir John Swan in November
1985. A small, but determined, PLP contested
eighteen of the twenty constituencies,
offering 30 candidates. The split had
affected the electorate and this was
reflected in the Party’s further loss
of seven seats and only 31% of the votes
At the special Delegates Conference,
convened 72 hours after this election,
Deputy Leader, Mr. L. Frederick Wade
became the PLP's fourth Party Leader
with Mr. Walter Roberts as the new Deputy
Party Leader, L. Frederick
Wade, committed the Party to a period
of rebuilding, which included restoring
the historic Alaska Hall Headquarters.
In 1988, the Party moved out of the
building to allow renovations to be
carried our under the scrutiny of M.P.
Reginald Burrows and Architect and Hamilton
Parish Branch Chairman, Charles Daniels.
This period was spent rejuvenating the
PLP and healing the wounds created during
the period of division.
A rejuvenated PLP was
ready for the General Election of 1989.
The Party contested all twenty constituencies
and regained eight seats to increase
the number of PLP representatives to
fifteen and an increase to 37% of the
The Party’s successful
candidates included former MP's and
a number of young, new representatives.
The Party also achieved a new seat –
that of St. George’s North.
At the Special Delegates
Conference called following this election,
Mr. L. Frederick Wade and Mr. Walter
Roberts were returned unopposed as Leader
and Deputy Leader respectively. The
process of rebuilding continued with
the Party regaining the confidence of
its supporters and building new bridges
with the electorate. Party Leader, L.
Frederick Wade also began making inroads
with the business community.
In the continued effort
to rebuild confidence in the Party,
the 1990 Party Conference saw the Executive
of the party, once again filled by lay
members of the Party.
When the Premier, Sir
John Swan, called a General Election
for October 1993, Party Leader L. Frederick
Wade led a well prepared PLP to the
polls. The Party contested all twenty
constituencies and gained three seats
to increase the number of PLP representatives
In this election the
Party once again approached the threshold
of victory with 46.7 % of the votes
cast. The PLP was out of the wilderness.
A year later at the
Party’s 1994 Annual Delegates Conference,
there was a change in the second-in-command.
Ms. Jennifer Smith contested Mr. Walter
Roberts for the position of Deputy Leader
and was elected.
In August of 1996,
after a period of illness that saw Deputy
Leader Jennifer Smith assume the role
of Acting Leader from 3rd, April, Mr.
L. Frederick Wade suddenly passed away.
The Party’s constitution called for
a new leader to be elected at a Special
Delegates Conference one week following
the untimely death and Ms. Jennifer
Smith was the victor in a three-way
race, against Mr. C. Eugene Cox and
Mr. W. Alexander Scott. Mr. Scott was
elected Deputy Leader. After eleven
years under the leadership of Mr. L.
Frederick Wade, the party had a new
leader - the fifth.
Since the, election
of officers takes place biennially,
in accordance with the Party’s Constitution,
another leadership vote was held in
November. Pleased with Ms. Smith’s leadership
skills, the delegates, re-elected her
2-1 over a challenge from Mr. Alex Scott.
Senior statesman, Mr. C. Eugene Cox,
was elected Deputy Leader.
Ms. Smith immediately
set about establishing her mandate for
the Party with an agenda to get the
organisation ready for the next General
Election, due to be held no later than
Under her leadership the Party has continued
working to rebuild and strengthen the
party apparatus. In addition, the PLP
has entered into an aggresive fundraisng
campaign, expanding its appeal to not
only traditional supporters but also
the business sector. The interaction
with the business community, started
under L.F. Wade has continued - raising
the Party’s credentials as a future
government that will work to ensure
a sound business environment.
The heightened activity
has also been reflected at the rank-and-file
level, with a steady increase in active
membership in the Party.
In October 1996, a bye election was
held in the Devonshire North constituency
left vacant by the death of L. F. Wade.
Ms. Paula Cox staved off challenges
from five other hopefuls to be chosen
as the Party’s candidate for the Devonshire
North Bye-Election. Ms. Cox gave a strong
showing at the polls on polling day
capturing 71% of the votes cast, easily
out pacing her UBP and NLP opponents
in the PLP stronghold.
In May, 1997, the Party faced yet another
Devonshire Bye-election - this time
in Devonshire South due to the resignation
of then Premier, David Saul. Mr. Dennis
(Danny) Pavao Farias, a fisherman and
well-known environmental activist, was
the PLP candidate. He had previously
represented the Party in the 1993 General
Election. Mr. Farias made a respectable
showing claiming 260 votes, 22.2% of
the votes cast.
On that same day the Party also faced
a Bye-election in the traditional UBP
stronghold of Paget East (once coined
‘the Lion's Den'), following the resignation
of former Premier John Swan. The PLP
chose Mr. Craig Walls, a financial analyst,
to put forth the party message in this
constituency. As expected, he did not
gain the favour of the conservative
voters of Paget East, garnering only
Another electoral opportunity came in
September 1997 with yet another bye-election.
This one, resulting from the resignation
of UBP MP Dr. David Dyer. Mr. Rodney
Smith, entrepreneur and developer, stepped
forward as a fresh new face for the
Party on the electoral trail in the
UBP stronghold of Pembroke West. Mr.
Smith and the campaign team moved quickly
to ensure the PLP message was heard.
The Polling Day result sent a clear
message as to the potential fortunes
of the Party, with Rodney Smith gaining
382 votes, 37% of the votes cast. This
was an impressive showing for a PLP
candidate in a safe UBP district. The
swing of 17% towards the PLP candidate
was seen as indicative of the growing
interest and popularity of the Party
and its message.
The momentum building towards the general
election continued. In March 1998, the
Party began announcing its candidates
for the 1998 General Election. The candidate
announcements continued for two-week
intervals until the entire contingent
was made public. The candidates were:
C Eugene Cox, Terry
Lister – Sandys South; Walter Lister,
Dennis Lister – Sandys North; Michael
Scott -Southampton West; Reginald Burrows,
Stanley Lowe - Southampton East; Dr.
Ewart Brown, Elvin James - Warwick West;
W. Alex Scott, Dale Butler – Warwick
East; L. Milton Scott - Paget East;
George Scott - Paget West; Lois Browne-Evans,
Paula Cox - Devonshire North; Danny
Farias – Devonshire South; Patrice Parris
– Smith’s North; David Burch – Smith’s
South; Renee Webbe, Derrick Burgess
– Hamilton East; Randy Horton, Arthur
Hodgson – Hamilton West; Carvel Van
Putten - Pembroke West; Neletha Butterfield,
Wayne Perinchief – Pembroke West Central;
Ottiwell Simmons, Nelson Bascome – Pembroke
East; Stanley Morton, David Allen –
Pembroke East Central; Jennifer Smith,
Delaey Robinson – St. George’s North;
Wilbur Lowe, Arthur Pitcher – St. George’s
At the conclusion of
the candidate announcements in July
1998 the PLP team spread out throughout
the island canvassing voters and articulating
the Party’s the message.
In August 1998, the Party’s well laid
plans received a set-back with the sudden
death of Leon C. (Jimmy) Williams, MP
for St. George’s North, who was also
the Party Leader’s running mate and
close personal friend. This left the
Party looking for a replacement candidate
for the Leader’s constituency three
months before the General Election had
to be called. The need was for someone
who could “hit the ground running” while
the Leader was preoccupied with the
national campaign. The choice was a
St. Georgian of impeccable credentials,
Delaey Robinson, the son of labour activist
and guesthouse owner, Trew Robinson
and former House of Assembly candidate
and Secretary to the Corporation of
St. George’s, Ernest Robinson. In addition,
his brother Cecil Clarke was one of
the original 1963 successful PLP candidates
in the House of Assembly.
On 20 October 1998, United Bermuda Party
Premier Pamela Gordon, finally put an
end to the speculation and waiting and
announced the date of the much-anticipated
General Election. That date will be
forever etched in history, November
Now the official campaign began in earnest
for the PLP. In keeping with the feeling
of excitement in the community – that
victory was at hand – the phrase ‘Date
with Destiny’ was coined for use whenever
the date of November 9, 1998 was used.
In a move that added drama to the anticipation,
the PLP Platform was unveiled at the
Party’s Annual Conference Banquet, titled,
‘A New Bermuda’on 31 October 1998. For
the first time in the Party’s history,
the cover featured a photograph of Party
Leader, Jennifer M. Smith strategically
placed in front of the Bermuda Flag.
Key objectives highlighted
in the platform included; Empowerment
as a key development strategy; An investor
friendly policy environment; Fiscal
discipline in all matters of Revenue
Management; Accountability and Transparency
in all areas of governance; Investment
in people as well as physical infrastructure;
Protection of the vulnerable in society;
preservation of the family; Protection
of the natural environment; and Inclusion
of all in a fully participatory democracy.
On November 9, 1998 in stark contrast
to the daily newspaper headline predicting
defeat once again, the PLP received
the people’s mandate to take the reins
of Government in the first change of
government in Bermuda’s history. When
all the ballots had been counted the
party had won 26 seats and 54.3 % of
His Excellency the
Governor Thorold Masefield invited Party
Leader Jennifer Smith to form the Government
and she was sworn in as Premier of Bermuda
at Government House on November 10,
1998, the day after the election. That
afternoon, the first PLP Cabinet was
sworn in, with the following members
C. Eugene Cox,
Minister of Finance
Dame Lois M.
Browne-Evans, Attorney General
& Minister of Legislative Affairs
W. Alex Scott,
Minister of Works & Engineering
Minster of Health & Social Services
Minister of Development, Opportunity
& Government Services
Minister of the Environment
Minister of Youth & Sport
Dr. Ewart F.
Brown, Minister of Transport
M. D Renee Webb,
Minister of Telecommunications
David J. Allen,
Minister of Tourism
Paula A. Cox,
Minister of Labour, Home Affairs
& Public Safety
Scott, Minister without Portfolio
and Leader in the Senate
Smith, Premier & Minister
The Party having achieved
the goal of the founding fathers and
reached the pinnacle of electoral success
set about the mission of building ‘A
New Bermuda’. Immediately, the government
quickly moved the make substantive changes
in key areas. Some of these were; amendment
to the Election Act eliminating annual
voter registration; the introduction
of the political office of Attorney
General which required the establishment
of Office of Director of Public Prosecutions
(DPP) as the chief law officer responsible
for Crown prosecutions. Another welcomed
change was the re-introduction of bi-
weekly garbage collection.
The months following
the Party’s victory did not halt the
change over the political scene. Electorally
the political landscape continued to
be active. The sudden and untimely death
of the UBP member for Paget West, Ms.
Madeline Joell caused the first of what
would become a series of bye-elections.
Held in March 1999, the PLP fielded
candidate George Scott, who had represented
the Party in the 1998 General Election.
Scott captured 399 votes, a higher percentage
of the vote from the previous contest.
In early 1999 Premier
Smith released herself from the position
of Minister of Education and the ministerial
appointment went to trade unionist,
veteran teacher and Government Senate
Leader L. Milton Scott.
On August 18, 2000,
Premier Jennifer Smith tabled a paper,
proposing constitutional amendments,
including the establishment of single-seat
constituencies.’ This was in keeping
with a PLP platform initiative to ensuring
that Bermuda’s democracy enshrined the
principle of “one person, one vote;
each vote of equal value”. This goal
had been consistently stated from the
establishment of the PLP in 1963 under
the objective of constitutional reform.
In November 2000, the
Party Leader faced a challenge to her
leadership by Environment Minister Arthur
Hodgson. The Party Leader defeated Mr.
Hodgson by a vote of 2 to 1. As a result
of his challenge to the leadership,
Mr. Hodgson was removed from the position
of Minister for the Environment. The
Environment portfolio was passed to
Minister Terry Lister.
In June 2001 veteran
UBP MP C. V. ‘Jim’ Woolridge retired
from Parliament, vacating the Smith’s
South constituency seat and a bye-election
was scheduled for 17 July 2001.
The party chose Senator
David Burch, who had represented the
PLP in this constituency in the General
Election, as the Bye Election candidate.
The PLP would garner 360 votes in this
contest but the UBP managed to retain
the seat. In September 2001, Randy Horton
joined the front benches as Minister
A month later in October 2001, Senate
Leader L Milton Scott resigned from
Cabinet to pursue private interests.
Although he resigned as Senate Leader
he would stay in the Senate until November
the same year. Premier Jennifer Smith
took this opportunity and made a Cabinet
shuffle. Paula Cox was made Minister
of Education; Terry Lister was made
Minister of Labour Home Affairs and
Public Safety; Dennis Lister moved to
the Environment Ministry; and K. H.
Randy Horton, who had joined Cabinet
as a member without portfolio, became
Minister for Community Affairs and Sport.
Senator Milton Scott’s impending resignation
- also left a vacancy in the Senate
to be filled. Lawyer Victoria Pearman
was appointed to fill his seat and David
Burch was appointed as Senate Leader
and Cabinet Minister without Portfolio.
In December 2001, UBP MP Gary Pitman
resigned his seat in Parliament, requiring
a bye-election for Pembroke West that
was scheduled for 6th February 2002.
The PLP’s candidate Carvel Van Putten
had represented the Party in this constituency
in the General Election. The party fielded
a very organised campaign, but the UBP
managed to hang onto their stronghold.
The result saw the PLP gain 367 votes
about 37% of the votes cast.
The year 2002 saw the
death of a sitting Minister. The party
had to deal with the loss of a dear
colleague and friend and an integral
component of the leadership with the
death of David Henry Allen, first PLP
Minister of Tourism, in October. Yet
another bye - election was held. The
bye-election was set for November 16,
2002 and the PLP fielded a talented
young man, journalist Ashfield De Vent.
The party successfully retained its
stronghold, with Mr. De Vent becoming
the representative for Pembroke East
Central. The Premier chose the Minister
of Telecommunications M. D. Renee Webb,
to take on the additional responsibility
of Bermuda’s Tourism Minister. Minister
Webb had deftly handled the delicate
issues of Telecommunications and E-Commerce,
a new Ministry, which she had helped
to develop. Senator the Hon. Lt. Col.
David A. Burch was appointed to a new
Cabinet position of Minister of Housing
and MP Neletha Butterfield joined Cabinet
and the Minister without Portfolio.
On 11 October 2002
the House of Assembly passed the Boundaries
Commission Report which included recommendations
for 36 single seat constituencies.
On November 2002, Premier
Jennifer Smith tabled a motion in the
House of Assembly that the Government
empower a Committee to examine the Parliamentary
Election Act with a view to making recommendations
about the wider questions of the voting
franchise in Bermuda.
On 28 February 2003,
an Order-in-Council was passed at Buckingham
Palace ratifying the recommendations
of the Commission to the Governor and
the Secretary of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs. The Order would
come into effect in mid-March 2003 setting
the stage for the next General Election
to be historic, with a single seat constituency
system established in Bermuda.
The discussion paper
on the wider question of the Franchise
looking at broader questions for reform
of Bermuda’s voting system was submitted
the Parliament. The paper is consistent
with the Party’s long-standing commitment
to examine the larger question of reform
of Bermuda’s voting system.
In June 2003, further
parliamentary reform was completed,
with amendments to the Parliamentary
Election Act widening the categories
of valid identification voters could
use during an election. This would modernise
requirements and contribute to more
flexibility and ease in the voting process
On June 11, 2003 the
Premier announced that she would ask
the Governor to dissolve Parliament
in order to have a General Election
on July 24, 2003.
The party election
campaign machinery was thrown into official
operation and the slogan; ‘We have only
just begun, the Best is yet to come’
became the message.
A campaign spanning six weeks was the
longest in recent political memory and
would unravel to be the most exciting
the islands history. The election was
historic on a number of levels, as the
first time a new PLP government was
going back to the electorate for a mandate,
additionally being conducted under a
new system of single seat constituencies.
The PLP strategy was to run on the
party record of performance over the
preceeding 4 years of government. The
party projected itself as a government
that delivered on its promises to the
electorate, as outlined in the 1998
In the face of relenting anti-PLP messages
through out the media and far-fetched
schemes and promises by the Opposition,
the PLP successfully retained its mandate
with a 22-14 seat victory with a 51.4
percent majority of the popular vote.
Members and supporters were jubilant
about the PLP’s succession regaining
the confidence of the majority of the
electorate. Once again PLP supporters
were poised to celebrate a decisive
It was not long after the final results
came in that it was noticed that a number
of the successful candidates had not
arrived at Alaska Hall, PLP Headquarters
for the celebration. Later, it was revealed
that a group of eleven of the successful
candidates had contacted Party Leader
Jennifer Smith and indicated that they
were not prepared to serve the new government
under her leadership. They also demanded
the right to choose a new leader from
amongst the sitting members of the House
of Assembly. In light of the developing
situation a Delegates Conference was
convened to address the political impasse
with the eleven members.
Although the eleven did not attend
the special meeting, the delegates decided
after much discussion that members of
parliament should get together and resolve
the matter. A facilitator was chosen
and the MP’s gathered to resolve the
issues on the Saturday. The Conference
was decided to reconvene on the following
The Conference reconvened to hear a
report from the facilitator. It was
reported that the Parliamentarians chose
to put forward two names as possible
choices for Leader to the conference.
These were W. Alexander Scott and Ewart
F. Brown. These names where both put
forward for Party Leader, with the name
of Jennifer Smith also being nominated.
Subsequently, Jennifer Smith announced
her resignation as Party Leader and
endorsed the choice of W. Alexander
Scott as the new Party Leader.
Now, there were two candidates for
Party Leader, Alex Scott and Ewart Brown.
The candidates were invited to address
the membership and afterwards the conference
then accepted the name of W. Alexander
Scott with acclamation for the position
of Party Leader.
In response Mr. Scott turned to Mr.
C. Eugene Cox to ask if he would be
prepared to step aside as Deputy Leader,
however Mr. Cox informed him that already
he had taken the decision to resign
the post. The cleared the way for Mr.
Scott to make a motion that asked the
conference to support the nomination
of Dr. Ewart Brown as the new Deputy
Leader. The conference accepted Dr.
Brown name and he was announced as Deputy
On July 28, 2003 Jennifer Smith submitted
her resignation as Premier to His Excellency
W. Alexander Scott was sworn is as
Premier and moved to select a new Cabinet.
The following persons were chosen to
serve in the Cabinet of the second PLP
- Ewart F. Brown - Deputy Leader,
Minister of Transport
- Paula A. Cox - Attorney General
& Education & Development
- K. Randolph Horton - Minister of
Labour, Home Affairs & Public
- Terry Lister - Minister of Works
Engineering & Housing
- Patrice Minors - Minister of Health
& Family Services
- D. Neletha Butterfield - Minister
of the Environment
- Dale Butler - Minister of Community
Affairs & Sport
- M. D. Renee Webb - Minister of
Tourism, Telecommunications &
- C. Eugene Cox - Minister of Finance
- Ashfield DeVent - Minister without
On 30 July 2003, the New Cabinet is
sworn in at Government House. The new
Premier immediately moves to uniting
the Party and reassuring the country
in the new government. He informs the
Party faithful, Executive Committee
and Central Committee that he will take
steps to involve them more in the day
to day role of the PLP Government. He
will make them important stakeholder
in their Government. The new Premier
allows unprecedented access by the media
to himself and the new government in
an effort to cultivate fresh relationship
with the community and voters is favourably
In early September, the new PLP government
is tested with the first national crisis
in the form of hurricane Fabian. The
natural disaster devastates much of
the island but the quick and effective
response by the Government is praised
by all quarters of the community.
On 18 September, the Government Senators
Reginald Burrows, Raymond Tannock, Walter
Roban and Larry Mussenden are appointed.
Cabinet Minister Michael Scott is the
Government Leader in the Senate.
The new Parliament opens in late October,
with the election of former Premier
and Party Leader, the Hon. Jennifer
Smith as the new Deputy Speaker and
the first woman to hold the post.
Early in the New Year, tragedy comes
to the Party. Although the public was
aware of the challenges with his health,
the party and the country are saddened
by the announcement of the death of
the PLP’s first Finance Minister Hon.
Cyril Eugene Cox at the age of 75 to
cancer. He is honoured with an Official
Funeral and lies In State at Alaska
Hall. Thousands of residents pay their
respects to one of the party’s most
On 22 January, Premier Scott has his
first Cabinet shuffle. He appoints the
first female Finance Minister Hon. Paula
A Cox, daughter of the late Finance
Minister. Senator Larry becomes Attorney
General, Hon Terry Lister moves to Education
and Development and Hon. Ashfield DeVent
moves to Works & Engineering.
On 4 February, the date of bye-election
in Constituency 36, Sandys North is
announced for 4 March 2004.
After much speculation, on 10 February,
Government Leader in the Senate and
Minister, the Hon. Michael Scott is
announced as the PLP Candidate in Sandys
North Constituency 36. The announcement
of Michael Scott as the PLP candidate
requires that he both resign as Leader
of the Senate and as a Minister of the
PLP Government. In his place Premier
Scott informs the Cabinet and Parliamentary
Group that Senator Larry Mussenden will
become the Government Leader of the
In March 2004 a Bye election has as
a result of the vacancy in Constituency
36 resulted in a victory for the PLP
as Michael Scott won comfortably the
support of the West End voters, gleaning
414 votes, compared to 220 for the UBP's
Corin Smith. On hearing the poll results,
he dedicated his victory to the late
Mr. Cox. It was Michael Scott’s fifth
attempt to capture a seat into the House
He was later re-sworn as Minister for
As a result of the victory of Michael
Scott arose the need to replace a government
vacancy in the Senate. Progressive Labour
Party chairman Neville Tyrrell was sworn
in as the ruling party’s newest Senator.
Premier Alex Scott announced that Attorney
General Larry Mussenden would take over
as Government Senate Leader.
In July 2004, to the surprise of many,
Premier the Hon. W. Alexander Scott
JP, MP announced the resignation of
Minister Renee Webb from the Cabinet.
The Premier has recommends to His Excellency
the Governor that Minister Ewart Brown
takes on the responsibility of Ministry
of Tourism, giving him a dual portfolio
of Minister of Tourism Transport. Minister
Michael Scott also assumes the responsibility
for Telecommunications & E-Commerce
On August 26, 2004 Walter M. Lister,
JP, MP, a former Deputy Speaker of the
House of Assembly, was sworn in as Minister
without Portfolio by His Excellency,
the Governor, Sir John M. M. Vereker,
Last Update: November