A Brief History of the Bermuda Progressive Labour Party
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 electoral reform.

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 sector.

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 fresh elections.

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 the Party.

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 of districts.

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 Parliament.

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 five years).

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 to Bermuda.

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 voter registration.

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 cast.

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 Leader.

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 votes cast.

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 to eighteen.

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 October 1998.

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 37 votes.

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 South

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 9, 1998.

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 votes.

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 becoming Ministers:

  • C. Eugene Cox, Minister of Finance

  • Dame Lois M. Browne-Evans, Attorney General & Minister of Legislative Affairs

  • W. Alex Scott, Minister of Works & Engineering

  • Nelson Bascome, Minster of Health & Social Services

  • Terry Lister, Minister of Development, Opportunity & Government Services

  • Arthur Hodgson, Minister of the Environment

  • Dennis Lister, 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

  • Senator Milton Scott, Minister without Portfolio and Leader in the Senate

  • Jennifer M. Smith, Premier & Minister of Education

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 without Portfolio.

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 for all.

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 Election platform.

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 victory.

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 Sunday.

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 Party Leader.

On July 28, 2003 Jennifer Smith submitted her resignation as Premier to His Excellency the Governor.

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 Government.

  • Ewart F. Brown - Deputy Leader, Minister of Transport
  • Paula A. Cox - Attorney General & Education & Development
  • K. Randolph Horton - Minister of Labour, Home Affairs & Public Safety
  • 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 & E-Commerce
  • C. Eugene Cox - Minister of Finance
  • Ashfield DeVent - Minister without Portfolio

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 received.

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 respected members.

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 Senate.


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 of Assembly.
He was later re-sworn as Minister for Legislative Affairs.

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, KCB.


Last Update: November 2004


About the PLP  l  The Leadership  l  News & Events  l  Support  l  Contact Us  l  Links  l  Site Map