After the turbulence of the previous administration, our new Premier Paula Cox now has the job of pulling the diverging segments of the country and her party back together.

Her first public move, the selection of her Cabinet, gives some early insight as to what we can expect from her administration: a few surprises, some laudable picks, a few disappointments.

Given the forces at play, within the PLP and without, Premier Cox has performed a balancing act: old with the new, bold with the timid, loyalty with merit. While loyalty seems to be the most common thread, there are also a couple of bright sparks.

The biggest surprise and most laudable pick was Dame Jennifer Smith as Minister of Education. When Dame Jennifer first led the PLP to victory in 1998, she kept the Education portfolio in addition to being Premier.

She was swift to begin a reform of education, starting as I recall with education-focused specifics like smaller class size as well as a broader campaigning for children’s rights and greater community literacy. What she will need now is steely resolve to make hard decisions about the Ministry personnel.

I hope she will see the wisdom of having a library in every public school and a National Library we can be proud of — starting with a building.

Premier Cox’s wholesale renaming and redistributing of the Ministries and departments of government is also a surprise move and a worrying one to my mind. On one hand, the shakeup may be intended to break up the fiefdoms that can build within the Civil Service, but it can also interrupt the flow of government services, adding to the overall uncertainty of the times.

Premier Cox appears to be consolidating control of capital projects under her retained Finance Ministry. This may be a good move, enabling her to have full responsibility for the government’s finances. It will also require full accountability, something she has not exhibited these past several years of unprecedented growth in the public debt.

And while no one wants to taint her Premiership with the suspicion that surrounded her predecessor, the whiff of wrongdoing that swirled around the fiscal aspect of several capital projects during her tenure as Finance Minister inspires and requires close and cautious scrutiny.

The adage linking power and consolidated power to corruption cannot be ignored, and only with thorough and open investigation will that cloud be dispelled.

Let’s face it, just about every PLP MP has been in Cabinet at one time or another, so they are mostly known from their histories. We will have to wait and see whether Premier Cox can encourage and make use of their good traits while reining in the bad ones.

Of the Premier’s Senate picks I’m not sure which is the biggest surprise, Cromwell Shakir or Laverne Furbert. The latter is known by her writing and talk show rants as a voice often laced with spite and hinting at threats to any foreigner who criticises the PLP. I can only assume her selection was based on her sycophantic loyalty and behind-the-scenes manoeuvrings.

Senator Shakir is one of the most balanced voices on the local airwaves. He has managed to walk a fine line. As a leader in Bermuda’s Muslim community and a proponent of black empowerment, it would be easy for him to have been stridently divisive. For the most part, however, he has avoided taking a belligerent stance on the issues of religion and race. I see in him the greatest potential for statesmanship on the PLP benches.

Premier Cox has selected her horses. Now we must wait to see how she holds and handles the reins. I’m sure we all wish her the best.