FRIDAY, OCTOBER 21: PLP Premier Paula Cox made a clear appeal for the youth vote as she laid down the battle lines for the next general election.

In a keynote address to the party faithful Ms Cox — backed by her entire Parliamentary team — told the audience the ruling PLP was at “a defining moment” in its history.

And, in a clear bid to win the youth vote, she said: “Young people must know what we stand for. We doubt ourselves, but our young people are clear.

“Many are prepared to take a leap of faith and to give this country their vote of confidence. We must not have the unwelcome mat for our young people.”

Ms Cox said that the party would “revitalize” the National Youth Council – and take careful note of their views.

She also signalled that jobs, economic security, education, health and creating a more equitable society would be the party’s rallying calls.

She added: “Our children are growing up in this new global economy. They need to be prepared. If we intend them to succeed, then action is needed to ensure they have a viable future with education, skills, training and opportunities.

“The future is full of potential. However, we are working not just to enable them to have material success but also a fairer community.

“Economic empowerment of young Bermudians is not only vital and necessary, but the lack of it is the root cause of most of the violence, hopelessness, disrespect and social deterioration seen so often in the community today.

“That is why the Government is revitalizing our National Youth Council. We intend to hear live and direct from our youth – they will provide input into our policies.”

The appeal ties in with an easing out of the party old guard in the constituency primary progress to make way for fresh faces as the PLP gears up for a General Election.

Ms Cox, speaking at a PLP rally on Monday night, added: “This economic downturn is more than a blip, but we can’t have a pity party as much as we might like to.”

And she said: “When times change, Government priorities, policies and programmes also change – but the work of compassion continues.

“While it’s clearly correct we can’t solve problems by throwing money at them, it’s also true the people need to feel us and know they are loved.”

She added: “We have always been the party of hope, social equity and economic justice.”

Ms Cox said that Government could not solve every problem on its own.

And she warned: “We must surrender some small pieces of our individual interests so we can build a platform we can all stand on.” But she added: “Bermuda is not about survival of the fittest — while we know Government can’t do everything, we cannot just take care of the strong. We believe in an equal playing field.”

Ms Cox said: “The demand from our people is not for smaller Government or bigger Government, but that we continue to be the best Government.

“The commitment I seek is to old values that never wear out.”

Ms Cox said that the PLP was committed to high-quality education in schools and the Bermuda College, affordable healthcare for all and good services for seniors.

She added: Now is the time to use the Price Commission as an effective tool to help Bermuda’s people find ways to make the cost of living more affordable.”

She added that the party was determined to boost international business and tourism – and said Transport Minister Terry Lister would soon be announcing a new airline coming to Bermuda.

Ms Cox told the party faithful: “Let’s offer new hope for a stable economy, let’s resolve that the state of a family’s health never depends on the size of a family’s budget.”

She said that every Bermudian has to play their part, from making businesses more efficient to taking more responsibility for children’s welfare.

And Ms Cox added that Bermuda should “never be a killing field” and praised National Security Minister Wayne Perinchief’s drive to seek out the best methods to tackle guns and gang violence.

She told a crowd of around 500 at the Elliot Primary School playing field that payroll tax breaks and hikes in duty on imports were about encouraging people to spend more money on the island and keep people in jobs.