Defiant: Dr. Brown addressing the opening session of the PLP Conference: ‘We will not allow the media to dictate our agenda’. *Photo by Ras Mykkal
Defiant: Dr. Brown addressing the opening session of the PLP Conference: ‘We will not allow the media to dictate our agenda’. *Photo by Ras Mykkal
Premier Dr. Ewart Brown delivered a defiant party conference speech on Wednesday addressing critics of his leadership and insisting: "I'm here to stay".

The pre-conference chatter had hinted that Dr. Brown would face a challenge this week.

Speaking of the leadership issue as one of 'the elephants in the middle of this floor' Dr. Brown said he planned to stay in the job until 2010.

Addressing weeks of speculation in the newspapers, he added: "To the media who have glorified in whatever dissension they can find and create in the party with regard to my leadership, I say to you: Write what you will. This grand and venerable Progressive Labour Party will never, ever allow you to dictate our agenda or set our course.

"I will continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the Progressive Labour Party and the people of Bermuda..."

It was a phrase he had repeated on several occasions addressing first his supporters, then his detractors and insisting that he was putting the party's interests before his own.

"I was elected to serve a four-year term as Party Leader. That term began in 2006 and will run through 2010, unless the Party determines otherwise.

"My position on this is that I humbly serve at the will of the Party, and until I hear differently from you, I will continue to serve as your Party Leader until October of 2010."

He urged the delegates to put the party before themselves and to show loyalty to the PLP.

"Let me be clear, this is not about something anyone said about Ewart Brown. As individuals, we are all personally irrelevant when it comes to the continued viability of the Progressive Labour Party or our beloved country.

"Again, in the words of our dear Freddie Wade, "Those who see the Party as an opportunity for personal satisfaction, personal financial gain, or personal political gain must reassess their values and reshape their ideas so that they develop the conviction required not for my sake but for the good of the Party, the country and the people whom we represent."

"This is about putting the Party first. That's what time it is."

Leadership and loyalty were the main themes of a lengthy speech, which also touched on labour issues and the controversial decision to shut down the New York tourism office.

But time after time the Premier returned to the issue of his own position.

"I am humbled, but proud, that you elected me as your Party leader and as the leader of this country.

"I believe that I have the vision, zeal, and tenacity to pursue the dreams of our ancestors.

"But, I never promised you a rose garden. "

He said that what he had promised a Government 'dedicated to the empowerment of the many and not the few'.

He concluded: "I am ecstatic to report that this PLP government is delivering on that promise.... This PLP government is empowering a new generation of people who had never before been given the opportunity to participate in the wealth of this economy."

See the full text of Dr Ewart Brown's speech to the PLP conference here.