Music to her ears: Paula Cox is congratulated by a supporter as saxophonist Shine Hayward plays in the background. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
Music to her ears: Paula Cox is congratulated by a supporter as saxophonist Shine Hayward plays in the background. *Photo by Kageaki Smith
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Key figures in the Progressive Labour Party threw their weight behind Paula Cox’s bid for leadership yesterday.

Senator Walton Brown introduced Ms Cox at yesterday’s launch event praising her “quiet strength, keen intellectual sensibility and principled determination”.

Former Premiers Alex Scott and Dame Jennifer Smith were also in attendance.

And a crowd of supporters, including six current Cabinet ministers, sat behind Ms Cox, indicating their support, as she made her speech.

Education Minister El James said he had shelved his own leadership ambitions to support Ms Cox because he believed she had the right credentials for the job.

Guidance

He said she possessed the ‘three I’s’ required for success in politics — intelligence, integrity and interest in the community.

“I think you will see the PLP government prosper as a result of her guidance.”

Of his own leadership ambitions he added: “I have always played team sports and you always must think that you can one day be the captain.

“In this case I am backing Paula Cox. She has had many more years experience than I have and has been dedicated to the party for a few years longer.”

Energy and Telecommunications Minister Michael Scott said he was hoping and praying that Ms Cox’s leadership bid would be successful.

“The support today is a good sign but it is never wise to count your chickens before the delegates conference.

“What is important is the signs of broad support (from all sectors of the community) not just numerical support.”

Bermuda Industrial Union chief Chris Furbert, Attorney General Senator Kim Wilson and former UBP leader Wayne Furbert were also there to back Ms Cox’s campaign.

Ms Cox’s support spanned the age range from younger activists like Curtis Williams to veterans like Ira Philip.

Sports and Environment Minister Glenn Blakeney, one of the few cabinet ministers not in attendance, released a statement immediately afterwards endorsing her bid.

“Minister Cox has served Bermuda exceptionally well and has lead by example. She has been a steady, stabilizing political force who is widely respected among all segments of the community.

“Minister Cox will galvanize the Party and indeed the  country, because she evokes a unique level of comfort and confidence predicated upon work ethic, integrity and the general trust that she will always put Bermuda first.”

Premier Dr Ewart Brown is on vacation and has made no comment on the race to replace him.

The Front Runner — Paula Cox

If there were any doubts that the Finance Minister is viewed within the PLP as the Premier in waiting, they were set aside yesterday.

With virtually every Cabinet minister in support, Ms Cox, who is equally popular among the grassroots of the party, appears to have this race sewn up.

Party members believe she will make a principled and inclusive leader. Ms Cox is viewed as a reassuring presence for international business as well as a torch-bearer for traditional PLP values of social justice and racial equality.

As the daughter of respected former Finance Minister Eugene Cox, she is steeped in party tradition.

The Dark Horse — Terry Lister

Former Education Minister Mr. Lister accepts he has a lot of persuading to do if he is to convince the PLP delegates to back his bid.

He impressed with a sensible and pragmatic speech at Alaska Hall last week and is attempting to “seek a mandate” from the people with a series of Town Hall meetings.

But Mr. Lister appears to be swimming against the tide. All but a handful of his parliamentary colleagues are firmly in the Cox camp.

Even the tenor and the slogan of his campaign ‘It’s Bermuda’s turn’ seem designed to counter the widely held assumption within the PLP that it is Paula Cox’s turn.

The Long Shot — Dale Butler

If this were a national vote the popular former Culture Minister might well be the favourite.

But it isn’t and he is not.

Widely regarded as a unifying figure and a likable character, Mr. Butler’s popularity crosses race and class boundaries.

But many within the party feel he lacks the gravitas to lead the country and he is seen by some as too unpredictable to be a serious contender.

Despite his experience as a politician his CV is comparatively lightweight.

Whereas Mr. Lister and Ms Cox have filled almost every top ministerial post between them, Mr. Butler has yet to take on a major Cabinet role.

Related story: Our Premier-in-waiting?