Opposition Leader Kim Swan, left, says the BDA, led by Craig Cannonier, right, has no basis for its claim that it is ready to be the official opposition. *File photos
Opposition Leader Kim Swan, left, says the BDA, led by Craig Cannonier, right, has no basis for its claim that it is ready to be the official opposition. *File photos
Defiant UBP leader Kim Swan yesterday said his party will not roll over and die and accused “political upstarts” in the Bermuda Democratic Alliance (BDA) of disrespecting the island’s electorate.

He added that the BDA had yet to contest an election and had no political mandate whatsoever from the people. Responding to BDA leader Craig Cannonier’s call for the UBP to “turn out the lights” and let his party take over as official opposition, Mr. Swan said the comments showed “political immaturity”.

He added: “At the end of the day, the people will decide who they want to represent them.

“You cannot make the mistake of thinking that just because you are the new kid on the block that others should step aside just because you say so. It is not as easy as that.”

Mr. Swan said the BDA has no basis for its claim that it is ready to be the official opposition.

He believes this has to be earned through years of work in communities to win the trust of the people.

Mr. Swan added: “For political upstarts to be mouthing off in that way shows little understanding or respect for the hard work that is necessary to represent people and their concerns in a serious way.

 “I campaigned for 25 years in St. George’s to get elected.

“I have colleagues I respect on the other side of the House who have done the same.

“What you have here is a group of neophytes looking for a handout.”

Mr. Swan said the BDA owes their position in parliament to the United Bermuda Party “ethos” that and no member of the Alliance has even been elected to the House of Assembly as yet.

He added: “The irony is that Mr. Cannonier is making these comments and he hasn’t even been elected.”

Mr. Swan said many people were disappointed that the Alliance’s three MPs had not initiated by-elections in their constituencies when they switched sides a year ago.

He added: “I didn’t want to have to remind them of this but BDA should stand for betrayal, deceit and abandonment. That is what they did to the voters. They were elected under the UBP banner and many of them were given safe and comfortable UBP seats.

“They betrayed the confidence of the voters, deceived their colleagues and abandoned the principles they bought into to look for greener pastures. I was disappointed he [Craig Cannonier] made that cheap shot as it is not in keeping with the better way they are always talking about.”

Mr. Swan said the UBP was not in turmoil and dismissed talk of internal strife as pre-election hype ahead of the Warwick by-election.

He added that his party was focusing on the issues and would not be stepping aside for anyone.

He said: “We’ve got to go out there in the community and do what needs to be done.

“It’s unfortunate that they [the BDA] would choose to do things this way.

“I haven’t held any animosity to these people, even though I’m somewhat disappointed in their actions. The most important thing is that we look at the issues. Crime is the worst it has ever been in this country and the economy is facing the toughest challenges we can recall.

“That is what we are focusing on in the UBP. I’d certainly challenge Mr. Cannonier to focus on his own house.”

In a statement last week, Mr. Cannonier said: “A decision to switch off the lights and move off the stage will be one welcomed by the vast majority of the country, even those who have been long-time supporters of the United Bermuda Party.

 “The Alliance is ready to assume the role of the official Opposition of this country.”