Happier times: Premier Craig Cannonier celebrating the One Bermuda Alliance victory at the polls on December 17, 2012.  *Bermuda Sun photo
Happier times: Premier Craig Cannonier celebrating the One Bermuda Alliance victory at the polls on December 17, 2012. *Bermuda Sun photo

A former premier says political inexperience, not corruption or malevolence, may have sunk Craig Cannonier’s premiership.

“He just went from an unknown to the premiership with little apprenticeship in between,” said Alex Scott, a former PLP premier. “I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it is to be premier, even with lots of experience. 

“There are decisions being made every minute every hour every week. If he had bided his time, gotten a little more experience under his belt, he would most certainly have had a different outcome.”

Mr. Cannonier was a political newcomer when his OBA came to power in the 2012 election.

 “He’s a very affable young man but he had limited experience in the political arena when going into office,” said Mr Scott.

Another keen observer of island politics, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Mr Cannonier had the potential to be a unifier for Bermuda. The OBA, said this source, could have dispensed with politics as usual.

“Mr Cannonier represented a new way of doing politics. His set of challenges began with an infamous jet trip. I suspect he went on this trip and I don’t  think anything untoward was being conducted. He was going to see a businessperson to strike some sort of deal for Bermuda. If he admitted to this, it probably would have blown over. It’s more lacking political experience and naivete. The more you try to conceal, the more that people want to reveal.”

It didn’t help that “the story kept changing,” according to the source.

“Then it became a credibility issue.”

The OBA, said Mr Scott, now faces an uphill battle to win back the confidence of the electorate. He echoed a sentiment that other political observers have made: “The OBA didn’t so much win in 2012 as much as the Progressive Labour Party lost it.”

He said around 3,000 people stayed away from the polls in that election.

“In 18 months, a tremendous injury has been done to the public trust of the OBA,” he said. “Winning that trust back is going to be an uphill battle. Those 3,000 who sat on the sidelines have probably made a conclusion that it would be very difficult to return the OBA to power next election.”

The challenge now for the OBA, said Mr Scott, is to get everyone in the party back on the same page.

“Not to be mischievous, but it’s the old adage of Humpty Dumpty. Can the OBA be put back together again? It’s had a very significant fall. We haven’t seen the end of this. There is a commitment to have an investigation.”

Then there’s the Opposition. The PLP, according to Mr Scott, are not going to let the OBA rest.

“There are very serious constitutional questions raised as to the way forward,” he said. “There is the question of campaign funds, maybe that stops short of constitutional, but it’s the old case of follow the money. The Opposition probably are going to want a public accounting of where those monies went, what happened to them.” 

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