Whether or not the report had substance, the notion is a tantalizing one.

There’s no doubt that the leaders of both parties have taken a bruising during the last couple of years. Of course it’s been relative. Premier Scott as the leader of the PLP government presents a far larger target than his UBP counterpart, Dr. Gibbons. The government takes the credit or the rap for whatever gets done or not done. The opposition gets criticized mainly for the calibre of its critique of the government. Both leaders have lost ground in the public opinion polls, and rumblings of start-up alternative parties imply dissatisfaction with both parties. It wouldn’t be surprising to find the party faithful of both teams contemplating new leadership to shore up public support.

So let’s speculate, starting with the PLP. Just after the PLP’s second win in 1993, Premier Jennifer Smith was deposed in an internal coup. A move by Arthur Hodgson to depose her earlier failed, and may have led to his absence among the ranks of MPs after the election.

Premier Scott acceded to the Premiership with some adverse baggage from his handling, as former Works Minister, of the secondary school construction.

Deputy Premier Dr. Brown added to public distrust of the new leadership with his post-coup comment: “We had to deceive you.” Mis-steps and mis-statements combined with an aggressive-to-hostile press have fostered the public’s jaundiced view of the PLP’s Cabinet. Misogynist tendencies within the party and the parliamentary group, and conflicts over priorities, have added to overall internal strain.

The stage is set for a PLP leadership change.

One challenge facing the PLP is the thin layer of leadership material in its elected MPs. The elevation of Alex Scott to Premier and departure from Cabinet of Jennifer Smith and Nelson Bascome left gaps that have barely been filled. Reneé Webb’s departure led to a combining of the Ministries of Tourism and Transport, an indication of Dr. Brown’s power and ambition no doubt, but perhaps more a recognition that there’s a dearth of Cabinet-quality material in the remaining PLP MP stable.

Since selection of the Premier is out of our (the electorate’s) hands, any preferences we/I put forward may have no bearing on the outcome. But let’s put them forward anyway. Dr. Brown seems the most aggressively ambitious of the slate. He has a reputation for getting things done. However, his style of charging ahead and running roughshod over any in his way is not endearing.

His uncompromising and punitive treatment of taxi drivers, and his relentless pursuit of mega-cruise ships, combined with his admitted willingness to deceive are worrisome. A Dr. Brown-led Cabinet could well trigger a popular revolt.

Terry Lister and Randy Horton both have leadership qualities, though different. Their troublesome portfolios, Education and Home Affairs (labour and public safety) make it difficult for them to shine.

Paula Cox, reserved and unassuming, is liked by many and has a strength of character many would like to see in the country’s leader.

She has had a steady hand on each portfolio she has held. Dale Butler has mellowed considerably and years ago declared his interest in being Premier. His creative energy is unrivaled. Whether either of them yet commands enough support to garner the top spot is questionable.

Given the hostility of the dominant press and its influence on public opinion, whoever ascends to the PLP’s helm is in for a rocky ride. Perhaps the most important quality is a thick hide.

Next week: Stuart muses over the UBP leadership.