Former UBP Leader On Passing Of Sir David

April 2, 2014

[Written by Kim Swan, Former Leader of the United Bermuda Party] It is with profound sadness and with respect that I offer this letter of condolences to the family and friends of the late Sir David Gibbons.

Sir David and I were both leaders of the United Bermuda Party – albeit he being the fourth UBP Leader as Premier of Bermuda and I the 11th and final UBP Leader as an Opposition Leader – Sir David followed Sir Henry Tucker, Sir Edward Richards and the late Sir John “Jack” Sharpe leading the Political party built by Sir Henry “Jack” Tucker in 1964.

The death of Sir David Gibbons signals that time marches on with the passing of another of Bermuda’s leaders from a period in our history that ushered in social change, greater prosperity but also evokes great controversy as partisan political pundits and historians will offer diverse commentary on the same period.

Elected in 1972 Sir David entered politics during a period when a new more representative constitution was in operation in Bermuda, a time that would see Bermuda become the most advanced of all British Overseas Dependent Territories. It was also a period when the political leaders in Bermuda both controlled politics and business in Bermuda simultaneously. Sir David can be credited with many successes as Bermuda blossomed as a financial jurisdiction, it can be said that he most certainly built on and enhanced the tremendous vision of Sir Henry Tucker’s era.

Sir David’s tenure of government was in full flight, when I as a teenager entered the political foray in the 1970s in the Southampton West Branch of the United Bermuda Party with The late Hon. Ralph Marshall and the late Harry Viera.

In a country were the turnover of political leaders has become commonplace, Sir David’s tenure as Premier is the third longest behind Sir John Swan and Dame Jennifer Smith.

From my vantage point, Sir David’s politics was driven by his Financial stewardship Style as he is one of two Premiers to have also held the Ministry of Finance post at the same time.

I vividly recall one of his famous quotes

“I will let the record speak for itself”

And he proudly heralded balanced budgets during his tenure as Finance Minister.

Sir David Gibbons’ tenure of leadership came at an extremely tumultuous period in Bermuda’s modern history and had some points which stood out:

  • The removal of the beloved Sir Jack Sharpe as Premier;
  • Riots following the executions of Buck Burrows and Larry Tacklyn;
  • Commissioned and acted on recommendations from the Dr. Kenneth Clark Report;
  • Had the under 40 Caucus develop within the United Bermuda Party led by Mike Winfield and Julian Hall;
  • Was Premier when former Health Minister Gloria McPhee endorsed Lois Brown Evans and Julian Hall defected to the PLP prior to the 1980 General Election;
  • Narrowly won the 1980 election as Premier 22-18, before stepping down paving the way for a new leader;
  • Advanced the framework/groundwork for the development of International Business;
  • Introduced political polling and american style campaigning;
  • At the centre of the removal of Governor Posnett;
  • Was Premier during the General Strike of 1981

Notwithstanding, Sir David’s record of sound financial management in Bermuda speaks for itself and few if any would argue with the financial stewardship of Bermuda under Sir David Gibbons.

Following a career in politics Sir David’s voice became one of great persuasion and as Chairman of the Bank of NT Butterfield and the development of the Edmund Gibbons limited as a formidable business entity would catapult Sir David Gibbons to become one of the most powerful persons in Bermuda.

During Sir David’s tenure two important sociological reports were commissioned – similar to the Kenneth Clark Report in the late 70s during Sir David Gibbons’ tenure as Premier – there was also an important social profile of Bermuda that was commissioned by Sir David Gibbons when he was Chairman of the Bank of NT Butterfield in the 1990s – a study of Bermuda carried out by Dr. Carol Swain from the Princeton University which contained startling sociological and economic findings pertaining to Bermuda.

Behind Sir David Gibbons was a lovely personable lady, while Sir David was often characterized as a ” stoic money man” – but I fondly recall the role of his wife Lady Lully as first lady of Bermuda politics and to this day – whose warm personality ably complemented a very matter of fact public figure.

Personally, I recall a matter of fact comment that I received from Sir David during the 1983 election campaign photo session at Albouys Point – he on the eve of concluding his political career and I at the start of mine. On that occasion, I remember Sir David Gibbons said to me, “politics won’t leave much time for golf.”

From my vantage point, Sir David’s contribution was immeasurable and while I am sure it is not without criticism, but through it all his most poignant comment still rings through loud and clear, as the testament to his life

” I’ll let my record speak for itself….

I am proud of the association Sir David and I had in common, of having both led the now defunct United Bermuda Party, a political party which practiced fiscal prudence, presided over unprecedented growth of the Bermuda middle class and as a government navigated Bermuda through some difficult periods.

May Sir David Gibbons rest in Peace.

-Kim Swan

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Comments (3)

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  1. Blessed says:

    RIP Sir David. <3

  2. GOD1ST says:

    Politricks !!!! LOL