MP Shawn Crockwell announced he has resigned from the OBA and will sit in the House as an Independent, citing a number of reasons including the OBA embracing the philosophy of the UBP, a “methodology of arrogance”, “misguided leadership” and more.
Mr Crockwell — who resigned as a Cabinet Minister earlier this year — delivered a 19-minute speech in the House of Assembly on Friday, saying “it has now become unworkable for me to remain in this organization.”
The Truth Shall Set You Free
“Mr. Speaker, in my preparation for my presentation today, I found that I have drafted multiple speeches to try and get the right balance. I received a few calls from individuals that I hold in high regard last night, and the theme and advice to me was to be measured. That’s what I will attempt to do.
“I have to tell you that the first draft was way too harsh, so I had to dispose of that. The second draft was way too emotional, so I put that aside, and then I decided to do something Mr. Speaker, that I believe, that I need to do a bit more often.
“That is, I said a prayer, and then I said the prayer Mr. Speaker. The answer that came back was, just tell the truth. And the truth shall set you free.
Creation Of The One Bermuda Alliance Was My Idea
“Mr. Speaker, the creation of the One Bermuda Alliance was my idea, and that’s what makes today a bit more difficult for me.
“Merging of the Bermuda Democratic Alliance with the United Bermuda Party, Mr. Speaker, was an idea that I had, and I shared it with my BDA colleagues, including my very good friend the learned member Mark Pettingill next to me here.
“I’ll tell you Mr. Speaker, it took me one year to convince my colleagues it was a good idea. Then once we got to that stage, and it was after the by-election that was caused by the retirement of Dr. Ewart Brown, and the BDA’s quality candidate came third, and they realized the efficacy of the merger made sense. Then it took us one year to negotiate the merger.
“Mr. Speaker, I took the idea to the honourable Premier Michael Dunkley, who has been my friend for many years, which also makes today very difficult. We thought that it was something we can do, and it took us a year to negotiate the creation of the OBA.
I Resigned From the UBP As They Fell Out Of Touch With The People
“The merger, Mr. Speaker, if you look at the name One Bermuda Alliance, alliance is another name for coalition. The recent discussions that have been had, and comments I have made about my interests and my desire of forming a coalition government is nothing new, for me, Mr. Speaker.
“The formation of the OBA was just that, it was a coalition. It was a coalition of the BDA, which represented a progressive and grassroot political philosophy. Young people, new people, into politics, with the United Bermuda Party, which represented experience and a fiscal conservative political philosophy.
“The challenge that I had, Mr. Speaker, because let’s not forget, that in 2009, I resigned from the then UBP, and I resigned from the UBP because despite the fact that I shared a conservative fiscal approach, the United Bermuda Party, Mr. Speaker, fell out of touch with the people of this country.
“They did not get the majority of the electorate. I had a challenge with that, and that was part of the reason why I resigned.
“Then we created this One Bermuda Alliance, Mr. Speaker, the vision, was for the new OBA to allow the philosophy and the vision of the BDA to dominate, Mr. Speaker, the new party, because that’s what was fresh, that’s what was attractive to the electorate, and have that blend, and have it be a coalition, a co-opting of two organizations. The plan and the vision was to grow as a grassroots party.
Audio of Mr Crockwell’s resignation speech in the House
OBA Has Embraced Philosophy & Methodology Of The UBP
“What has happened is, instead of the OBA reflecting the vision of the BDA, particularly under the current leadership, Mr. Speaker, the OBA has embraced the philosophy and the methodology, Mr. Speaker, of the UBP.
“A philosophy of my way is the right way, Mr. Speaker. It has governed in a way that clearly, and we’ve seen this in the last two years in particular, where there is a disconnect with the people of this country.
“Not necessarily because of the decisions that have been made, because there have been difficult decisions, and decisions that had to be made to move this country in the right direction.
“This government inherited difficult situations, particularly when we talk about the economy. So we had some tough decisions. I’ve always said that difficult decisions will attract criticism, because no one likes to deal with difficult decisions. But sometimes, it’s not what you do, Mr. Speaker, it’s how you do it.
We’ve Had A Methodology Of Arrogance
“We’ve had a methodology of arrogance, Mr. Speaker, coming from this government. My way is the right way, Mr. Speaker. That is why we have had all of the protests that we have seen in the past three years.
“This has been unprecedented in number, not just the frequency of them, but the amount of individuals that were protesting because of the methodology and the disconnect.
“The fact of the matter, Mr. Speaker, is that in 2012, the people of this country did not vote for the United Bermuda Party. The people of this country, voted for the One Bermuda Alliance. They saw something new, something fresh. They thought they were getting a different vision.
“What they have received, Mr. Speaker, is the UBP, and if the One Bermuda Alliance government do not make the necessary adjustments, you have to remember, Mr. Speaker, the United Bermuda Party lost three consecutive elections for a reason.
“And had we not merged, had we not created the One Bermuda Alliance, had we not brought in the fresh, new ideas and faces and visions, and philosophy of doing things, we would not have won 2012. We would not have won.
“I was very proud of the fact that I had a significant hand in it, not just myself, it was other members, my honourable and learned friend Mark Pettingill was involved in that, and many others that sit in this chambers, the former Premier Craig Cannonier played a pivotal role in that, Mr. Speaker.
Under Misguided Leadership We Have Gone Back To Very Thing I Left In 2009
“But we forfeited our position and, in my view, under misguided leadership, we have gone back to the very thing that I left, Mr. Speaker, in 2009.
“Now, I am not going to rehash the unfortunate events surrounding the immigration protest, Mr. Speaker, but let me say that was the event that culminated into my resignation from the Cabinet, because I had consistently failed in having the the counsel, I was providing, not just myself and this is not about me, but today I have to explain why I am taking the decision that I have taken.
“Because time and time again when those of us who were trying to advise the government on a certain course of action, and time and time again, that old UBP methodology and philosophy would prevail, and time and time again, we would get the same results. I was frustrated with that.
I Was Not Just There To Be Window Dressing
“I was not just there to be window dressing, Mr. Speaker. I expected to be there to have influence, and bring the philosophy that I embraced, and others, and have that make an impact on the policies and on the direction of the government.
“When I resigned, I offered my, I offered an olive branch, Mr. Speaker, because on the day that I resigned, and I shared this with my parliamentary colleagues, my heart and my spirit and my conscience wanted to go independent then, on that day, but I resisted it and I offered an olive branch that I would stay.
“We had a budget looming, the Finance Minister has enough burden to bear. We had to get the budget passed, and I did not want to cause any more confusion, and I certainly did not want to destabilize the government at that time, and so I said I would stay.
“I expected that the olive branch would have been appreciated and, even in many respects, reciprocated in treatment towards me as a colleague.
I Went Back Into Private Legal Practice
“I went back into private legal practice, and I have to say that I was quite pleased that I immediately was able to acquire a respectable volume of clients.
“Quite a large, probably about 60% of my clientele, Mr. Speaker, had issues against the government. Whether it was a wrongful dismissal from a government department. Whether it was an application to the liquor licensing authority. Whether it was appealing a decision of the Chief Immigration Officer.
“The largest entity in this country is the government, the largest employer in this country is the government. There are going to be a plethora of legal disputes against the government.
“Absurd” Letter from Attorney-General
“They came to me and they sought my assistance, and I have to tell you that I acted for these individuals, and to my astonishment, Mr. Speaker, I received a letter from the Attorney-General, and I will not get into the details of the letter, because that is client privilege, Mr. Speaker, at this stage, but I received a letter from the Attorney General which instructed me that because the honorable member Mark Pettingill was a former Attorney-General of this country, that he and I, and anyone else that worked at the firm, was prevented from representing any client against the government. Completely and totally absurd. Unheard of.
“Of all of the former Attorney-Generals that we’ve had in this country, that have represented clients against this government, as a matter of fact Mr. Speaker, my honorable business partner, is a well-known highly respected litigator, that has litigated up to the Privy Council multiple times, if this instruction is to be followed, it will completely paralyze his practice, and destroy at least 60% of mine.
“I was astonished that as a former colleague of the cabinet, that I would be told that I cannot freely practice my profession in my country. That is economic, Mr. Speaker, intimidation.
Immigration Raid On My Home
“Mr. Speaker, there’s a report in today’s RG, in relation to an immigration raid on my home. Again, I’m not going to get into the details of this because there are individuals that I don’t want to expose, including the company that I hired two years ago.
“Two years ago I hired this company on the referral of a very prominent family, to clean my house, and they been cleaning my house and doing a fantastic job, Mr. Speaker, for two years. Not one complaint. Stellar job. Comes once a week, four hours. Once a week, had no issue.
“The primary cleaner, I know is married to a Bermudian, and has children from a Bermudian. I don’t know everyone that came to my house, but I can tell you that, because of course, during the day I’m at work, but I find out that there was a directive, Mr. Speaker, because of a some suspicion that the company may have had an illegal worker on their staff, there was a directive to apprehend this illegal worker at my house.
“I had three immigration officers come to my house and thoroughly search my house. A former Minister of the government.
When A Black Man Stands Up To The Establishment
“And I heard people speaking, and I don’t know if they have a problem with it. This is the truth. If you can’t deal with the truth, then I’m sorry, Mr. Speaker. This is what happened to me. These are facts. I have a responsibility to my constituents, and to the people of this country, to explain why I’m taking my feet today.
“When I hear Dr. Brown, in his press conference say ‘why are they going after him’ he says, ‘because when a black man stands up to the establishment, they come after you.’ Well, I can say, you know what Mr. Speaker, I’m living it. I’m living it, Mr. Speaker.
“When my uncles tell me stories, when I was growing up, about how if you went up against the establishment, you can get your mortgage pulled. I used to hear those stories, Mr. Speaker, and I used to think it was an exaggeration. Well, I don’t anymore, Mr. Speaker.
“Because I am a former colleague and this is happening to me, Mr. Speaker. So what can I do when you have this level of mistrust?
Unworkable For Me To Remain, I Will Stand As Independent
“This is not an ambush. I have met with the Premier. I have expressed my concerns with him. I met with him shortly after this incident. I met with him after I received this letter.
“I have to say, to date, I have not received any satisfactory response, but I’m expected to just be quiet and carry on. Well that’s just not my personality.
“I feel that it has now become unworkable for me to remain in this organization. I will stand in this honorable house as an independent member. I will continue to discharge my duty, the way I have always done.
“I can stand on my record in this honourable house, Mr. Speaker. I come every week, prepared, Mr. Speaker. There’s probably more words and hansard attributable to me, than most. I come every week and I discharge my duty, Mr. Speaker, in this House and I’ll continue to do so, and work hard.
“I am not closed to working for this government, because there are good people in this government, Mr. Speaker, but there are some, Mr. Speaker, who can’t shake the old UBP way. And Mr. Speaker, for that, I have to resign.”