By AVA TURNQUEST
Tribune Chief Reporter
ENGLERSTON MP Glenys Hanna Martin yesterday said her defeat at convention demonstrated her party and the wider country were prepared to support candidates based on their perceived viability, brushing off suggestions that her campaign had been significantly affected by gender bias.
Mrs Hanna Martin did not confirm whether she will mount another leadership challenge in the future, but instead stressed the need to push forward on promised reforms to ensure an election win for the Progressive Liberal Party in 2022.
She underscored her willingness to work “shoulder to shoulder” with PLP Leader Philip “Brave” Davis to effect those reforms.
“We want to position the party as best we can for victory in 2022,” she said, “party first.”
“I wouldn’t want to deal with any issue of challenge or anything like that,” Mrs Hanna Martin continued, “we just came out of challenge, the convention has spoken and I accept that. We move forward now, we need reform, that’s the one thing I think is very necessary. The leader has indicated that that is top of his agenda and I will be working with him shoulder to shoulder to ensure that we effect the necessary reforms. I accept the results, congratulate the new leader, he’s indicated that he agrees reform is necessary and I will work with him in effecting that reform.”
She said: “On the issue of gender, I think it played some kind of role, I’m not sure if it was the major role. I think that for me the takeaway that I have out of this most recent convention election is, and you know Alfred Sears said it when he was a candidate in the prior election, the thing I take away from this is there is need for reform.
“We have to refine the democratic process in our party.”
The chaotic final national convention day suffered lengthy delays, which were attributed to the underestimation of delegate turnout and electricity failures.
The Englerston MP’s failed leadership bid won some 300 votes from delegates and stalwart councillors, with a reported 1,004 ballots cast for the victor, Mr Davis, last Wednesday.
Yesterday, Mrs Hanna Martin expressed gratitude to the block of voters that supported her nomination.
“This convention was the first to be held after our defeat at the polls,” she said.
“I think we have a few years now left to regroup, the party has to do that, it has to regroup. I stepped forward because I believe that it is very necessary for the PLP to go to a new direction, and at the time, I did not see that direction presenting itself with the status quo.
“The direction relates to our party but it relates more to our country because I see the party as being a pivotal agent in the future of our country or vehicle for the future of our country and that is why I thought it important to step up.”
Mrs Hanna Martin brushed off attempts to draw parallels between her leadership bid and that of former FNM Deputy Leader Loretta Butler-Turner, who made two attempts to challenge FNM leader, now Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis last term.
“I don’t think so,” Mrs Hanna Martin said, when asked if she felt her loss mirrored that of Mrs Butler-Turner. “I think it’s night and day, in the FNM the circumstances are very different. I don’t see parallels. I am very confident that the result of the convention shows that men and women are prepared to support candidates based on how they view their viability. I don’t see the parallel.”
The PLP’s internal process also came under scrutiny during its January convention, which saw former Prime Minister Perry Christie defend a leadership challenge from former attorney general Alfred Sears.
Last week Mr Sears explained that he would not participate in further contests until proposed changes were considered, adding it is “unlikely” the PLP will regain the trust of disaffected members or the voting public unless it undertakes a radical, “fundamental internal transformation”.
As for reforms, Mrs Hanna Martin said: “I think that it is clear, crystal clear, that there must be reform to the way in which these processes are carried out. I think that is the one takeaway that I do have. I had communicated previously to the trustees on a few matters relative to this. One is we need reform on money, how money plays out in these electoral processes and secondly we have to find a way to facilitate, especially for important votes like the next leader of your party, first time in 20 years that we’ve done this, to facilitate stalwarts who are able to participate even if they are not physically present at the convention hall, if only for pivotal votes of this nature.”
Mrs Hanna Martin said: “I think it is good that after all that has transpired, that this is the one thing that is coming out of the conversation, which is that we have to ensure that there is no question about the democratic process in our party.
“There have been concerns expressed, I think that’s important, and obviously it appears that the leader accepts that to some extent because he has indicated he will spearhead reforms to the constitution in this regard, and I look forward to working with him on that.”