Former premier laments loss of Brown
Walton Brown would have been the “guiding hand” and “stabilising force” to help lead Bermuda to independence if he had not died, according to former premier Alex Scott.
Mr Scott told The Royal Gazette that Mr Brown, who was chairman of the Committee for the Independence of Bermuda in the 1990s, never lost hope that the island would reach a point when it was ready for self-determination.
“My great regret is that I left the job undone for the next generation,” said Mr Scott, who was Progressive Labour Party premier from 2003 to 2006. “Walton is part of that next generation.”
He added: “Our greatest regret is that Walton is gone too soon. He is someone we would have needed to be a guiding hand and articulate advocate for the way forward.
“With the fortunes of Great Britain now in turmoil, Bermuda can no longer look to the UK and say, ‘there’s a stabilising force’. Walton would have been the person we would have wanted to be the spear point.”
Government backbencher and former Cabinet minister Mr Brown died suddenly at the age of 59 on Tuesday.
Mr Scott said the thread that ran though all of Mr Brown’s thinking, before and during his “outstanding political career”, was a focus on readying Bermuda for independence.
He recalled how, as a young student, Mr Brown would come home to Bermuda during the summers and visit Dame Lois Browne-Evans, then the leader of the opposition PLP, at her Front Street office.
“There was this young, handsome, but very bright and articulate student, Walton Brown, who would always make a courtesy visit to Mrs Browne-Evans and they would engage in a respectful back and forward on issues of the day. It would invariably come round to independence and sovereignty.”
Mr Scott said when Mr Brown returned to the island permanently, his interest in independence continued.
“It wasn’t a rhetorical approach to independence; it was a reasoned and intellectual approach. It carried echoes of the student who sat across the desk from Mrs Browne-Evans.
“Now he was putting into verbal practice and political practice, policies and issues that he didn’t just arrive at; that he had long since thought out.”
The former premier said independence, a central tenet of the PLP’s party constitution, remained a logical next step for Bermuda.
He said of Mr Brown: “He would have been a stabilising force, in that he wasn’t one who took to the podium to rabble rouse with rhetoric.
“He reasoned with his intellect and knowledge. I think Bermuda, right across the board, would have been more responsive in the days ahead if we had Walton.
“It’s not something that happens on a day; it’s a process. It’s most important that you take the country with you, as opposed to lead them over. You have to inform and educate.”
Mr Scott said the late politician’s speeches and essays on the topic would likely become highly sought after in the coming years.
“I think history might just record that was one of his most significant contributions, in that folks will recall now what he said. They’ll be looking for his speeches and his writings and probably giving them attention that, while he was with us, we didn’t cherish and value enough.”
He added: “Our party, our government and certainly Walton’s family have lost a man of tremendous integrity.
“He’s one of those folks who are qualified for the adage ‘he walked quietly, but carried a very large intellectual stake’.
“To his family, we acknowledge the loss; we mourn in empathy and sympathy.”
Mr Brown told Parliament in July that a debate on independence was crucial in the face of recent British meddling in Bermuda’s affairs.
“I know there is a lot of fear out there just to raise the topic itself, but we should have no fear of such an important issue,” he said. “We should take the bull by the horns and address the issue forthrightly.”
• MPs and senators will pay tribute to Walton Brown today at a joint session of the legislature at Veritas Place. For live coverage, visit The Royal Gazette’s website
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