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Phillips and Hammond hit back at ‘yes men’ claim

Opposition MPs Elliott Phillips and Trevor Hammond insisted yesterday that they had no aspirations to lead the GSD.

The two MPs were reacting to claims made by Marlene Hassan Nahon in a resignation letter to GSD leader Daniel Feetham earlier this week.

Ms Hassan Nahon described the two MPs as ‘yes men’ who had “poisoned” her relationship with Mr Feetham to further their own leadership aspirations.

But both men strongly refuted that suggestion yesterday.

“I am disappointed that she believes that I wish to inherit the leadership of the party,” Mr Phillips said. “Nothing could be further from the truth.”

“I had the opportunity some three months ago as did every other MP to stand against Daniel Feetham in the leadership election for our party.”

“I did not do so and Mr Feetham enjoyed the unanimous support of the party, including that of Marlene.”

Mr Phillips described Ms Hassan Nahon as “a very passionate person” and said this was a quality he admired.

But he added: “Sometimes in life we all must take a step back and hear the views of other colleagues.”

“This doesn’t make us ‘Yes men’ but rather, mature, considered, reflective, and sometimes means recognising the faults in your own arguments.”

“If Marlene can no longer work with us, then that is ok and I wish her all the best.”

Mr Hammond, who said he was saddened but not surprised by Ms Hassan Nahon’s resignation, reflected a similar position.

“She has been threatening this course of action from the very first meeting of Members of Parliament after the General Election so her decision now, while very disappointing, is not surprising,” he said.

“As for her suggestion that my own aims are for the leadership of the party, I can only say that I have no leadership aspirations.” 

“Daniel Feetham is the leader of the Opposition and we all have a very important job to do working in support of him as Her Majesty's Opposition in Parliament.”

“He has my full support and Ms Nahon's claims would be more indicative of her ambitions than mine.”

On Thursday, Ms Hassan Nahon announced that she had resigned from the GSD because she believed the party no longer corresponded to her belief in collegiate politics.

She spoke of friction with Mr Hammond and Mr Phillips and claimed the GSD had become “a toxic environment” that was being led in an “authoritarian and divisive manner”.

Ms Hassan Nahon said she remained committed to the community and would remain in Parliament as an independent. She hoped for a “respectful albeit distant” relationship with her former GSD colleagues.

Yesterday both Mr Phillips and Mr Hammond said they were saddened by her decision.

Mr Phillips, who was Ms Hassan Nahon’s election agent in the 2013 by-election, said they had stood shoulder to shoulder and shared core values and political responsibilities.

“I am saddened by Ms Nahon’s resignation on a personal  and professional level,” he said, adding that he had valued her friendship.   

“I believe that when the dust has settled Marlene will recognise that her statement yesterday was disingenuous given that she stood on a GSD platform with a set of GSD policies which she was instrumental in developing,” he said.

“I am proud of our education policy and I am proud of our apprenticeship policy.  I believe that she shares that feeling.”    

“Politics is a difficult but rewarding job and having being involved politics for 10 years,  I recognise that it takes time to earn peoples trust.”

“You have to have stamina, thick skin, drive and conviction and most of all you must want to have at your core the desire to improve the lives of our people.”

“As a politician you have to show that you deserve the people’s vote and that you won’t let them down.”   

“I personally would have hoped that Marlene would have given it more than six months and two parliamentary sessions after the General Election before calling it a day.”

Mr Phillips added that he was also disappointed by “some of the unpleasant things” Ms Hassan Nahon had said about him in her resignation letter to Mr Feetham.

But he said collegiate politics did not mean compromising on core values or integrity as individuals, but rather recognising that sometimes the collective view taken by the majority must prevail.

“That is how democratic parties work,” he said.

Mr Hammond also reflected on the need to toe the party line, something he claimed Ms Hassan Nahon had struggled with.

“I was very saddened to hear the news of Ms Nahon's resignation from the GSD, many people had put their faith and trust in her and they have been disappointed,” he said.

“The current team of MPs have adopted a very collegiate approach to decision making and of course, once a decision has been made, we are bound by collective responsibility whether we agree or not, a concept Ms Nahon has struggled to accept.”