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Smith: Old Guard Should Let The Next Generation Have Their Say

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Dion Smith

By KYLE WALKINE

Tribune Staff Reporter

kwalkine@tribunemedia.net

NASSAU Village Member of Parliament Dion Smith said he has a problem when young politicians are ridiculed by older members of their party for speaking their mind on certain issues, particularly when they are doing so in a respectful manner and for the betterment of the country. 

Mr Smith said it seems as though there is always a problem between the new generation of PLP MPs and older politicians when the younger ones voice their differences with the government’s decisions. 

Mr Smith, who is also deputy speaker of the House of Assembly, spoke with The Tribune a day before he criticised the government over its perceived neglect of his constituents and the proposed valued added tax (VAT) implementation.

“I do encourage free speaking,” Mr Smith said outside Parliament last week. “But I don’t want to see too much internal fighting and party members trying to tear down one another. I think that’s when a lot of emotions get involved. It’s like, ‘Who do you think you are?’ That’s how I feel sometimes when people say you speak out of turn. Who do you think you are to tell me I’m speaking out of turn? But if you’re being respectful and saying things that are right, I think you should be allowed to do it.

“I would encourage more free speaking among politicians,” Mr Smith added. “But what I would say is that you not do it with negative intentions. Sometimes persons do this tit-for-tat thing. I think that is totally wrong. I think if it’s something that is to move the majority of the Bahamian public forward then we should look at it and look at it seriously as well as all the options.” 

“I think the older guards are entitled to their opinion,” he said. “But us as a new generation were just having a conversation about this. What we have to concern ourselves with is, we have to understand that other persons within our age bracket look to us to be the ones in charge when it’s time for them to move forward. In other words, persons in our age brackets want us to be the ones thinking of ways to improve their life, rather than someone that is so far removed from their age group. So I think that us, as a new generation, just have open minds. Some people don’t like change. But change is here. It’s coming.”

Last Thursday, during his contribution to the House of Assembly’s budget debate, Mr Smith told the Christie administration that his constituents in “frighteningly” poor Nassau Village complain of not being able to “feel” the government. He also said there are many residents who are experiencing the same hardships of Grand Bahamians, but feel overlooked and voiced concerns about VAT’s impact on the poor.

Recently, several PLP backbenchers have voiced dissent about government policies.

On June 4, during debate in the House of Assembly Marco City MP Greg Moss said the implementation of VAT would go against the founding principle of the PLP to protect the poor. He has previously said that the PLP will lose the next election if VAT is introduced. He supported income tax as an alternative tax model.

When asked to comment on Mr Moss’ criticism last week, PLP Chairman Bradley Roberts lambasted the Marco City MP. Mr Roberts said the Marco City MP was speaking “out of turn” and is clearly “on a course that obviously only he is on.”

Mr Moss’ comments also elicited criticism from fellow PLP MP and Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald. Last week during his contribution to the 2014/2015 budget debate, Mr Fitzgerald said that Mr Moss is “misguided” in his criticism of the government’s VAT plans. 

When asked to comment on the recent criticisms from younger politicians, Mr Smith told The Tribune he doesn’t think the new PLP MPs should be silenced but their views must be respected. 

“We’re young, and I don’t think that we should be silenced,” the Nassau Village MP said. “Now we’re not necessarily silenced. But persons are trying to say that Mr Moss spoke out of turn, or (Fort Charlotte MP Andre) Rollins spoke out of turn, but at the end of the day they should be entitled to speak their mind. That’s what we’re here for in Parliament. We’re here to say how we feel and not be silenced.” 

Dr Rollins came to Mr Moss’ defence last week. He also warned PLP “loyalists” that they are setting a “dangerous” precedent by criticising members of the party who express differing views from the party line.

Dr Rollins said such action could cause the public to believe, whether true or false, that the interest of the party exceeds the interest of the nation.

Last week MICAL MP V Alfred Gray told The Tribune that new generation politicians must learn not to be “fast on their tongue”. He warned that one false move can mean the end of political career, just as it is getting started.

Comments

Bahamianpride 4 months, 1 week ago

You can forget it, they not interested in new ideas and see it as a challenge to their authority. Its all about me baby, screw what's best for the country, screw passing the torch, screw everything, MMMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEE.

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Smith according to a talk show host your expressions on the house floor are not the same as on the talk show. Pray tell which is true? You must admit you give the opposition fuel for fire. there will be quotes from your speech for a long time to come. Never the less,, I like you and wish you God Speed. Be sure to tell your people that they have to work hard, because there is no free lunch. remind them of the fish story. One must learn how to fish.

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generalcrazy 4 months, 1 week ago

New or old, all politicians are a total waste of space.

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sheeprunner12 4 months, 1 week ago

I suggest that these so-called PLP Young Turks begin to craft a new party now because the PLP Old Guard will not welcome them back in 2017 ............ it makes for good political drama

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The_Oracle 4 months, 1 week ago

A bunch of has beens that technically never were, aside by default! Closed mindedness is partly responsible for the decay, the lack of encouragement, potential, the unrest in the youth. Bahamians do not speak of the possible, They perpetuate the impossible.

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birdiestrachan 4 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Smith: Butler Turner who is a born deceiver. she has no shame A true liar is one who lies to one's self. I Think she is the only one who believes what she says. But over and over she used your words. "I am not feeling this Government" Perhaps you should write her speeches for her. She may be to pompous for that.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 months ago

Simply unbelievable that this poor guy, MP Smith, gets berated by the old guard at the request of Perry "Vomit" Christie for having spoken up on the floor of the House of Assembly about the plight of the poor in his constituency! Hubiggity and Vomit have outdone each other when it comes to being the largest players the Bahamas has ever had in the field of corrupt largesse. These two make the old UBP white boys of many moons ago seem like church choir boys when it comes to all that they have afflicted our society with: incessant fear of crime, no jobs for our children, hungry unschooled children, no affordable electricity (many of us back to using candles and kerosene lanterns), prices for healthy food (fruits, vegetables, nuts, etc.) that only our well-fed politicians and their wealthy business cronies and foreign friends can afford, schools in a state of disrepair and without school supplies, inability to travel abroad because of outrageous new airport taxes built into ever increasing airfares, poor quality water and very low water pressure in many neighborhoods, banking fees gone wild, taxes, taxes and more taxes, and on and on. All the while our politicians, or ruling elite as they like to think of themselves, are living the high life off of the wealth they have effectively stolen over the years from hard working poor and middle class Bahamians; the middle class in fact has now been all but decimated. Our politicians have gotten so accustomed to cavorting with their corrupt business cronies and wealthy foreigners that they now want a new parliament building with secure areas like private restrooms so they don't have to mix with us poor dumb stupid voters who they now seem to fear. Meanwhile the Pope has decided to no longer use the secure bullet proof Pope Mobile as he wishes to be closer to the people. Guess our politicians know the sins they have committed against the good hardworking poor people of the Bahamas and, unlike the Pope, have something to fear in being around us.

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Sickened 4 months ago

I agree. However, it is very unfortunate that I and so, so many other Bahamians feel the very same way about our politicians. Why can't there be more than just a small handful that are honest, good people? It is sad to think that this beautiful country is so corrupt that those Bahamians who can flee are making plans to do so. I fear that before the next election, MP's will be terribly fearful of their wellbeing and that the last few good, honest politicians will be too scared to run for a seat. Next year's budget debate will most probably have talks about the need to upgrade the fleet of government vehicles to provide MP's with more protection.

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