By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEPUTY Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis yesterday dismissed claims that he is trying to “undermine” Prime Minister Perry Christie in an effort to become PLP leader.
The Deputy Prime Minister was responding to Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins who on Wednesday said he believes Bamboo Town MP Renward Wells is a victim of a leadership struggle between Mr Christie and at least one other member of the PLP.
While Dr Rollins did not specify who he meant, his comments suggested that there was a battle between Mr Christie and Mr Davis.
However, Mr Davis told the House of Assembly that Mr Christie has the “full support” of the majority of the party, including himself, and any suggestion otherwise is “untrue and baseless”.
“At my last understanding, the Rt Honourable Member of Parliament for Centreville is our Prime Minister. He is the leader of our country and the great leader of the Progressive Liberal Party,” Mr Davis said.
“As Prime Minister he enjoys the support of the majority in this place, including me, and as the leader of the executive he alone has the authority to appoint and disappoint. As leader of the party, he has the authority to lead and guide. As members of the hierarchical creature we call a party, officers and members have roles.
“When all of us know and play our roles, this machine becomes a thing of beauty ... The final thing to which I will respond is to Fort Charlotte’s allegation that a matter concerning the member for Bamboo Town is caught in a ‘power struggle’ geared toward removing our Prime Minister from his position of leadership.
“That is a serious assertion, serious and baseless. We have but one leader and I fully support one leader – that is the member for Centreville. The finger will only point in one direction if the truth is asked about who questions and seeks to undermine the present leadership,” Mr Davis said.
Dr Rollins was referring to Mr Wells’ role in the controversy over the signing of a $650m contract with a waste-to-energy company.
Mr Davis also questioned Dr Rollins’ motives and asked if he is still a member of the PLP. However, he said, just like “a wounded goose”, the party will “stay with him and nurse him back to health.”
“Spoken words have power and define you,” Mr Davis said. “They are like toothpaste out of the tube. Once the words are out of your mouth, no amount of apologising will put them back in. Once out, you can no longer hide from your words or the truth of who you are. All of us will do well to remember that, all of us should think before we speak. Disagreeing in viewpoints is the circumstance of a democracy. However, respect must issue from both sides.
“There is no reasonable point fanning the flames of controversy on a team. We go back to the example of the goose and recognise the wounded one. This team stands ready to stay with him, nurse him back to full health and assist his flying once again.”
Although he has always been outspoken, Dr Rollins has taken an adversarial stance against his own party over the past few months.
In mid-August he resigned as government whip in the House due to his disagreement with several of the Constitutional Amendment Bills before the House.
In September, he was the only PLP MP who voted against the passage of the Gaming Bill in the House. He was joined by the opposition MPs who were present in the House.
He has also become involved in heated rows with several PLP Cabinet ministers during debates in the House of Assembly over the past few months. His most stinging criticism came during a debate in the House last month on Value Added Tax (VAT) legislation when Dr Rollins said that it was “evident” the country needed “new political leadership.” At the time, he accused Mr Christie of “wasting the public’s time” by quoting scripture and “threatening” junior PLPs “instead of focusing on the critical debate.”
These remarks later prompted Mr Davis, then acting prime minister, to fire Dr Rollins after he did not resign as Gaming Board chairman.
On Wednesday, Dr Rollins said he will not apologise to Mr Christie for criticising him, despite PLP general council members urging him to do so last week.
He also said the Prime Minister, while deserving respect, was “not a god” and exempt from criticism.
However, he admitted that he could be “more diplomatic” in how he presents his views about the performance of the Christie administration. He said that he would apologise to senior members of the PLP council who may have been offended by some of his recent comments.