By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts yesterday blasted two veteran PLPs over attempting to “wash the party’s linens in public”, insisting that they both know the proper procedure to have their concerns heard and addressed internally.
Mr Roberts was responding to calls from Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller and former Cabinet minister George Smith who, on Monday, argued that the party’s convention should be held sooner rather than later.
Mr Miller and Mr Smith want a September date instead of November for the event and were adamant that the party needs to organise itself and excite its base in preparation for the next general election.
However, Mr Roberts dismissed this, saying he had not learned of their concerns until he read the comments in The Tribune yesterday.
“The PLP does not conduct its business in the newspaper and we certainly don’t wash our linens in the public eye,” Mr Roberts said. “If they are desirous of an earlier convention they know the proper instruments for this. I won’t be responding to such requests in the newspaper. Delegates are being chosen, are getting ready and looking forward to the convention.”
Mr Roberts also responded to Mr Smith saying he hopes changes take place at the next PLP convention and that someone replaces the chairman.
To this, Mr Roberts said he was not concerned as he welcomed candidates to contest him as they should in a working democracy. However, he told The Tribune that he had not yet decided whether he would offer himself for the post.
The chairman said all members of good standing were invited to contest whichever positions they choose.
On Monday Mr Miller said: “Politics is a funny game. The longer the convention goes on and the decision is made to have it in November, it is telling us in Parliament and other PLPs around the country that they are trying to avert anyone standing for any of the positions that could be vacant. I don’t think that should be said to people. It would really be a slap in the face not to call a convention earlier than November.”
The Tall Pines MP added that he fears PLP members are complacent in the face of the Free National Movement (FNM) leadership fight that has grabbed headlines and brought hundreds of FNM supporters out last week to separate events in a show of support for their preferred leader between Dr Hubert Minnis and Loretta Butler-Turner.
“I think many politicians who just reach believe that because of the infighting in the opposition, this makes it easier for the PLP,” he said. “It would be a drastic mistake for anyone to make. Bahamians don’t vote for the opposition. They vote against governments.”
The need for an earlier convention, Mr Miller said, is highlighted by the fact that the governing party is disconnected from everyday Bahamians amid persistent crime and high rates of poverty and unemployment.
For his part, Mr Smith, a former member of Parliament for Exuma, said an early convention would show the PLP is in touch with the grassroots.
“The FNM is going through their convention later this month,” he said. “I’m not a believer in a party copying another but I do believe the PLP should have a convention earlier than November. There is no doubt that the Prime Minister is going through a rough period in terms of government performance.
“There are challenges, challenges that I hope the government overcomes. But the fact is, since we haven’t had a convention since 2009, it’s questionable whether the present holders of the office in the PLP have positions that are constitutional.
“We need to look to try to embrace new, vibrant candidates and to re-examine every candidacy particularly in areas where we know the incumbent has problems. We should make a noble effort to try to make sure that the candidates have the aptitude, motive, conviction and intelligence to be able to address the problems facing the Bahamas.”
Initially, the convention was planned for November, 2015, but was rescheduled for April, 2016, because of the devastation left by Hurricane Joaquin in the Family Islands and recovery efforts, which were underway at the time.
The April date was then rescheduled until later this year to allow full attention to the June referendum on gender equality.