By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
LONG Island MP Loretta Butler-Turner yesterday lambasted Prime Minister Perry Christie for “refusing” to step down as leader of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), accusing Mr Christie of staying in politics far beyond his “use by effective date”.
Mrs Butler-Turner, a guest on the Island Luck TV show The Stew, said Mr Christie “refuses to exit, even though people are pushing, shoving him out the door, and he’s still flailing to stay on the stage”.
Mrs Butler-Turner also said it is an “indictment” on Mr Christie’s legacy to suggest that his existence is the only thing that holds the PLP together, as she stressed that “effective leaders are not afraid to create a succession of leaders behind them”.
And as she excoriated Mr Christie for his decision to stay on as PLP leader, Mrs Butler-Turner also commended former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham for announcing that he will not accept a nomination for a position at this week’s Free National Movement convention even if he is nominated.
Mrs Butler-Turner also said the issue of term limits for Prime Ministers is something that should be decided by way of a constitutional referendum should she become the nation’s leader.
Her comments were in response to Mr Christie’s controversial announcement last week that he will continue to lead the PLP in the foreseeable future, citing the support of young members of his government and a desire to ensure party stability.
Mr Christie also suggested that instability would arise in the party if he were no longer leader, similar to what is occurring in the Official Opposition.
“It’s an indictment on him, for the 40 plus years he has been in public service, to say that there is nobody that can hold his organisation together as well as he does,” Mrs Butler-Turner said.
“He’s failed. He’s failed in the eyes of his organisation, he’s failed in the eyes of his people, because an effective leader not only leads but they create leaders that come behind them.”
Conversely, Mrs Butler-Turner commended Mr Ingraham, Mr Christie’s former law partner and colleague, for recently committing to “remain retired” in the face of widespread speculation that he would return to frontline politics. Mrs Butler-Turner said Mr Ingraham’s announcement “speaks strongly to what we see in the status quo today”.
“When you stay beyond your use by effective date, people effectively turn off,” Mrs Butler-Turner said. “Mr Ingraham is setting a precedent that clearly shows that not only has he been effective in his time, he knows now that he can be effective in another capacity. Because you never want people to say ‘listen, you’re expired, time to go’. And this is what we’re faced with today.”
She added: “That that speaks strongly to what we see in the status quo today. We have a leader today who refuses to exit, even though people are pushing, shoving him out the door, and he’s still flailing to stay on the stage.”
On the issue of prime ministerial term limits, she said: “I think that that is certainly a discussion and a dialogue that the Bahamian people should have, except that we would certainly take that to a constitutional type consultation,” she said. “Absolutely, because we’re under the Westminster system. Our system is not like the United States of America.
“Furthermore, I personally cannot see myself at the age where I am wanting to be around where someone is saying to me, ‘we’re tired of you, you’ve done what you could, you’re best years are behind you, please, make a graceful exit.’ But the bigger picture here is that effective leaders are not afraid to create a succession of leaders behind them.”
Mr Christie, while in opposition, said he would consider stepping down as party leader at mid-term and name a successor. However, he later said those comments were misconstrued and he intended to serve a full term if elected in 2012.
Last September, amid speculation that Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis was eyeing a leadership run, Mr Christie declared that he would go into the PLP’s convention as leader and emerge as leader.
The party’s convention is scheduled for November after several delays. The PLP has not held a convention since 2009, even though the party is mandated by its constitution to hold one each year.