By SANCHESKA DORSETT
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION Leader Philip “Brave” Davis called Exuma MP Chester Cooper’s evaluation of the Progressive Liberal Party’s election defeat “a newbie assessment” and - while accepting some of the critique - likened him to a child who tells the truth, no matter the cost.
While addressing PLP supporters Monday night at a monthly Yamacraw meeting, the interim PLP leader emphasised the Official Opposition is “down but not out” and Mr Davis said he is certain that the PLP “will return to governance.”
Last month, Mr Cooper, in a speech before the PLP’s National Progressive Institute said the party lost the recent election for many reasons.
The first time MP said the party ignored scandals and condoned behaviour it should not have.
He also said the party lost touch with the people it most sought to help. Although Mr Cooper said the PLP made contributions that the country will come to appreciate in the future, his speech was striking for its criticisms of the organisation.
On Monday night, Mr Davis said he understands the road ahead for the PLP “is not an easy one” and indicated the leadership of the party will “embark on a listening tour” throughout the Bahamas in the coming months.
“PLP’s, we are down, but not out; chastised, but not rejected as this election loss is not unchartered waters for the PLP. We will return to the governance of this country. That much is certain...How do we win again? How do we regain the support of public officers, our major labour unions, our millennials, and the next generation?” he asked.
“Who will take our party’s positive message into the highways and byways to regain what has been eroded over time? Chester has gotten some criticism for his dissection of the general election’s aftermath. For my part, I call it a ‘newbie’s assessment’. Do any of you have children who, no matter how well you think you are doing, they tell you the truth? “They give it to you straight. You may be upset in the first instance, but when you look at circumstances with their optics, you see it – even if the light is painfully bright.
“Notwithstanding that light, Chester’s chief summation is true. ‘Despite our shortcomings, history will judge us fairly… we helped many, we tackled key issues, we left the Bahamas, as a whole, better than it was in 2012.’ Still, our work must start from the foundation and now. This is the age of social media. Whoever gets the best message, the best alternatives for good governance out fastest and clearest will win in 2022.”
He also said: “The road ahead is not an easy one. That is why our leadership team will embark on a listening tour. In the coming months, we will constructively engage our Bahamians from Abaco in the north to Inagua in the south. We hear your demand to be fully engaged every step of the way. As such, we go back to the basics, carrying out this exercise that is critical to servant leadership.”
Mr Davis also criticised the Free National Movement (FNM) and its leader Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis for “fostering division” and villainising PLP members and supporters under the guise of cleaning up corruption.
“The ‘new sheriff’ has gone to great lengths to foster division, painting our Bahamas as a corrupt nation in the international arena, with no thought as to the consequences,” Mr Davis said.
“Many of you, like many other Bahamians, must be deeply concerned and personally offended by what many Bahamians view as political persecution, political intimidation and victor’s justice being meted out against the PLP and played out in the media under the guise of ‘cleaning up corruption’ by this FNM administration.
“This should come as no surprise though. This is a typical action in the FNM’s playbook. They like to demonise, scandalise, and villainise...I received many calls from citizens who have expressed deep concern that our system of democracy, undergirded by the prevalence of the rule of law, is under vicious attack. They dislike the methods they liken to the ones used by dictators, despots and tyrants, who eventually destroyed their countries. Tactics like jailing opposition members, and firing or casting aside perceived opposition supporters.”
Mr Davis urged PLP members and supporters to “be strong in the face of a purely political exercise designed to demonise our party, demoralise us, and weaken our political resolve.”