By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
FORMER Progressive Liberal Party Cabinet minister Loftus Roker told The Tribune yesterday that he voted against his party in the MICAL constituency on Wednesday out of respect for the country.
Mr Roker, who served in the Pindling era, has spent much of the last three years speaking out against the flaws of the Christie administration.
Speaking to The Tribune from his home in Acklins yesterday, Mr Roker said that while he respects the work of former Prime Minister Perry Christie during his time in public office, the alleged corruption that happened on his watch brought The Bahamas to a “new low”.
To that end, Mr Roker said the people of The Bahamas repaid Mr Christie in kind.
“Well, he is the first prime minister to ever lose his seat and be pushed into retirement so strongly,” the former minister of immigration said.
“That is also a new low. When you lose touch with the people generally, they lose confidence in you and they show you exactly how they feel in the way that they vote.”
“That is what I did to Mr (V Alfred) Gray on Wednesday and I love my party and what it stands for.
“Mr Gray had to go because he was not honest with the people (in MICAL). I, like many, didn’t vote for the FNM. I voted to send a message to the core of the PLP. Message sent,” he said.
In December 2015, Mr Roker declared that it was time for Mr Christie, 73, to step aside and “open up the field” for new leaders. He did so as he suggested that present day politicians had warped the structure of the country’s “true system of governance” in favour of a “party based system that rewards loyalty to nonsense.”
Mr Roker at the time warned that “anarchy and chaos, the likes of which we have never seen” would soon play out across the country, as a result of voters now becoming aware of the truth. Yesterday, when reminded of his claims, Mr Roker chuckled and said he had to speak truth to power.
Mr Christie represented the area of Centreville, which in 1977 was Farm Road. He lost his seat on Wednesday in a humiliating defeat to FNM candidate Reece Chipman.
Meanwhile Maurice Moore, considered to be one of the founding fathers of the Free National Movement, said the FNM’s landslide win signalled the “ushering in” of a new age of Bahamian identity.
He said the margin by which the FNM unseated the PLP marks a “message of change.”
The FNM won 35 out of 39 seats in the House of Assembly, many of them considered to be PLP strongholds. Of the four seats captured by the PLP, only one was in New Providence.
“Voters presented a stamp on Wednesday,” Mr Moore said. “They served notice to not only Christie, but everyone coming in with the FNM. This is serious work and foolishness will not be accepted. The leaders of the PLP underestimated the young people of this country. They could see as clear as day the PLP taking this country down a road of blatant corruption.
“The PLP failed in a manner in which they had nothing to come with to the people. Their leadership failed. They were trying to do a lot of things, but were not able to get anything consummated. I expected a win by the FNM, but I didn’t expect the FNM to win by such a large margin.”
Mr Moore said the results brought him comfort, adding that he could now walk away from the political arena as a “contented soldier.”
“My people are awake again. They are focused and prepared to take that next step. You can’t spit in the face of the voters and expect good treatment in return any more. You have to earn your keep as a politician. Our democracy grew stronger on Wednesday,” he concluded.
One local political commentator said the PLP’s wipe out signals a new era for Bahamian politics and national development.
Admitting his shock at the party’s margin of defeat yesterday, Dr Christopher Curry, the chair of the School of Social Science at the University of The Bahamas, said the results of the 2017 general election served as an indictment of the legacy and work of Mr Christie.
Dr Curry said Wednesday’s results will now stand as a “remarkable study” of the Bahamian electorate and how it addresses governance and political structure in the Bahamas. He added that the “loud and clear” statement made by voters is unlike anything seen before in the country’s independent history.
“This went beyond portfolios, personalities, legacies and policies. It would suffice to say Mr Christie lost the entire nation and his entire team bore the brunt of the blow,” Dr Curry, who through his position at the university has taken a prominent role in national discussion on politics and development, told The Tribune.
“These results show that he could no longer move the desires and hopes of the people. He stayed on one term too many and refused to see what the people were showing him,” he added.
Dr Curry said the former prime minister’s inaction on crime, in addition to economic strife and the mounting global anti-establishment sentiment, all culminated in the “perfect wave.”
“It became a whirlwind of failures and in a short time, it all became apparent that nothing was being done to correct these things,” Dr Curry said.
Dr Curry said the perception of the Christie administration - claims of corruption and financial mismanagement - had grown to levels to where “arguments of truth and facts could not change minds.” He said the claims of “corruption and scandal” which plagued both Christie administrations, 2002-2007 and 2012-2017, became the “calling card” for all associated with the party.
He said voters on Wednesday “clearly chose” not to look beyond this particular factor.