By Malcolm Strachan
WITH PLPs across the spectrum of the archipelago gearing up for its convention, which begins today, the rhetoric coming out of the party suggest there is a “new perspective” emanating from the party. Much of this is what is being purported by the youth movement in the PLP with the hopes that it would resonate with millennials who were mostly responsible for the Progressive Liberal Party’s resounding rejection on May 10.
Somehow though, there seems to be a disconnect. As we are mere moments away from the party’s convention, we still find many faces from the party that was annihilated on election day are still present.
Certainly, there must be a disconnect or miscommunication of some sort between what was delineated by the Bahamian people and what the PLP claims to have understood through its defeat. With the surviving members of the party that make up the Official Opposition doing so by the skin of their teeth, it is clear the voting public was on a mission to rid this country of the entire party.
Any fair-minded person should be able to gather this was evidence of a people not wanting to deal with a group of people any longer.
That being said, the PLP’s messaging is only a feeble-kneed attempt to create excitement and galvanize their base – many of whom did not vote for the PLP during the last election.
The question now is: Has the party done enough to show it has truly changed and charted a different path forward? The answer to that question is simply, no.
Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, the former Deputy Prime Minister under the Christie Administration, inherited interim leadership of the party and is seen as the front-runner to become the official leader once the convention dust settles.
His challenger, former Minister of Transport and Aviation, Glennys Hanna-Martin has the tall task of trying to become the first female party leader in a culture that has unfortunately not shown its readiness for female leadership. Aside from creating excitement from some of the more open-minded within the party, there is little hope she will be successful in her leadership bid.
Thus far as Opposition Leader, Brave has left us questioning if he is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s with his conveniently selective memory on the many damning revelations coming out of the Ministry of Works under his tenure as the minister with responsibility of that portfolio. This is strikingly similar to the Christie Administration’s way of answering to the people who voted them in – deniability and lack of recollection. This certainly seems as if it’s taken from the same playbook the former leader used until his political demise, and not as the party is branding it’s convention, “A New Perspective.”
It simply sounds as if they are just putting together more ‘catchy’ wordplay, spending loads of money on the glitz and glamour and the entertainment side to simply repackage the same empty, self-serving vision and mark up the price in the resale of this dream to the Bahamian people. The Bahamian people simply can’t afford to buy in to the same Progressive Liberal Party vision of yesteryear.
They tried to kill that brand of politics on May 10. We said we no longer want to see the same faces spewing out the same nonsense. Yet, the likes of Bradley Roberts, Fred Mitchell, Minky Isaacs, Allyson Maynard-Gibson and Obie Wilchcombe have caught the headlines of the local publications on multiple occasions as if they are still seemingly relevant at a time when they should not be.
Did the PLP not understand what was being communicated to them? Rather, did they even care to begin with? The latter question would certainly be consistent with the way they governed the country during 2012-2017. Our economy plummeted. Crime skyrocketed, along with the cost of living, and we watched an elitist government live ‘high off the hog’ to our peril.
To regurgitate the same personalities under the brand of ‘a new perspective’ is insulting, and a clear sign that nothing was learned after the election loss. Fred Mitchell, may have said it best in his statement the day after the election, where, in true ‘Fred-fashion’, he was as condescending as could be in his analysis of why his party lost. In so many words, he blamed it on the ignorance of an electorate that was tricked into believing social media propaganda promoted by the Free National Movement.
And where was Brave Davis, the party’s leader in waiting, after those statements that set social media on fire?
In absolute silence.
As a matter of fact, one of the only people from within the party who went on the record publicly to challenge those sentiments was Exuma and Ragged Islands MP, Chester Cooper, who is running for Deputy Leader. Surely you would recall how his statements of acceptance of the party’s failures and what they needed to do going forward were met with disdain among some of the old-guard in the party; among them Philip Davis.
Say what you will of Chester Cooper’s well-received statements among the public, the party will go as its leader goes. His candidacy for Deputy Leader is suggestive more than anything else. It simply implies to someone gullible enough that the party has changed. However, with Davis most likely affirming his position as leader at the end of the convention, the party will be the same as it was.
This leaves the question: What do the PLP need to do to truly revamp their party?
For starters, they need to listen to the Bahamian people, and truly see themselves as servant leaders. This is where they failed in the past. They conducted the country’s business as if they were doing the Bahamian people a favour, while they went about on a crusade of self-enrichment. As we look at the timeline of the country, it is heartbreaking to see where we’ve come to and the fact that we’ve entrusted our hopes and dreams for this country we love to men and women who exploited it is nothing short of an egregious disservice.
Everyone associated with the Christie Administration should have apologized to the Bahamian people and stepped down. The party has essentially set itself back even further by not undertaking a true rebuild. This patch-work convention is more public relations than it is any indicator of change.
Unless a complete bungling of governance takes place under the Minnis Administration, the chances that the PLP lose again in 2022 are very high. Then the party will again have to go back to the drawing board again with a base more fractured than it was to begin with. These men and women don’t see it, but their own selfishness is what is destroying the party they claim devotion and service to.
The reality is that anytime you place service to a political party above the Bahamian flag, you are on a fool’s errand. Politics is just a microcosm of what we should truly be engaging in, which is promoting the betterment of The Bahamas for all, not just a few.
It is ensuring the country is left in the capable hands of a future that we are grooming today. It’s not a struggle to retain power for personal advancement.
When those things get lost in translation, you have what the PLP have – a misguided party holding on to the residue of a historic foundation, but unraveling at the seams because of the greed of a few.