THE THEME of the PLP’s three-day convention, which ended in confusion on the final day, seemed to be that the country’s first political party must get back to its “core principles”. However, although everyone described much of what was lacking in today’s party, at no time during the conference did anyone enunciate the principles on which it was founded, nor where these principles have been hiding all of these years.
In fact, one wonders if at any point in the development of the PLP anyone had ever heard of the founders’ principles, although on October 26, 1953, a full page advertisement was published in The Tribune to state the party’s platform in full.
“The Progressive Liberal party adopts this platform in the conviction that the destiny of the Bahamian people is to build a country in which every citizen can obtain a higher standard of living in the promise of greater social and political freedom.
“We chart our course under the leadership of the Progressive Liberal Party in the abiding belief that it is dedicated to the service of all Bahamians and not to a privileged few, and will prove its superiority over all other parties.”
Sir Lynden Pindling was just winding down his studies in law in England in preparation for returning home and getting straight into politics. It was not too many years after that that all Bahamians heard about was the “one man’s dream”. And it was this “one man’s dream” that developed and grew and eventually led to the split in the PLP with the late Sir Wallace Whitfield going his own way with the eventual formation of the present FNM, and Henry Taylor, one of the three founders of the PLP before Sir Lynden Pindling returned from England and took over the party, declaring that in the PLP he had created a “monster” that had to be crushed. For a time Mr Taylor assisted the United Bahamian Party.
However, it was not long after that that the Pindling-Taylor quarrel was patched up, and in 1991 Mr Taylor became Sir Henry and the third Bahamian Governor General of The Bahamas.
Sir Lynden went on to win five consecutive elections, governing for 20 years, and ending with a country in much the same state that it is in today, with the same problems that we heard enunciated from the party platform last week.
From a party that was formed for the “service of all Bahamians and not for a privileged few” we had developed the “all for me, baby” privileged who belonged to the inner circle. We also heard from a PLP minister from a public platform during the Pindling era that “God gave this country to the PLP,” and another government minister declared that “I am only checking for the PLP.”
No, it was indeed a “One Man’s” dream, where there was no room for “all Bahamians” at the Master’s table.
In 1990, Sir Lynden, addressing a mass PLP rally in Oakes Field, commented that “the people of this country closed the old year in fear for their lives, for their personal safety, for their properties. We have an urgent responsibility to make this country a safer place in which to live.” Now 20 years later the words are the same.
Sir Lynden commented on many other problems – including cleanliness — but his emphasis was for the need of more discipline in the schools. He believed that teachers should be given more authority to discipline the students.
“We are falling back with so-called sophistication and not putting first things first,” he observed.
“One,” he told the crowd, “we’ve got to make our country the safest place. Two, we’ve got to make our county the cleanest place. Three, we’ve got to bring discipline and skills back into our children and people. And with all those things we will make our country great,” he said.
He had promised jobs and he failed to deliver. That is when in 1992 he lost his first election. During his years there was the same corruption that we have today. Little has changed – in some areas it has got progressively worse.
When it came time for the Christie government to win its first PLP election after ten years of the FNM, Mr Perry Christie knew that he could not promise the same old PLP, which was corrupt to the core. He won, because he made Bahamians believe that he had shed the cloak of the Pindling era and was leading a “new” PLP.
Ms Monique Pindling is to be congratulated for giving an honest critic of today’s PLP, but in doing so she could have been describing the party under her father. Today’s party is — as it was then – “dishonest” and has allowed over this long span of time the political ambitions of a “few men to dash the aspirations of a whole people.” She accused the party of straying from the values it once had — those values were lost very early in her father’s day – so don’t blame it all on Mr Christie.
It is now time for the PLP to sit down and find its core values and make them known to all.