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Insight: A Leopard Can’T Change Its Spots

Philip ‘Brave’ Davis speaks after being elected PLP Leader. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

Philip ‘Brave’ Davis speaks after being elected PLP Leader. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff

By MALCOLM STRACHAN

AFTER a tumultuous PLP convention, a “new” official leader has emerged. No longer in the shadow of the tarnished legacy of Perry Christie, Philip ‘Brave’ Davis, is now finally in charge of the nation’s oldest political party… for now.

Although Mr Davis seems to be reading his script in all of its crafted eloquence, everyone knows that the former prime minister still has his hand resting firmly on the pulse of the party he once led for two decades.

He alluded to this much when he reiterated that he will be there to offer his service if Mr Davis should need him to. It is certainly wondrous that Mr Christie would expect anyone to welcome his advice after being characterised as the country’s “worst prime minister” by fellow PLP Philip Galanis. This viewpoint is widely shared by Bahamians throughout the islands. Leslie Miller, known for not withholding punches, has on more than one occasion shared a similar perspective whenever he discusses their election loss.

Even before Mr Christie’s political existence came to an end on Election Day, the rumblings were there. Both the gaming and gender equality referenda foreboded what was to come. The Bahamian people were itching for the opportunity to fire Mr Christie and his PLP government.

One would think that the PLP would have been able to take note of the signs. They had an opportunity to replace Mr Christie in January when Alfred Sears challenged him for leadership of the party. Many Bahamians from across the political divide liked Mr Sears’ platform and his views on moving the country forward.

His plans and ideas were truly a breath of fresh air. However, the PLP, a party drunk off power and cushioned by the legacy of the late Sir Lynden Pindling, could not see the path it was moving towards. Instead of replacing Mr Christie as leader, Mr Sears was crushed at convention, getting a mere 169 votes to Mr Christie’s 1,264.

Evidently, the PLP did not learn its lesson, but would be taught a much more valuable one just a few months later.

The Bahamian people told the former prime minister that he wore out his welcome. Mr Christie had big dreams, but was malnourished in form of actions. An adept word-slinger, known for talking circles around even himself, Mr Christie talked a big game about his vision for The Bahamas – but ran the country into the ground.

Now, after suffering its most humbling defeat yet, the party is back to its old tricks of hiring consultants to spew its hollow rhetoric with hopes of making fools out of the populace once again.

You can hear it: a whole lot of talk about “new,” “rebranding”, “repenting” etcetera, but what evidence is there of any of this based on the results of this convention?

Mr Davis served as Mr Christie’s deputy during this last tumultuous term in office. Since becoming leader, Mr Davis has somehow forgotten pertinent details to some of the incriminatory issues surrounding the PLP’s term, even going so far as to suggest that he was being kept “out of the loop” on critical government matters.

While we understand the desire to distance himself from the ugly truth of his party’s recent past, it is quite doubtful that Mr Davis’ memory is as poor as he demonstrates it to be. Else, we would have much more serious problems on our hands if he were to ever become prime minister. For now, as the leader of a party still stubborn in its ways, Mr Davis is planning to spread the party’s “new” message across the length and breadth of the archipelago.

We still struggle to understand why the PLP continues waste millions of dollars paying foreigners for a consultation the Bahamian citizens are willing to do for free. It is what is said over and repeatedly in various social circles. It is what was stated on both referenda under the PLP’s last term. Most notably, it is what we, the Bahamian people, said when we marked our Xs on May 10, 2017.

If we weren’t buying it then, why would we buy it now when it’s obvious they are once again, only saying what they think we want to hear. How can you in one breath admit that you recognise your faults, but in another, offer up the same people that the electorate removed from office? The leadership battle between the two surviving members of the Christie administration’s Cabinet was emblematic that the stalwarts have not a clue, and neither does Mr Davis, if he truly wants the party to become the government again.

Ready to Govern

Perry Christie, while enjoying his freedom, has had the time to ponder not only his future, but also that of the PLP. He insinuated that the party ought to be ready to lead the country again because of the electorate’s proclivity to change government’s after only one term. This phenomenon has existed since 2002 when Mr Christie first became prime minister.

His sentiments are either indicative of his doubt of the Minnis administration or cements the notion that he truly doesn’t understand what happened during the election. The Bahamian people were fed up with the style of governance where their cries fell on deaf ears.

They were tired of being sold dreams and empty promises. They wanted to eradicate Mr Christie and his school of politics – the “touch one, touch all” brand of politics, where the most egregious transgressions were allowed in the interest of protecting “the party”.

If those in power within the PLP truly want to see the party become the government again, there are a few realities that they must consider.

For one, sensible voters require a sustainable platform of governance. What good is it to play political ping-pong with the country with no government ever moving the needle on the issues? In this case, the only winners are those who take advantage of the five years in office spent filling their coffers; much like what we saw the last time they were in government.

Yet, despite superficial acknowledgements of wrong-doing, none of the tainted parliamentarians have been fired. In fact, the PLPs newly crowned leader has given his ardent support of the accused.

Mr Davis clearly cares more about saving his political hide and covering his tent than right and wrong.

True leadership requires the selflessness to put others above yourself and the humility to realise, not only when mistakes have been made, but also to take the steps necessary to correct them. It also demands that the intelligence of the electorate is acknowledged.

Further, the digital age that we live in makes it incumbent on leaders to be more accountable in terms of what they say. South Andros MP Picewell Forbes had to learn this lesson the hard way after reading a carbon copy of Monique Pindling’s speech, when months earlier he passionately defended the party’s disastrous record.

They honestly can’t help themselves. A genuine understanding of their errors in government would not allow for the urge to defend their record. Moreover, the incessant pandering leading up to the convention and through its duration is doubly insulting.

The PLP would be seen much differently if they showed the capability to simply listen to Bahamians. It is because of this that we wonder if the party’s early success as the government for 25 years has made it unable to listen to the voice of the common man.

However, “Brave” Davis claims that the party is prepared to hear the grievances of the Bahamian people and is open to addressing the issues within the party.

Somehow, they are still missing the mark.

The PLP had a golden opportunity to show the Bahamian people they are serious about leading this country if ever given the opportunity again. To bet on Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ failure is quite a gamble. As a wise man once told me, “don’t plant corn in another man’s rain”.

By not taking advantage of the opportunity to clean house and realign, the Progressive Liberal Party on the foundation of its core principles, they have shown us that they do not want to put in the work required to lead this country again.

For The Bahamas to truly succeed we need a strong government and an even stronger opposition to keep them in line. Therefore, we hope the call for new leaders to emerge from within the PLP is recognised and not stifled by those that hold the power at the top. Our democracy depends on it, whether we like it or not.

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