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Residents Back Robinson

MP for Bain and Grants Town Travis Robinson.

MP for Bain and Grants Town Travis Robinson.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FREE National Movement officials feel betrayed by Travis Robinson’s vote against value added tax’s increase to 12 percent, but many residents of the Bain & Grants Town constituency are standing by their member of Parliament, telling The Tribune he owes his success to them, not to a party.

Mr Robinson, pictured, was fired as parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation yesterday for breaching Westminster protocols that require parliamentary secretaries to fully support a government’s priorities.

His firing was a stunning and unlikely development for a 24-year-old who epitomised the FNM’S promotion of youth during last year’s general election campaign where he had received prime speaking slots during rallies and attracted more cheers and applause than many senior FNM officials when he spoke. 

He now loses a $45,000 annual salary and the perks that come with the job, such as a car and a government cell phone. As an MP, he still makes a salary of $28,000 a year. 

Once identified as the future of the FNM, his own future in the party is now unclear. Privately, party officials said he owed them loyalty, noting their investment in him was such that his campaign was fully financed at the party’s request, frustrating others who sought financial help.

Carlyle Bethel, president of the FNM’s youth arm, the Torchbearers Association, emphasised yesterday that the FNM’s embrace of youth was highlighted not only in Mr Robinson’s selection as a candidate last year, but also in the selection of Central and South Abaco MP James Albury and Long Island MP Adrian Gibson, among others.  

“There are a number of young people that stepped forward and I believe the party is still committed to promoting young people,” Mr Bethel said. “There’s always two sides to a story. We can understand where Travis is coming from, but we can also appreciate why the prime minister made his decision.”

Among those grappling with Mr Robinson’s decision, however, is Matthew Brown, vice-chairman of the FNM’s Bain & Grants Town Association who said Mr Robinson did not consult the association before announcing his opposition to the VAT hike during his budget speech last week. He called Mr Robinson’s action a betrayal of parliamentary ethics and insisted the association stands fully behind Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis and the vision of his government.

The relationship between Mr Robinson and the party’s association, he said, had been strained sometimes, suggesting the MP’s decision not to consult them on VAT was not without precedent. 

Meanwhile, residents of the constituency criticised a Westminster system that required Mr Robinson to resign from his government position or be fired, calling for it to be changed.  

“Not because you say the sky is blue means I must believe the same thing,” said Crystal Colebrooke, 23. “I have to look up and come to my own conclusion. The system shouldn’t be the way it is. There should be freedom of speech.”

Like 66-year-old Patsy Johnson, an owner of a small store in the constituency, Ms Colebrooke believes the FNM’s rare victory there last year will not be repeated in 2022. 

“People didn’t vote for the FNM,” she said. “We voted because we were tired of the PLP. If a dog did run against the PLP, that dog would have gotten in because we wanted change. But I don’t think I will vote again. They always doing foolishness.”

She added: “Travis grew up with no money. He for the people. He know about struggle. The rest of them don’t.”

Ms Johnson, meanwhile, said she is a lifelong supporter of the PLP who voted for the FNM for the first time last year.

“I will not vote for the FNM anymore,” she said. “They only gon’ serve one term. They fire Travis and the same way they did that we gon’ fire them next time.”

It’s still unclear how Mr Robinson’s decision will affect his future in the constituency. Residents like Freddy Johnson, 47, said the MP’s popularity has been waning in the area. “Many people don’t like him because he don’t do anything for us,” he said. 

FNM officials like Mr Brown insist that as opposed to voting against VAT, Mr Robinson should have explained to residents what the benefits of the budget are, such as its $5 million allocation for the Over-the-Hill initiative, exemptions for real property tax and select customs duties and VAT exemptions on bread-basket items. But many residents of the area are unconvinced such concessions will offset the general increase of VAT.

Asked about the Over-the-Hill plan, Ms Colebrooke said: “That ain gon’ do anything for nobody. How long will it take for that to make any impact?” 

Likewise, Ms Johnson said the VAT exemptions don’t solve the community’s fundamental problem: a lack of money for basic necessities. “People around here don’t have food to eat,” she said. “Everyday I give people here food out of my shop.”

Kevin Wilson, 51, added: “You still got to find the money, you still have to hustle hard. If you can’t get money, exemptions won’t help you.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months ago

Minnis and the FNM party will now go about making political life as miserable as possible for each of the four FNM MPs who were compelled to vote both their conscience and the very strongly expressed sentiments of their constituents. Arrogant Minnis and the FNM party will conveniently forget that they nominated these four MPs to run for elected office a little over a year ago and that each of them invested great time and energy in successfully campaigning for their seats. The vindictiveness and arrogance of Minnis is such that he will ensure these four FNM MPs are prevented from accomplishing anything for their constituents by means of the public purse. I would encourage all four of these brave FNM MPs (Robinson, Miller, McAlpine, and Chipman) to officially become independents at the earliest possible time recognizing that it will not be long before they are joined by other FNM MPs who, like them, and like the vast majority of voters throughout the country today, are most unhappy with Minnis's dismal leadership.

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ThisIsOurs 3 months ago

This is what the economics students should keep in mind, they will flaunt their support of "young" people while you "cute" and "young", when you show you have a brain and an independent voice, it's later for you. It's really a very bad trait for leadership and the seeds of a totalitarian dictatorship.

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joeblow 3 months ago

I hope he consolidates the support of his constituents to become a thorn in Minnis's side! May we see more principled stands from the young among us!

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realfreethinker 3 months ago

He would have impressed me if he had resigned and then voted no. He knew once he voted no he could not remain in his position. So what about the constituents who supported the gov budget. He did not speak for them.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months ago

This young man Travis was totally blind sided by the 60% hike in VAT from 7.50% to 12%, as were many other FNM MPs and the entire Bahamian voting public. He and many other MPs were unmercifully placed in a "no win" situation by the failure of Minnis and Turnquest to consult with leading local VAT experts and representatives of the business sector, as well as their abject failure to educate the public in advance on the reasoning behind their belief that such an enormous tax increase will not put our country and its middle and lower income people in a vicious tail spin for the worse. No, make no mistake about it - this young politician Travis was thrown under the bus by a most arrogant and vindictive PM.

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tell_it_like_it_is 3 months ago

Oh please, let's get real. How many people in his constituency do you think actually supported a VAT hike? rofl

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licks2 3 months ago

That's the point . . . I don't know and nor do you know. . .yet you have decided to take a position that you normally take no matter what the evidence shows!

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licks2 3 months ago

I do wonder why he did not try and work with his constituency association and went and make a decision on his own? I guess he felt that he did not need them anymore. . .to bad. . .it was a good show . . .but you can't cry principle when he did not resigned after his stance. . .did not consult with his party association about his stance. . .he did not consult with his party. . .what is going on with that young man. . .

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months ago

You of all posters to this site would ask:

"What is going on with that young man.....?"

Well, I could tell you, but why would I want to waste my time with something way beyond your ability to comprehend.

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licks2 3 months ago

You record and mine are on this site. . .level headed reasoning approaches are way out of your way. . .whether by " political choice" or inability to reason I don't know. . .but you are not responding because I will not be able to comprehend your position. . .it is more like you will only come from a politically childish position and I will rip it apart and show you your poor reasoning approach!!

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Greentea 3 months ago

Why didn't he consult them? Because the association just follows the party directive - ie. no discussion and was in the MINORITY in the community. Do you honestly think people in Bain Town can afford a VAT hike? When last you drive through there? I am so sick of dumb azz Bahamians. Take a drive through the constituencies these fellas representing- These people STRUGGLIN' - Whether he resigned or was fired don't mean a dam thing. He knew the result going in. He doesn't represent the association- he represents the people! And most of them ain't in no association and most of them aint want a VAT hike.

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licks2 3 months ago

Again you make very little sense. . .the association is the people. . .his party people! As for driving through the area and determining how much the people ave by what you see is sooooooooooooooo asinine it een funny!! Driving through that area will also show you school children wearing top name brands clothes, persons driving hummers, and most top line cars. . .mostly new and in good condition. . .young men hanging out in the streets wearing top line clothes, large and expensive chains, rings and cell phones. Also go to the two major food stores that they normally shop. . .you will see the large amount of food they are carrying into those areas. You don't know those areas. . .

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TalRussell 3 months ago

Rather than ma comrade red shirts putting on what they must know is a FAKE festive spirit over the strong man's authoritarian regime's style in how firings four younger red shirts MP's were executed - they shouldn't be so mute on why such a large contingent "seven" red shirts MP's had be marked absent after staging "12% standoff tactics" to be out their House seats when vote taking time arrived.... How much more FAKE can it get than to have Comrade Renward in charge House disciplining... give the 91,409 voting red shirts 10th May, 2017, a F__ break.

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