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Insight: What If Mccartney Had Stayed The Course? Perhaps It’S Not Too Late . . .

The FNM, led by Hubert Minnis, centre, heading towards the House of Assembly last week
Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

The FNM, led by Hubert Minnis, centre, heading towards the House of Assembly last week Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

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Branville McCartney

By MALCOLM STRACHAN

LAST week’s spectacle in Parliament – a vote of no confidence becoming a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Minnis - was doubly disappointing. Not only did it serve as a sobering reminder of the political horror show that was the previous administration under then-Prime Minister Perry Christie, but it also reaffirmed the nature of Bahamian politics is the greatest impediment to our advancement as a nation.

Listening to the buffoonery and chicanery on display between the opposing parties, how can one not be deflated two-and-a-half years before election with no political faction seeming equipped to give this country exactly what it needs – 21st century leadership? Rather, the government would prefer to cozy up in its echo chamber, tuning out the cries of countless Bahamians who trusted this administration to bring change. And in Opposition, the leadership of Philip “Brave” Davis still causes many to shudder at flashbacks of the previous administration.

While the PLP has yet to prove itself of being worthy of another chance, their luck may be found in that a government has to reach at least an average standard to remain in good favour. Else, alternatives begin looking more attractive. As of right now, there isn’t much adulation for the Minnis administration.

Crime remains an issue and the recent uptick in violence begins to make last year’s incredible feat look like a fluke. The economy has suffered a setback at the hands of Hurricane Dorian, while the government’s handling of post-Dorian rebuilding efforts has been unimpressive. Add measures which increase the cost of living, and the Minnis administration has hit the Bahamian people where it hurts.

Yet, publicly, they still remain confident the electorate will return them to power in 2022. Perhaps this is why, over two years in office, their weapon of choice is to remind the Bahamian people of how terrible the PLP performed. While that may not be a bad political play for a party seeking a second term, it does not elevate the standard of government in this country.

If their most often used tactic is to attack the PLP, then what does it say about the sitting government? How can the Bahamian people be confident in them, if their confidence seems so shallow and insecure?

Such is the quagmire in Bahamian politics.

As much as the Bahamian people complain about the PLP and the FNM, we remain in this twisted, abusive love affair, apprehensively waiting to be whisked away by another party. Though, while we hear this often, the past two elections have shown that when it counts, the Bahamian people opt for the devil they know.

However, particularly after 2017, the voters are in a unique space – cynical of both major parties and seeking new leadership. Perhaps, some would say, this is the perfect opportunity for a third party to disrupt the status quo.

Reader poll

Do you have confidence in Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis?

  • Yes 47%
  • No 53%

213 total votes.

Yet, while the opportunity may be there, there doesn’t seem to be any takers.

In 2011, just under a year before the 2012 election, the Democratic National Alliance, founded by Branville McCartney, looked to be a viable alternative to our played out two-party system. Although most Bahamians, characteristically political creatures of comfort, were hesitant to take a chance on the new party, they were still able to walk away from the election with eight percent of the vote. Some would say this was a good start.

The DNA’s vision was to move The Bahamas into the 21st century, and certainly, they seemed to have some of the ingredients for success. Chief among them was their leader. A young, vibrant McCartney showed the courage to stand up to a fierce former prime minister in the likes of Hubert Ingraham, building a lot of buzz surrounding the party. They were also able to capture the attention of the young and old who wanted to see change – a very difficult thing to accomplish in an intensely cultish political climate.

Nevertheless, the Bahamian people would tell McCartney that 11 months was too little time to persuade the electorate.

Later, during the former government’s term, the DNA’s presence was also sparse, and they lost momentum while the opportunity was ripe to position itself as a better alternative. Failing to capitalise on conveying to the Bahamian people that since 2012 the party had become more seasoned and ready to lead, the DNA made fatal mistakes that led to it becoming a non-factor in the 2017 election. Crucially, McCartney’s decision to form an alliance with Loretta Butler-Turner may have been the misstep that torpedoed both of their political aspirations ahead of the 2017 election.

After an embarrassing showing at the polls and having stepped down as leader, McCartney manages to maintain his relevance by providing the media with the occasional interview. Still, one must wonder if his decision to step down as the party’s leader came prematurely, and, in effect, set the party back a few election cycles.

As much as he felt the DNA’s poor performance at the polls in 2017 was an indictment on his leadership, the sweeping majority of FNM parliamentarians voted in also showed the Bahamian people wanted to ensure Perry Christie’s political run ended.

Nonetheless, the DNA’s transition to leadership under Arinthia Komolafe – a bright young Bahamian woman revered by many – still leaves the party with little chance of breaking through the ceiling. While parts of our society has warmed to the idea of women in leadership, from a practical standpoint, we are a long way away from this becoming a reality in government – a disproportionately male dominated arena. And thus, Bahamians will likely once again be led by fear when it comes time to vote for their next government. The question is, though: “Whose leadership will we be more afraid of in 2022?” Will we still be suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from the Christie years? Or will things get so bad during the next two-and-a-half years under Prime Minister Minnis that our memories will become as fuzzy as “Brave” Davis?

We shall soon learn our fate.

Though, one thing is certain – much of what Branville McCartney outlined in a 2011 interview where he discussed the country’s need for a leadership alternative still exists today.

He said: “We’ve been in one direction for basically the last 40 years. Initially, our main issue in this election, as I said, is crime. Crime did not just develop over the last five years, it is something that has developed over many years... And both governments have been in power during that period of time. The same thing with illegal immigration, which is at its worst right now, in the history of The Bahamas.

“That is the result of successive governments not doing what they’re supposed to do. It’s the same thing with our educational system. Our educational system needs revamping. It’s not a system for the 21st century, and there are a lot of our students out there with D averages, unable to read and write, fill out resumes and application forms. But that’s the result of successive governments.”

Discussing the state of the economy, McCartney said: “Our economy is failing. It’s not working. We have no money — the country is broke. Successive governments have failed to diversify the economy... failed to provide opportunities for young Bahamians and failed to empower young Bahamians. Where we are now, the middle class is about to be extinct. Getting the Bahamian electorate to recognise that - that may be the challenge. There’s no doubt that this country needs a new direction and must be changed, but getting them to see that and change is always difficult.”

Eight years later, crime is still an issue. The middle class has all but vanished. Illegal immigration still vexes the masses of Bahamians. Our education system is still a challenge, and our economy is still dependent on tourism. And maybe most unfortunate, the Bahamian people still refuse to affect radical change in government.

Had McCartney stayed the course, who knows how promising the DNA’s chances would have been in 2022 with him and Komolafe at the helm?

Certainly, the third time may have been the charm.

As 2022 is not that far off, the DNA’s highest hurdle will be introducing a slate of candidates the voters can get behind, developing a platform that resonates with the populace, securing the funding to form an aggressive campaign for election and changing the Bahamian people’s views towards having a woman serve as prime minister.

Eight years since McCartney’s 2011 interview, the DNA can ask the Bahamian people a very serious question: “Where do you want to be in another decade?”

Indeed, the DNA should not underestimate what the next two-and-a-half years can mean for its party’s legacy and our national history, as it can be a game changer for Bahamian politics.

Just as much as Komolafe’s, McCartney’s leadership and experience will be essential to their party’s success.

Comments

John 1 year, 4 months ago

The common thought among many Bahamians is that the Bahamian Government, including the prime minister,are middle management of just mere puppets of external forces whose wishes and demands become priority once a government is elected. And the needs and wishes of the Bahamian people are negligible. So Branville staying the course and getting elected will not change anything. He may be less compromised than one or two of the former prime ministers or even the current one. And there’s great concern that governments revenue vis a vis increased taxes has tripled in five years with no corresponding improvement in the standard of living or reductions in the country’s debt. So they continue to ask ‘ where is the money going?’ , or ‘who t’ief it?’ And , despite his credentials or acclamations, the right question is can he find a team of qualified candidates, ones who will stay the course and not lose their way, or can he play an effective one man band like Hubert Ingraham. One opinion is real change in The Bahamas, and more particularly The Bahamian Government will come when qualified, Bahamians with education and experience and Nuevo wealth start returning home ‘en masse’ and can stand up against the old guard and other forces and garner a new and uncompromising and effective government. The must take control of the country’s natural resources. Protect its boarders against illegal immigrants and poaching and ensure that the country’s wealth does not continue to be frittered away or traded unequivocally for debt.

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SP 1 year, 4 months ago

HA, You must be joking, "Qualified, Bahamians with education and experience and Nuevo wealth" have absolutely no interest in returning to this corrupt banana republic! It is far easier for them to invest and live abroad than to even begin considering uprooting the Bay Street and Sun Shine boys groups of pirates.

The Bahamas has been a den of piracy for 100's of years and as long as the PLP or FNM are in power NOTHING WILL CHANGE!

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 4 months ago

Looking for Bran to be the saviour is not the way. Have we forgotten that he left the FNM after a tiff with Ingraham? That he went to make a deal with Loretta unbeknowst to his own party? Then he showed up with a Senate appointment? I dont think he would function any better than Minnis. We need depth. Youth, passion, curly hair and good looks are great but they only feed the person who gat the gift. We have 40,000 unemployed, 10,000 displaced hungry people who need a leader with substance, depth and grand ideas who will not at the same time double the cost of living

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 4 months ago

A picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Just look at that corrupt bunch of incompetent clowns in The Trib's photo above.

"Yes", corrupt tweedle-dumb Minnis must go.....that's now a simple given.

But "No", Bran is definitely not the man.

And, in case you're wondering, that short pudgy fella with the stubby grubby dirty yellow sticky fingers is a complete non-starter!

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birdiestrachan 1 year, 4 months ago

Dishonest Strachan The political horror show was not PLP . but it is FNM. The PLP did many things. Urban renewal is Christie. BAMSI and BAH MAR The university of the Bahamas which doc has not made free even for those who can afford to pay.

What has the FNM done right besides increased taxes on the poor and made the rich richer e.g.Symonette.. The FNM lies. no one can believe anything that comes out of their mouths. remember doc. ho says he is going East , when he knows he is going West. just lie and lie \some more.

Pretty boy Granville has no magic wand. He is no wonder boy, If he was he would have saved The DNA. Strachan you are grasping at Strachan as your party sinks deeper into the abyss. and you can take that to the bank.

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SP 1 year, 4 months ago

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, "WHAT IF" Lynden Pindling, Hubert Ingraham, and Perry Christie were not corrupt and actually cared more about Bahamians than Haitians and others!

First and foremost our population would be about 155,000, the standards of education, health care, social services, and security would be the best in the region, we would be among the strongest banking sectors in the world, there would be over employment instead of massive unemployment and no need for a high crime rate!

The Bahamas is only 40 miles off the U.S. mainland but among the 6th most expensive countries in the world to live in but we cannot keep the lights on, street signs are practically non-existant, crime is off the charts, our people have been all but totally devoured by poverty caused by rising unemployment, while Haitians, Asians, Latinos, Africans, and many, many, others live off the fat of the land sending remittances to home countries to support families build houses, and start businesses.

http://worldpopulationreview.com/coun...">http://worldpopulationreview.com/coun...

We joined the U.S. and instantly jumped on the "war against drugs" wagon with-out any thought whatsoever, and now find ourselves still self-shackled there "pondering" long after the U.S. and others abandoned the initiative, and changed course to capitalize on its profits. Too self-righteous to get out of our own way!

https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-...">https://www.visualcapitalist.com/the-...

We allowed collaborative political corruption across party lines to run so deep that passing Freedom Of Information legislation is totally impossible because too many of the so-called "elite" would end up in prison where they belong!

"WHAT IF" we the people took the next voting opportunity to say enough is enough and did WHATEVER IT TAKES to get rid of the PLP and FNM, demand 60 years of political accountability and change the course of our country to actually benefit Bahamians?

"WHAT IF" is a loaded question that speaks volumes!

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