By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Progressive Liberal Party’s desire to run new candidates in the next general election is on a collision course with the ambitions of former parliamentarians such as Leslie Miller who expect to be nominated in 2022.
The PLP’s Candidates Committee is far from finalising decisions about 2022 nominees, but The Tribune understands Mr Miller is among a number of former MPs who are unlikely to be nominated again –– a possibility that unsettles the former Tall Pines representative.
Mr Miller, 70, said yesterday: “I ain’ going nowhere. I intend to be the candidate for Tall Pines, that’s what the people want. Talk to them, FNMs included, and people will tell you. You only have about 13 former candidates intending to run again so Davis can pick 24 new people. Thirteen who ran before who ain’ had no problems with anybody and who the constituents still want. You know how much 24 new people is? You know what kind of job that is?”
The party’s Candidates Committee has only met once, according to George Smith who sits on the committee. The former Cabinet minister said the committee desires to run a fresh slate of candidates. Mr Miller’s views have caused anxiety among some in the PLP, with one insider saying yesterday: “He’s behaving like a loose cannon, sometimes insisting he’s the candidate.”
For his part, Mr Smith said he intends to be a vocal member of the Candidates Committee who will strongly argue that almost all former candidates who lost in 2017 not be given nominations.
“I believe the Candidates Committee must be guided by the judgment that the people of the country sent the PLP (packing) in the last election,” he said. “We lost every seat but four. Inherent in that is the heavy message that the electorate had wanted to see the back of Perry Christie as prime minister, that is indisputably a fact. It also wiped out 35 of the 39 candidates, some of whom were incumbent members with some longstanding service.”
Mr Smith said the aftermath of the PLP’s defeat in 1992 must instruct the party’s next moves.
“It was the considered opinion of many ambitious members that had not been in the House, that certain first time candidates defeated in 1992 and certain people in the House who were defeated that year should not seek another election,” Mr Smith said. “There were some people who won in ‘92 but they were encouraged not to seek an election to make room for new candidates. That message was widely accepted after the 1997 election. In some instances, some of the people who lost in ‘92 should have been permitted to run again because they were competent and contributing members of Parliament. Some who willingly stepped aside in 1997 to make room for a new candidate were very effective representatives. I lost in 1997 but I knew if I had run in the next election I would have won. They took Exuma from two seats to one seat. I won it in ‘92 and lost by a few votes in ‘97. I knew if I ran again I would win but I agreed with the principle and stood aside. I know today as I recognised in the years after 2002 that that was for me a mistake to step aside because Exuma got a terrible representative.
“I say all this to say this: every defeated member who was in the House, if they are to be considered for 2022, the circumstances have to be exceptional because the same claim that was made in ‘92 and ‘97, I intend to push for that same principle to apply this time around.”
Mr Smith said there are a few other former MPs who won’t deal well with being denied a nomination. “There are a couple of them who feel they are not only entitled to be renominated, but they are entitled to be in the Cabinet,” he said.
In response to Mr Smith, Mr Miller told The Tribune: “George Smith don’t make no decision on who can run again, man please stop talking foolishness. You see any party does go with all rookies? Most of the time you have about six new people come into a party so I don’t know where George coming from talking foolishness. Elections are (over) two years away. “How you know what will happen? Half of us might not be here. You can’t be seriously thinking about that at this stage of the game with people talking about who could run from who can’t run, none of them could make that decision relative to any of us. That’s a decision we have to make.
“Any PLP that is in good standing with the party who would’ve run before has the right and the privilege to run again providing their constituency wants them and they have no derogatory stuff concerning them in public.”
Mr Miller added: “George Smith knows better because he was one of the finest MPs we had and he know if you don’t have any name brand, ain’ nobody gon’ vote for you. How you could send unknowns out there to people who looking for someone to guide them and assist them in what they need to do? How you gon’ do it?”