Deputy Progressive Liberal Party leader Chester Cooper.
By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
Progressive Liberal Party deputy leader Chester Cooper has stressed the need for the party’s 2022 general election candidates to be “good” and “credible” people.
A week after the Free National Movement celebrated its historic 2017 landslide victory at the polls - leaving the PLP with a meagre four seats in Parliament - Mr Cooper said: “We need to understand no one is going to hand an election to us. We have to go out there and seize it.”
The party should also offer more women candidates, the Exuma and Ragged Island MP said.
He made the remarks during a PLP North Andros branch meeting, where he insisted North Andros MP Carlton Bowleg has not been a good representative for the area. In large part, he blamed this on the failings of the Minnis administration since it took office.
“It would be the PLP’s greatest tragedy to believe we will win by default and not be armed and ready to fight when elections are called,” Mr Cooper said.
“So, I will tell you before I leave here the roadmap I’ve shared with other constituencies. And to me, the journey to retaking North Andros and retaking the government - so that some semblance of sensible national leadership can be in place - starts now.
“We’re talking about the future of the PLP and make no mistake about it, the future of the PLP starts now.
“The road to the next election in 2022, if it even takes that long, starts now. So, on top of holding (Prime Minister Dr) Hubert Minnis and this FNM government to account, let’s start making the PLP the party of choice for the people in 2022.”
He continued: “We need good people, credible people, some experienced people and a lot of new faces, and female faces. Half the voters in the country are women.
“So, we need to recruit more quality female candidates and more women fighting on the front lines for the PLP and the future of this nation.”
However he noted the largest cross-section of voters by the next election will be young people, so an investment is needed in youth to give them real opportunity.
“Young people in North Andros, I am told, are leaving their hometowns and not returning. It’s leaving our communities stripped bare. So, we have to get the young people involved with the understanding that this Bahamas is theirs and crafting its future starts now.
“A clear plan and agenda to show our youth, you can make money, live a great life and have all the things you want right here at home. We must let our youth now, that it’s all about you in 2022.”
As he frequently does, Mr Copper also harshly criticised the prime minister, telling PLP supporters Dr Minnis was in an unstable place with Bahamians.
“The PM knows he’s in a fragile place. He knows he’s lost the confidence and trust of the people. He could call an election at any time.
“We can’t let him catch us by surprise. Let’s stay sharp, stay prepared, stay on the attack, but build up the defences and put ourselves in a position to be the next government of the Bahamas,” Mr Cooper said.