EDITOR, The Tribune
Leader of the opposition is never an easy job.
Since the introduction of internal self-government, we have had more opposition leaders than prime ministers.
But there is no doubt that the position can be a catapult into the office of Prime Minister. Witness former opposition leaders Sir Lynden Pindling, Hubert Ingraham, Perry Christie and Hubert Minnis.
Other opposition leaders have included Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield, Cyril Tynes, Sir Kendal Isaacs, Norman Solomon, Henry Bostwick, Tommy Turnquest, Loretta Butler Turner for a hot minute and now Philip Brave Davis.
For our democracy to function we need an effective opposition leader and that is why it is so important for Davis to learn the difference between tactics and strategy.
Davis’ performance of late has been more knee jerk than strategic. While it is true that the government, not the opposition, sets the national agenda, it serves the common good if the leader of the opposition displays a command of the facts, uses data and persuasion to bolster his lambasting of the government and most importantly always comes across as a prime minister in waiting.
In addition to keeping the government’s feet to the fire, the opposition has a duty to put forward in parliament alternative policies and plans in an effort to convince the public that they are a credible government-in-waiting.
It does seem like Brave has an obsession with getting into the news, sometimes disregarding the folk wisdom that if you have nothing to say you should just keep quiet and listen.
Brave has decided that he will make the economy the focus of his near weekly bashing. The irony of the PLP – the party that made a complete dog’s breakfast out of public finances the last time they were in government - telling anyone how to run the economy is not lost on many. Still, Brave persists.
He ought to walk back his latest rant about how we are now on a slippery slope into financial Armageddon piloted by Finance Minister Peter Turnquest.
Brave squandered some credibility with his claim that we are courting financial disaster because the national debt is heading north of $8 billion.
Brave speculated that the financial markets have lost confidence in the ability of the government to manage our finances and in the capacity of the economy to grow us out of debt. He all but predicted that the flotation of an additional $580 million in loans was likely to flop.
But then almost immediately, and obviously coincidentally, the International Monetary Fund slapped him down.
The IMF concluded an in-country review in which it essentially proved Brave’s dire prediction was more hyperbole than math.
To bolster its satisfaction with what the government is doing in its response to life after Hurricane Dorian, the Fund decided to pitch in $200 million from its own rapid financing facility. What is unconventional about that is this money comes without the Fund’s usual strenuous conditions. In layman’s language this means we will get the money quickly.
To Brave’s obvious chagrin the Fund said that the economy is in a gradual recovery and that Turnquest and his team were providing the “appropriate response”. Surely, Treasury officials must have discussed their latest borrowing with the Fund and gotten the green light.
The Fund made a statement saying that public debt is expected to be higher in the medium term. Financial markets tend to like this kind of endorsement.
When conducting a country assessment, Fund managers usually meet with a cross section of society, including opposition leaders. Perhaps they didn’t meet Brave because it would be a political faux pas for him to announce pending calamity if he had just been briefed by the Fund that our economic ship was poised to weather post-Dorian reconstruction.
As opposition leader Brave must demonstrate that the PLP which he now leads has changed. But each day we get a glimpse of pure unadulterated Perry Christie-ism – a constant public relations junkanoo shuffle but never a tango.
Maestro Brave needs to reassess his haphazard approach to public pronouncements disseminated without hint of strategy or discernment.
The opposition leader’s job is to humiliate and embarrass the Prime Minister. Not himself.
February 10, 2020