MINISTER of Foreign Affairs and Public Service Fred Mitchell. Photo: Racardo Thomas/Tribune Staff
By TANYA SMITH-CARTWRIGHT
FOREIGN Affairs and Public Service Minister Fred Mitchell said the Free National Movement lost the goodwill of the Bahamian people early in its term and the party “couldn’t see the forest for the trees” and just went downhill.
Mr Mitchell, also the Progressive Liberal Party’s chairman, said he hopes his party remembers that lesson on goodwill.
“Goodwill is that je ne sais quoi which causes life to move in the right direction,” Mr Mitchell said yesterday. “A political party and political leaders need that goodwill to operate.
“Early in the term of Hubert Minnis and the FNM, 35 to four seats in the House and 12 to four in the Senate, the FNM lost the goodwill of the Bahamian people. Once the Oban deal was found to be fake, it was downhill from there.
“They were so self-absorbed, of course and full of hubris, that they continued with this folly by firing PLPs and then trying to put three of our former parliamentarians in jail. They couldn’t see the forest for the trees and life for the FNM went downhill.”
Mr Mitchell said with 57 months to go, he hopes the PLP government continues to enjoy the goodwill of the Bahamian people.
“They never recovered because they lost the goodwill of the Bahamian people,” Mr Mitchell said. “A hundred days have gone since we were elected on the 16th of September this year. We have 57 months to go and the quality of those 57 months will depend on whether or not we continue to have the goodwill of the Bahamian people for the rest of our term.
“I believe, I hope, the PLP remembers this lesson about goodwill. The message of power and goodwill. I would argue that goodwill in the business of politics is, if not more valuable, at least equal to money. And, you know what the Americans say, there are two rules in politics. Rule number one is that you need money to operate. Rule number two is see rule number one.”
Mr Mitchell said as someone who has lost an election and come back victorious, he understands the need to be there for constituents.
“I try as best I can to deal with every call, text message and any inquiry even in the dark of night. Goodwill is what causes me to be able to win again and to serve.
“For my other colleagues, through the darkest days of opposition politics, that lady who sent you a meal for lunch, the man or woman who sent you unsolicited small contributions in the envelope for the party, people who saw adverse decisions being made against you by the last administration and warned you to duck.”
He gave examples of political goodwill and goodwill in general.
“Even FNMs would call and say, ‘I don’t agree with what my party and my leader are doing,’” he said. “An example of goodwill I often use with students of politics is I say a police officer sent to guard a politician can do his or her duties in two ways.
“One, they can see the stone about to be thrown and stop it, or they can allow the stone to be thrown and then go and arrest the person.
“The outcome, of course, depends on the goodwill of the officer doing his duty, but the outcome is practically different if the stone hits you.”