The ever-disgruntled House Speaker, Halson Moultrie, has quit the Free National Movement.
There is of course the temptation to read into this what it might mean for the FNM, particularly at a time when the election countdown is underway.
PLP chairman Fred Mitchell was quick to peer at the tea leaves and conclude it meant the FNM was “imploding as the wheels are falling off one by one”. Mr Moultrie is the third member of the FNM to resign, in the wake of Reece Chipman and Vaughn Miller, the latter of which has joined the PLP.
Mr Moultrie himself says it is the end of a “seven-month constructive withdrawal” from the FNM. It coincides with the announcement of a number of candidates for the FNM for the upcoming election – and one wonders whether Mr Moultrie was likely to be selected again if indeed he has been separating himself from the party for several months.
The Speaker himself had long complained about the independence of the legislative branch from the executive branch of government. He also complained about the state of his offices – going so far as to turn in his keys in November because he was not satisfied with the office and bathroom facilities.
He also attracted attention for the wrong reasons at times – such as the backlash he received when he said that spiritually a husband cannot rape his wife. He also lashed out at “fake” stories in the press without making clear what he was talking about, and clashed with a reporter for taking photographs in the House of Assembly.
It is fair to say that Mr Moultrie’s time in his role as Speaker has been a turbulent one – and the rift between him and his party over issues in the House seems to have grown over time.
Insiders in the FNM told The Tribune that constituents no longer wanted his representation. One said: “He was told that to run again for Nassau Village would be a win for the PLP.”
So the PLP will say this shows the FNM is falling apart. The FNM will say he was no longer wanted. And Mr Moultrie says that his continued association was “divergent and untenable”.
Perhaps he is retiring from the battlefield before he suffers defeat. Whatever the combination of reasons, one thing is clear – we are on the path to the next election, and behind the scenes candidates are being locked down. That might upset some – whether it’s Mr Moultrie in the FNM or Leslie Miller over in the PLP as he vies for a seat there.
It will be interesting indeed to see how Mr Moultrie proceeds in his duties as Speaker. That is a role where independence is undoubtedly welcome – and Mr Moultrie will no longer have any ties to hold him back.