ON Wednesday, voters go to the polls in West Grand Bahama and Bimini – and each of the major parties has been throwing its political heavyweights at the campaign.
Hubert Ingraham made his first political rally speech since 2017 in Bimini on Friday, but there has been one figure notable by his absence.
Flyers for that rally showed pictures of Mr Ingraham, FNM leader Michael Pintard and former FNM leader Tommy Turnquest – so who’s missing?
Dr Hubert Minnis, the most recent former Prime Minister for the FNM, was nowhere to be seen.
Instead, while his supposed colleagues are out on the campaign trail on behalf of Bishop Ricardo Grant, Dr Minnis was instead sending out a press release announcing the first volume of three memoirs he is releasing.
In the first volume, he talks of his struggles growing up, talking about the value of tenacity and ambition in the face of adversity.
He talks about “the importance of being determined to make the right choices early in life. These choices will lead you towards your destiny.”
Tenacity. Ambition. Destiny. It does not take a crystal ball reader to see that Dr Minnis might not yet be done with hopes of leadership.
Still, if he does still harbour hopes of leading the FNM again one day – and of challenging current leader Mr Pintard for the post – deciding not to stump for votes in an election campaign is an odd way to win over the grassroots of the FNM. If he shows up asking for votes in a leadership vote, they might well be entitled to ask where he was when they needed someone to ask for votes in a constituency seat.
Meanwhile, Mr Ingraham was a voice of good sense at the Bimini rally – with a caveat.
He talked of how governments with too large a majority are problematic – even his own government when he won 34 of 40 seats.
“We had too many seats,” he said. “Minnis had too many seats. Brave got too many seats.”
He added: “You have to find jobs for all those fellas. They all cost you money and the government could function quite properly with fewer numbers.”
It is not just about finding jobs, of course – a strong opposition can keep the government on its toes. A close enough margin only needs a few defectors for any given vote to falter. That means legislation should be more closely examined, and not just rubber stamped through with a majority big enough to carry almost any legislation, for good or ill.
So a strong opposition is a good thing – but equally a deep backbench can keep the frontliners on their toes.
When Sylvanus Petty was asked to resign, who does the Prime Minister turn to instead? Look around and there are not many without a job already.
A good backbench means that if a minister is not performing, well, out they go and in comes the person from the benches. It can keep ministers on their toes too.
That is the caveat – that a good, functional backbench has its assets too. But Mr Ingraham is right – because we do not have that. Everyone gets a job. A chairmanship, a ministerial role, a Cabinet seat, an ambassadorship perhaps, a government car and a chauffeur.
Do we need all that to run our government? Think of those appointed in any administration whose voice you have never heard, whose administration roles have never seemed to make any impact.
Some who are handed minor roles shine – and get their chance at promotion, such as Pia Glover-Rolle or Jomo Campbell in this administration. Others, well, if they are not doing very much then they can stay at the back.
Posts should not just be handed out to keep people happy – they should be earned. And administrations should not just govern unchallenged – they should be pressed by the opposition of the day.
Perhaps if that were the case, our people would be the better for it.