IF there was a pretense at dignity in the political dogfight over the West End and Bimini constituency before the funeral of representative Obie Wilchcombe, then all semblance of such is long gone now.
The fight it seems is pretty much all in the PLP. The FNM’s candidate seems likely to be Ricardo Grant, with former MP for the seat Pakesia Parker-Edgecombe coming out to say she does not feel dismissed by the party and will support whoever is chosen.
The Coalition of Independents – which looks less like a group of independents and more of a regular party each day – is putting forward its leader, Lincoln Bain, for the seat, despite his commitment to Pinewood in the past.
An actual independent candidate, Terneille Burrows, also plans to run.
Which leaves the PLP – and an unseemly tussle that appears to be going on between former MP and Cabinet minister Shane Gibson, and party chairman and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell.
Mr Mitchell, as is his wont, has been vocal about the by-election, if somewhat obliquely on occasion.
In what was widely considered a shot across Mr Gibson’s bows, Mr Mitchell talked of how former public figures must know when to move on. He said “as a public figure or former public figure, you have to have a sense of when it is time to sail into the sunset and be done”.
Mr Mitchell, it should be noted, is 70, while Mr Gibson is 62.
Mr Mitchell has also suggested that no former MPs should be considered to run for the seat – despite a number of former MPs, himself included, having run in the last election. He needs only look around him in Cabinet to see the likes of his leader, Philip Davis, or Glenys Hanna Martin, or Michael Darville, as those with a track record in Parliament prior to the last election. Mr Wilchcombe himself was another.
Then Mr Mitchell suggested that only those from the previous pool of candidates ought to be considered – which makes no sense, as we are now two years on, and why should there not be new people in a position to put themselves forward now who perhaps were unable to then?
Even if that remains the case, that would mean that the winning candidate would be the one deemed not good enough two years ago and who Mr Wilchcombe was chosen ahead of.
Quite tellingly, there seems to be a contrast between what the party chairman wants, and what the local party wants, with local members expressing the wish that they should have a say on who will represent them – not an outlandish wish, by any means.
Mr Mitchell was also apparently against Mr Wilchcombe taking the nomination two years ago – with Mr Gibson saying “Fred Mitchell is the same person who told Obie you’re not running and who told the people of West End and Bimini that Obie is not running”.
Mr Gibson has taking to sniping in return, snarkily talking about how when he was in office he “had to actually work” and “not where I fly, interact, have coffee and tea and drinks and cigars”.
Quite what is fuelling Mr Mitchell’s evident rejection of Mr Gibson is hard to say – although it is interesting to note that the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been outspoken in recent times during the government’s back and forth with the Grand Bahama Port Authority, in which the government has suggested there should be a change in how Grand Bahama is run. Quite which part of the Foreign Affairs remit Mr Mitchell is operating under when he makes such comments is a mystery.
Mr Gibson, of course, comes with some baggage from his previous tenures in office, and the suggestion is that he is considered a polarising figure by the PLP establishment.
You will note that not one word of this has mentioned anything about policy. Not one word has said anything about what any of these candidates will do to improve the lives of their potential constituents.
That, of course, is where the focus should be – and yet that horse is still back in the stable while the race has begun.
One wonders if Mr Mitchell loses this battle whether he will have a sense of it being time to sail into the sunset – or whether that only applies to others.