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INSIGHT: Game on for FNM...but will party make most of convention?

Killarney MP and former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, Free National Movement deputy leader Shanendon Cartwright and Opposition Leader Michael Pintard during a sitting of the House of Assembly on April 17. Photos: Dante Carrer

Killarney MP and former Prime Minister Hubert Minnis, Free National Movement deputy leader Shanendon Cartwright and Opposition Leader Michael Pintard during a sitting of the House of Assembly on April 17. Photos: Dante Carrer

By Tyler McKenzie

The FNM has named the date for the convention that should take it through to the next election.

For the party, it is a chance to set the table and, more importantly, clear out the behind the scenes arguments that have plagued the party.

The question is, will the party take advantage of that? And be able to make the most of the stumbling by the PLP most clearly shown of late by the Prime Minister’s inability to come up with any kind of good answer on marital rape legislation.

We’ll come to the PLP in a moment – but for now the focus is the other party, the FNM, although sometimes that seems to have been two parties in recent times, one led by Michael Pintard, the other led by former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.

The mess that has been the Richard Johnson saga epitomises the party’s troubles. Court cases, an alleged assault outside the party headquarters, allegations from Mr Johnson that party leaders were involved in the physical attack… the whole thing is a mess.

Mr Johnson is a supporter of Dr Minnis, and has frequently criticised the FNM’s leadership. The back and forth reached such a point that even a Supreme Court judge had to tell the party to cut it out.

Justice Deborah Fraser, just over a year ago, ruled that Mr Pintard, party chairman Dr Duane Sands and Mr Johnson should not personally attack each other or other FNM members in public until she ruled on Mr Johnson’s lawsuit against the FNM leaders. Mr Johnson was seeking $500,000 in damages after being barred from FNM council meetings. A quarter of a million of that was being sought for “mental distress”.

So if we are expecting the FNM to gather round on June 1 and sing kumbaya, we are probably going to be off the mark.

The convention needs to be done. Of that there is no doubt. The question of who should lead the FNM needs to be settled – but so do questions of other roles in the party.

For the leadership question, there is the obvious speculation as to whether Dr Minnis shall indeed challenge Mr Pintard for the top spot.

That may be the likely challenge for people to consider inside the party, but for the public, that battle is between the man they kicked out of office and the man who has struggled to make his mark as leader since.

I have lost count of the number of times the FNM has largely agreed on a PLP policy but tried to make noise about how they would just do it differently.

By now, we ought to have a clear idea of what Mr Pintard believes in, what policies he would wish to drive forward, and how his premiership would differ from those who went before him. We do not.

Dr Minnis has a better instinct for catching public attention and a sharper way of making points – but he was dumped from office by a large margin, and I have not heard any voices pining for his return. A lot of people will never forgive him for not just his actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but for his manner in that period, when he seemed aloof, if not arrogant.

I do not know who is telling him that the people want him back – but if they are the same people who advised him to call an early election only for him to get kicked out, he might want to be careful of such advice.

Perhaps the question should not be will Dr Minnis challenge Mr Pintard, but rather who else should lead instead of either one.

Dr Minnis, of course, has ridden the rough waters of leadership battles before – his split from the Rebel Seven led by Loretta Butler-Turner left a rift in the FNM that has never fully healed.

The ideal scenario for the FNM would be that it emerges unified from the convention and with its team ready to go as the election countdown clock begins.

The worst case scenario would be for the party to go through convention, with all of the cost attached and so on, only to wind up right back where we are, with a party still divided and with sniping and battling going on behind the scenes.

For the party, this convention needs to clear the air. Whoever loses should back the winner, and if they don’t, then they should not expect a nomination. All in. Or all out.

There has been little sign so far that such an outcome would be likely.

The irony for the FNM is that having gone from a landslide defeat in the last election, they are being given plenty of chances by the PLP to make inroads with the voting public.

Brave Davis managed to take a report by the US correctly identifying that women do not have equal rights in The Bahamas and so badly handle it that he ended up saying that women are “ruling us, man” and saying that in public service “more than 80 percent are dominated by females. Look in the industry”.

He went on to say that “men have become endangered species in this country” in what seemed to be a reference to the number of young men that are victims of crime but which was so poorly expressed that you have to solve that statement like a puzzle.

He has repeatedly failed to come to a clear statement on marital rape legislation, seemingly his latest trick being to say that it is not in his blueprint from the election countdown, when actually a commitment to equality for women is in there, while other things the government has done are nowhere to be found in the document.

Then there is the fact that after committing in his very first speech as Prime Minister to lifting the “veil of secrecy”, we seem to be lacking transparency as much as ever – be it on government contracts, also criticised in that US report, or the Freedom of Information Act that never seems to be coming our way, the failure to even respect the basics of public disclosures, or busily putting the legislation in place for an overhaul of BPL without telling people – or workers – what that overhaul will look like.

Add to that the number of people who feel that, despite boasts of record numbers in tourism, they are not gaining the benefit personally and the opportunity is there for the FNM to stage a strong election campaign.

But will they?

June 1 is not far away. It’s up to them.

Comments

birdiestrachan 2 months, 3 weeks ago

The UsA. Is no moral Authority mr Davis is correct if the Supports of the Fnm beat the marital ?rape drum which is all they have many know that this is a old law 1993 the Fnm government could have have passed this law why has it become so urgent it is a trap more are against this law it makes no sense who will monitor the married people bed Those poor people in Gaza do they matter. Innocent women and children

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