Minnis faces a defining week for his future

Photo: Dante Carrer

Photo: Dante Carrer

By Malcolm Strachan

THE FNM convention is almost upon us – by this time next week, it will all be over and we will know if Michael Pintard has been confirmed as the returning leader or if Dr Hubert Minnis has won what looks at this stage like a very unlikely victory.

Indeed, unlikely is perhaps being optimistic – at the moment, it seems like an impossible step.

On Thursday evening, a succession of well-known FNM faces gathered at the British Colonial hotel for a pre-convention event in support of Mr Pintard. There have been complaints about the convention only being one day long – this felt like an extension in everything but name.

It must take something for a former prime minister’s Cabinet members to ditch him and show up for his opponent, but here they were.

Former National Security Minister Marvin Dames was there, so was former Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar. Former Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest has already shown his support for Mr Pintard. Former Health Minister Dr Duane Sands, the party chairman, has been speaking of his support for Mr Pintard of course.

Former Speaker Alvin Smith was at the event, as was Katherine Forbes-Smith, the former managing director of the Disaster Reconstruction Unit.

Two members of the Rebel Seven were in the crowd too – Richard Lightbourne and Hubert Chipman and might as well have been saying “told you so” about Dr Minnis after their group ousted him as Leader of the Opposition before he became prime minister. That was a strange move that did not seem to have a final outcome in mind, but it certainly showed a lack of confidence in the man who wants once again to become leader.

There were more too – Brensil Rolle, Pakesia Parker-Edgecome, Darren Henfield, Dion Foulkes, Elsworth Johnson, Reece Chipman, Brent Symonette have all opted for Team Pintard, it would seem.

Meanwhile, over at Team Minnis, there’s Branville McCartney talking about how he will rejoin the FNM if Dr Minnis wins. Wait, no, he said when Dr Minnis whens, not if. When he wins? If he has any commitment to the FNM, he ought to join win or lose – not just roll up after the victory parade to claim whatever prize Dr Minnis has offered.

McCartney called Dr Minnis “tried and tested”, but we should not put too much stock in those words given back in 2017 he called Dr Minnis a “bad politician” who was “full of himself”.

Elsewhere in Team Minnis, there’s Desmond Bannister, who has been silent in the FNM except when he pops up to support Dr Minnis, and then there’s Renward Wells. Aside from that, there is Mark Humes, strangely, who Dr Minnis ousted from candidacy for a seat in the last election.

If you’re looking at which way the wind blows, it’s not looking good for Dr Minnis.

Which begs the question, if he loses, what next?

When he was in office as prime minister, he advocated for term limits – without actually doing much to implement them. Had he won, his term limit would be up at the next election. If he was set on retiring then – and he is 70 years old at present – will he do the same if he is not leading the party into the election?

It is hard to see him being happy playing second fiddle to a Pintard prime ministership, harder still to see him sat behind Mr Pintard in opposition if the party loses.

Given the opposition within the party that Dr Minnis has provided to Mr Pintard, it is far from unimaginable that Mr Pintard would decline to offer Dr Minnis a seat to run in.

The next week, then, may not just be make or break for Dr Minnis in terms of his hopes of leading the party, but of representing the party in the future at all.

He says he is not going anywhere if he loses – saying that whatever the outcome “I will remain loyal and devoted to the party I have supported all my life”.

Even if he wins, he will face an uphill battle to convince the electorate.

Dr Minnis caught some really tough times when he was prime minister. His administration was served a double whammy of Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic to deal with. Around the world, economies were hard hit by the global shutdown – and we were no different.

But the high-handed nature of how he dealt with those disasters alienated many to his leadership – and there seems little sign of them coming back to vote for the FNM if he becomes leader again.

Then again, when he was ousted as leader of the Opposition by the Rebel Seven, it seemed impossible for him to win election having split his party – and he did.

It seems equally impossible for him to win from here – but we will know more very soon.

If he does lose, then Dr Minnis may face the political wilderness ahead of him, perhaps by his own choice – but perhaps not. He has some serious thinking to do.


birdiestrachan 1 month, 3 weeks ago

Just a great big bunch of loosers but if I had to make a guess Malcolm I would guess you are for the doc. So that put you in the loosers column ah well

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