By J.Maxfield Outten
When it appeared that nothing further could be done to make the political scene in Grand Bahama more interesting, a Cabinet Minister gets the boot and a second, is hog-tied and shipped out to new pastures in New Providence. Of course, I speak of Kenneth Russell and more recently, The OUT-GOING Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing.
As far as Mr. Russell goes, he seems to be another casualty of the Hubert Ingraham style of government, which is panicking and in its desperate attempts to consolidate power and surround him with the few faithful, he has pushed out current challengers (Bran McCartney and Carl Bethel) to his preferred successor (Zhivargo Laing), gotten rid of all potential challengers to Laing (Ken Russell, Neko Grant, Desmond Bannister), transferred other likely challengers to impossible seats which they cannot win (Dion Foulkes, Loretta Butler-Turner) and he has moved his protege (Laing) to what he expects will be a safe seat for the Free National Mess (FNM) this time around. Hubert Ingraham hopes that Fort Charlotte will increase his chances of winning a seat and a frank admission that this would have been impossible in his current constituency, Marco City. But before they depart the Grand Bahama political scene, they both have an obligation to the electorate and indeed, to the Bahamain people at large!
Before Ken Russell heads off into the sunset, he has a duty to explain to the people of The Bahamas his side of the story regarding the ill-fated venture for East Grand Bahama. His political career may be in ruins so he has nothing to lose! Before Laing heads to Nassau, he should apologize to the people of The Bahamas for the submediocre and lousy job he did understudying the Minister of Finance and to the residents of Marco City for his paltry representation for the past 4 plus years and to the residents of Grand Bahama for leaving the island in a mess. Additionally, he should apologize to the people of The Bahamas for failing to stimulate the economy and failing to protect against the steady hemorrhage of jobs, the latest round of which were announced last week. He had the gumption to say that the industrial sector in Grand Bahama remains relatively stable … if this was true, shedding jobs and key experienced personnel is a strange way of showing it.
One view is that Ingraham’s desperation and increasing anxiety have caused him to act in totally arbitrary ways. However, his actions make perfect sense once you realize that he has been following his succession plan in preparation for defeat by removing challengers to Laing and transferring Laing to a seat that he must win in a reduced Opposition in which Laing can have an unchallenged run to the Party leadership. The key question to Laing, however, is whether it is worth it, whether the Prime Minister’s actions and the promised prize at the end of it, are sufficient to ease the pain of abandoning his family, friends and political colleagues in Grand Bahama and turning his back on everything he said he believed in about Grand Bahama. I suspect the voters of Fort Charlotte will see straight through him like the Emperor with no clothes.
So good riddance Mr. Laing, we hope the voter’s of Fort Charlotte will find you equally as arrogant … Don’t let the Marco City door hit you on the way out !!