Oswald Brown Writes a Political Postmortem following The Elizabeth By-Election

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OSWALD BROWN WRITES

Dear Editor,

In my last OSWALD BROWN WRITES column, which The Nassau Guardian refused to publish and subsequently requested that I retire as editor of The Freeport News, I noted that the Elizabeth bye-election would be a referendum on the leadership of Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. The verdict is now in. Unquestionably, Ryan Pinder’s victory, which was confirmed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday, is a clear indication that the Bahamian people are fed up with Ingraham’s dictatorial tendencies, and will demonstrate their disgust at the polls in 2012 or whenever the next general elections are held.

Even if Ingraham decides to retire and not lead the Free National Movement (FNM) in the next general elections, I predict that the FNM will go down to a crushing defeat. That’s primarily because Ingraham has succeeded in emasculating some once promising FNM leaders who had the potential to succeed him. Branville McCartney, who arguably was the best immigration minister to hold that position since the country has been plagued by a serious illegal Haitian immigrant problem, was by far the best choice to take over the leadership of the FNM after Ingraham, but he was left with no choice but to resign several weeks ago if he wanted to maintain the widespread respect he has garnered from the Bahamian people during his still young political career.

His resignation was no doubt welcomed by some of his colleagues who saw him as a definite threat to their own leadership ambitions, and some of them in fact may have been part of a conspiracy to force him to resign. National Security Minister Tommy Turnquest is still considered to be the front-runner to replace Ingraham, but he still lacks leadership appeal among the vast majority of Bahamians. Of course, Ingraham’s personal choice for his successor is Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing, but almost on a daily basis Laing proves that he is far from ready to lead the FNM, no matter how much Ingraham continues to push him in that direction. Health Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis was once considered to be a promising prospect, but he has allowed his close friendship with Ingraham to cloud his political judgment and has remained silent as Ingraham has controlled the FNM as if it is his personal fiefdom. What all this adds up to is a huge victory for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in the next general elections, now that they have wisely resolved their leadership dispute and have embarked upon a very sensible exercise of selecting some candidates well in advance of the elections. The four candidates ratified last week certainly are all excellent choices, and if this trend continues, the PLP’s success in the next election is assured.

One bit of advice that I would offer the PLP is to take full advantage of the racial implications of Ryan Pinder’s victory in Elizabeth, and forever shed its  image, in the minds of some, as being a racist party. Ryan Pinder is a white Bahamian, and this unquestionably should be used as a foundation to broaden the party’s appeal among our white brothers and sisters. The truth of the matter is that there were many white Bahamians who abhorred the racist policies of the United Bahamian Party (UPB) when that white minority government ran this country, and in some cases were victims of the oppressive policies of the UPB. The fact that Ryan’s father, Marvin Pinder, once was  an elected PLP House of Assembly member and  served as a minister in the PLP government is indicative of this fact. Unfortunately, the PLP did not take full advantage of the opportunity that Marvin Pinder provided for it to broaden its appeal to other white Bahamians who shared his views.  The Bahamas is too small a country for the racial division that still exists to continue. Ryan Pinder’s victory has provided the PLP with a splendid opportunity to close that gap. It is an opportunity that should not be squandered.

Yours sincerely,
Oswald T. Brown
Freeport, Grand Bahama