A Letter to the Editor
By Pierre V.L. Dupuch 02/09/10
Sometime ago while going to the office, I stopped at the gate for the newspaper, opened it and was accosted by this blaring headline, “Branville lacking Cabinet support” and followed by the comment that his only followers were not Party supporters, thus giving the impression that he didnt have a chance if he opposed Hubert Ingraham as party Leader.
I smiled because this is not what I have been told. A good portion of the Cabinet is just waiting for the opportunity to plunge their knives into Hubert’s back but because they are beholden to him for their daily bread there is reluctance to be public about it. And this makes sense. The people vote them into Parliament and pay them $28,000 (or thereabouts ) which makes them beholden to the people. And then comes the Prime Minister (whoever he may be) and, using the peoples money pays them $ 60,000 (or thereabouts), with the option of firing them at a minute’s notice, which makes them beholden to him.
But I have learned from being in politics for virtually all my life not to believe all you read in the papers or hear in the bar rooms, listen to what is said in the meetings held in the dark halls or the back rooms hidden away from the public eye.
I am told that some of those who the Prime Minister may think are beholden to him have already been bought. All I can say is that this will be an interesting one with blood dripping from plenty knives!!!!
Good reading, eh? Interesting to say the least. All facts. But, like the computer, garbage in; garbage out. Whether Branville McCartney has the support of Cabinet or not has no relevance if there is a leadership contest. This whole sordid affair, especially the spin reporters put on it, pricked my curiosity and so I dug out my FNM Constitution. Believe it or not, I did not see the word “Cabinet Minister” mentioned in it once!!
The choice of the FNM Leader (and as such a possible Prime Minister) is not made by the Cabinet, the Parliamentarians, or the Council. The choice of the “Leader” is the sole prerogative of the FNM in Convention where everyone there has one vote, be he/she a Member of Parliament or a simple delegate.
Under the head “Convention”, section 49 it says “The Convention shall consist of the Parliamentary Members, National Officers, Members of the Central Council, and not less than three nor more than seven delegates from each Constituency Association.”
Among other things section 50 of the Constitution states that the “Convention shall be the ultimate authority of the Party” and section (e) of the same constitution, says the Convention is responsible for the “Election of officers of the Party”. The “Leader” is at the top of the list of Party Officers elected. Nowhere does the positions of “Leader Elect” or “Deputy Leader Elect” appear.
That, my friends is parts of the FNM Constitution.
And now how does all this affect the selection of the Prime Minister? To answer this question we turn to the “Constitution of the Bahamas”, which in Chapter VI, section 73 (1) we read: “Whenever there shall be occasion for the appointment of a Prime Minister, the Governor-General shall appoint as Prime Minister.(a) the member of the House of Assembly who is the Leader of the party which commands the support of the majority of the members of that House…” Unlike the British Parliament where the person “who” commands the support of the majority of members becomes the Prime Minister, in the Bahamas the Leader of the party “which” commands the majority in the House becomes Prime Minister. “Which” refers to the party, not the person. It is said that it was worded like that because Sir Lynden felt more comfortable with his party than he did with his parliamentarians.
And there’s the rub. Ingraham was the “Leader” of the FNM throughout the election of 2002 and would have been asked to form the Government if the FNM had been elected the majority. The positions of “Leader Elect” and “Deputy Leader elect” did not exist in either the FNM constitution or, more importantly, in the Bahamian Constitution!
The posts that Tommy Turnquest and Dion Foulkes held did not exist. It was a sham! Ingraham made people believe he was not going for a third term, but positioned himself to be appointed for a third term if the FNM had won. Remember, “the Governor-General shall appoint the Leader of the Party which commands the majority”. And Ingraham was the Leader.
The thing that amazes me is that leading lawyers in the FNM knew this was a sham, but went along with it.
So there it is folks, the facts.
I have just received some rather interesting and disturbing information about the organization known as the Government-Bay street Partnership. I will soon write about that!! Those revelations may blow your socks off!!!