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May 14, 2007

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Interested

During the campaign the FNM did a masterful job of painting Mr. Christie as a shuffling buffoon, an incompetent manager and one who talked incessently without substance. They showed that his only real claim to fame the anchor projects were really poorly negotiated land and concession giveaways with no real empowerment for Bahmaians and highly doubtful futures.

They made the issue Christie vs Ingrahm's competence and the PLP played right into their hands because based on the records this is a no brainer, at least to swing voters who looked at the records objectively. The PLP did not have an issue that could win with the swing voters after they lost the competence battle.

This FNM strategy played well directly to the swing voters who could clearly see it as a powerful and determinative issue. The FNM did have other issues as detailed on their website and manifesto but really did not need them because the match up of the competency issue was so definitive and overwhelming to the typical swing voter.

However the real problem for the PLP was simply a bunch of bad decisions throughout their tenure. They started with wasting time and getting folks upset with the consultative committees which put them two years behind in getting anything started in the relatively short 5 year stint. They then swung into anchor project mode as a saviour to get the economy jump started but failed miserably in their poor negotiations of these deals, Mr. christie having to actually run Mr. Ginn down after he left the bahamas begging him to come back. Most intelligent swing voters could see right through the inadequacies of the anchor projects and the land and conncession giveaways and lack of bahmaian ownership plus other major problems with the potential for success of these projects.

The various little scandals on a weekly basis just exascerbated the situation and made the competency issue even worse.

When you throw in the poor crime and education figures, no schools built, no clinics built, every union and interest group from the teachers etc up in arms, it got worse.

Then the election tactics showing that the old corrupt PLP ways were still in place and the race card game insulted the increasingly sophisticated electorate.

The big problem however was after Hubert Ingrahm returned as leader, it paralyzed the PLP who focused exclusively on him, something they should have never done because by making him the issue they played directly into the FNM's election strategy on the competency issue.

They really started out their term in a losing way, somewhat recovered a bit a couple years ago but just did not have a strategy to combat Hubert Ingrahm as a leader. For some strange reason they saw their win in 2002 as a defeat of Ingrahm rather than Tommy Turnquest and failed to recognize that Hubert Ingraham had the skills to have beaten L.O.Pindling twice and was a formidable opponent. They simply underestimated his strengths as a leader and campaigner, they should have looked at history.

They also ran a poor campaign in other ways. For example with the issues of competency at stake they should have put forward and center stage others such as B. J. Nottage and others in the party who the swing voters may have responded better to and taken the spotlight of Christie a bit.

It was fairly obvious that they had problems with the swing voter for some time. Anyone who followed the Internet coverage of the government's performance the past five years would have noticed it was highly negative approximately 80% so. This Internet coverage should have served as an indirect poll of swing voter confidence since these are the voters who are most likely to populate the Internet with their opinions.

In any event they are acutually lucky they did not lose by a larger margin. Sadly it will now take a miracle for them to regain power in less than 10 years because the FNM will have learned from their previous mistakes and they are more likely to do a more innovative job in the next five years, they clearly have a more action oriented leader and an excellent team of young innovative MPs who will probably be somewhat imppressive in their operations to the swing voters who are the real power as we have seen in this election.

nicob

Why does it matter why who won or who lost? Why do we care more about the teams than the nation? Why does this post-election discussion continue to taste like conquest? When will we focus on the state and on our country, and make the politicians -- who are, after all, supposed to be our representative, supposed to be building our nation, not dividing it into camps -- work for us even when we're not going to have to vote again for years? Why do we make MPs so important? Why don't we set the pace and let the politicians catch up?

Interested

It does matter why a govt lost or won. This analysis is important for many reasons, not the least to demonstrate to politicians how and why they need to govern better and certainly within the confines of what the electorate considers important to them.

After all even though we as citizens may have many ideas and ideals, in a small country like the Bahamas where the govt is everything and all powerful, we must depend on them to get the things done that we desire.

It would be nice if we can do it ourselves but thats why socities need governments. They should be dependable and depended upon to do their job.

Interested

In fact MPs are not important enough in a practical sense. In the westminster system as practised in the Bahamas our MPs are somewhat impotent. To make government more accountable we will need major changes in our system of govt. As it is now the Prime Minister's position is all powerful and party politics overbearingly dominant. The electorate really only has power every five years and even then the choices are extremely limited. An interesting article on these issues and the need for change in govt stucture can be viewed at this site

http://www.hannaian.com/stringsfreecarib.html

We have a long way to go in the Bahamas to put the type of political infrastruture in place in order to secure stable and competent governance from administration to administration.

Even more daunting a task is our need to become and remain competitive with our countries and societies around the globe
with the infrastructure we have in place.

Djosey

It would seem that Felix Bethel rather surprisingly said it best-the PLP lost in 2007 because they never really won in 2002. They became the government by default and mistakenly assumed that winging an election simply meant –just showing up – as always without a clear plan. Perry Christie single-handedly lost the government of the Bahamas due to his inability to harness the synergy of one of the brightest field of cabinet ministers the assembling of Sir Lynden’s first cabinet. Every man was for himself and every woman the same. Bahamian government for the last five years lacked a clearly articulated goal which each minister should have pursued led by a competent leader who was accountable to all Bahamians and not simply his band of PLP brothers (coincidently as I live outside of the Bahamas) I have yet to hear a thank you to the other 50 % of the Bahamian population whom Mr. Christie was privileged to lead for the past 5 years. Nor have I heard a speech from Mr. Christie conceding his loss of the election. In his mind I presume he has yet to come to grips with the fact that he has lost.
It is absolutely important that we focus on the teams that won or lost and the reasons for the same. The Bahamian people by their actions have demonstrated their maturity. It is important in this forum and others that their growth be validated. It is also most important that those who aspire to future leadership become conversant with the expectations of a new generation of Bahamians. Our commitment is in fact not to party but to country. It is further of absolute necessity that Bahamians have the outlets to vocalize and express themselves so that we may move on. This has seemingly been one of the most contentious elections we have had undergone in recent times. We must now by our own efforts or via inspired leadership bring our country back together and cap or destroy the venom released in our country recently. At the end of the day; the desire to win at any cost results in a people having to pay a very high price.

larry smith

I concur that it is important to analyse why politicians win or lose in a democratic society.

And the distancing of many intellectuals from nitty gritty politics is a cop-out in my view.

To say that you don't vote because the system is imperfect contributes nothing.

nicob

The point is, we don't know why the election turned out the way it did, because it was a new result. Analysis is different from conclusion. What most people have done is express conclusions, rather than ask the kinds of questions that might encourage us to turn this result into a trend. Reverting in our discussions to the good-guy/bad-guy politics that are so all-pervasive, and so tedious, will do nothing for us in the long run.

What troubles me about black-and-white discussions of winning and losing is that they perpetuate long-standing divisions in our nation without addressing the causes, engines, or consequences of those divisions. What I react to in the above is that most of the discussions remain loyal to those divisions, rather than committed to examining what really happened this time.

We need to move beyond the concept that politics is a game in which we support our teams and win or lose at any cost. The outcome of this election was a breath of air in the middle of poison. Our response as commentators has to honour that. To my mind, getting the suckers out, no matter which suckers we're talking about, has to become less important to us as a people if we want to move forward than putting the right guys in.

larry smith

The Bahamas is a very small universe - with only so many people capable and willing to commit to political leadership.

In other words, putting the right guys in is problematic because we do not have a wide choice. And our parliamentary system means that we are really voting for the leader of the party that wins the most seats - not the individual candidates.

Consequently, the best way to control the political class - all things being equal - is to vote them out.

nicob

Fair enough.

And this is the discussion that we ought to be having. Do we want this kind of parliamentary system anyway? What would/could be more efficient for us? Do we really need a so-called "democratic" choice that is preordained before the candidates ever make it to the public, or should there be something else put in place? What would give us more power still?

Because I don't think that independence should put an end to impossible dreaming. In 1953 when the PLP was formed it was impossible to imagine that within 15 years Black Bahamians would control the government, and that within 20 years The Bahamas would be independent. In 1987 it was impossible to imagine that any Bahamian could say pretty well anything he or she wanted in a public forum with very little real effect, or that people whose careers had apparently been ended because they crossed the wrong editor (in the case of the Tribune or the Guardian) or the wrong politician (in the case of ZNS) would ever work again, or that their voices might be major forces in Bahamian thought again.

And yet here we are.

I for one refuse to be limited by the so-called narrowness of our choice. In this little country, we appear to be able to do almost anything we consider impossible -- perhaps because we have such short memories. Instead of working within our limitations, I prefer to dream of change. Real, fundamental change, not the simple substitution of one set of letters and colours for another. Revolution, not reform.

larry smith

Constitutional reform is one thing - and the commission proposals seem fairly well thought out and constructive. The only really 'radical' suggestion is that we become a republic.

Crafting a completely new political system and constitution would be a process fraught with dangers. We would have to weigh the pros and the cons very carefully.

Elcott Coleby

I think Craig Butler said it best when he said that a number of issues led to the defeat of the PLP. I believe that the media campaigned against the PLP for five years and was more aggressive in their attacks on the PLP. Niki Kelly recently wrote that in the eyes of the Tribune, the FNM could do no wrong. I concur with her observation.

Most of the pundits who commented on the reasons for the PLP defeat appear to be biased and have a visceral hatred of the PLP.

Let's take the actions of Earl Deveaux for example. Many Bahamians do not know to this day who Marin Trembly, Derek Turner, and Victor Khorzeny are. Derek Turner was allowed to issue a police certificate that was 13 months old when the law clearly states that the police certificate cannot be more than 6 months old. Further, the chairman of the committee that approves work permits is the PM and not the minister. Very little or anything was said about this in the media. It appears that the media people seek to protect the FNM by keeping them under the radar while keeping the PLP under the microscope. This cannot be the role of the fouth estate who are supposed to be the gate keepers.

When Frank Watson was found to be involved in a scandal, the then PM defended him by attacking Monique Pindling in Parliament. Ingraham never dealt with Earl Deveaux, Carl Bethel, David Thompson, Dion Foulkes, and Tommy Turnquest. All of these scandal-ridden politicians are back in government in some substantive capacity and so is their boss. The editor of the Nassau Guardian has already pulled out the anointing oil for this crew before they have done anything. He calls the cabinet superb. I disagree. Oswald Brown has done the same thing about Grand Bahama and Neko Grant has done nothing. The economic turnaround in Grand Bahama was facilitated by the PLP. For example, the construction industry has expanded by 125% over the last five years.

The media continues to prop up Ingraham as strong, decisive, and intolerant of corruption when there is compelling evidence to the contrary. He was indecisive on reforming the Financial Services Sector and almost destroyed it. He never decisively addressed the safety and security issues at the LPIA and the Prince George wharf and the country was black listed by the FAA and the OECD, FAF, and FATF. The FNM created BISX, but never supported it and this financial market almost failed. Today, BISX is outperforming the NYSE. The FNM introduced the micro-loan program that was a failure. Christie introduced the Venture Capital Fund and the Domestic Investment Board and both to date are successful. The FNM destroyed Batelco, but by 2006, BTC had generated $50 million in net operating income and receiving a $353 million infrastructural upgrade. Ingraham's decision making processes have had catastrophic consequences for the Bahamas. All of these problems created by Ingraham and the FNM were fixed by the Christie administration, yet the media tells the Bahamian people that the PLP is an ineffective and indecisive government. I disagree as there is compelling evidence to the contrary.

The FNM brags about building 12 schools in 10 years, but that translated into only 332 standard class rooms. The PLP constructed 519 standard class rooms in 5 years. The PLP constructed 1500 homes in 5 years compared to 780 homes in 10 years by the FNM, yet the media perpetuates this notion that the PLP is a do nothing government and the FNM is action oriented and a can do government. Both the media and the FNM are reluctant to match the record of the FNM against the PLP head to head because there will be no comparison. I am totally convinced that a FNM government cannot execute on the level of a PLP government and there is tangible evidence to support this assertion. I can go on and on but you get my point.

Some people may argue (as I do) that the PLP lost the PR war and thus the election, but much of the perception formed by the electorate was heavily influenced by a decidedly biased media. They got little to no help from the fourth estate in getting their message out. The media may argue that the failure of effective PR is the fault of the leadership of the PLP. While I agree, the media is still the distribution network through which information is disseminated to the general public. The PLP government executed admirably in the midst of a hostile media environment. This cannot be good for our democracy.

larry smith

As I said in an earlier article, after a short initial period the PLP government was 'inevitably unavailable to the press" - with the possible exception of James Smith.

If public officials are not allowed and/or willing to address public issues with the public media that is the government's own fault.

larry smith

And this is basically a recitation of the Fred Mitchell 'analysis' - that the PLPs downfall was caused by a massive media conspiracy. The PLP did nothing wrong themselves, they were as pure as the driven snow, and as responsible as God. They just got lied on.

If they carry on with that self-righteous attitude they will never get back in office.

And if the Tribune could swing an election that easily, why weren't they successful from 1967 to 1992? And doesn't ZNS/BIS have any influence these days? If not, why not?

EB Christen

I am not sure if the lady defending the PLP has been living in the same country as the rest of us for the past 5 years. If her position, which essentially boils down to a warped form of 'denial', is the one adopted by the PLP as they begin their foray as the opposition, then she and they will swiftly find reality tearing the 'veil of denial' quite roughly from their eyes. There is too much sunshine in the Bahamas for shadowy lies to linger long. Ingraham will probably move very quickly now in reminding Bahamians what governance looks like. If one remembers the deplorable state of the country in 1992, after 15+ years* of PLP incompetency, and realizes how profound his impact was then; it shouldn't be too hard to see that things aren't quite as bad in 2007 and Ingraham should be able to rectify 5 years of PLP mismanagement quite swiftly. Opinions about this are one thing... I invite the lady to watch what unfolds in the next 2 years... forget 5 years... Perhaps then, denial will drop, admission of PLP incompetence can begin and the restoration of that great party can also commence. The country needs a viable 2 party system and it needs the PLP to clean up its act. This great little place should have a bright political future - it deserves it and has everything going for it. I hope for sunnier political days ahead and I hope for smarter governance - whatever its source.

*I say 15+ years because I honestly believe that LOP's first 10 years were not a bad period in Bahamian history. He achieved something that cannot be forgotten - a constitutional and parliamentary change that broke the old Colonial system democratically and preserved the 'rule of law' in this young country. It must always be taught how amazing that achievement is. I say this as a free thinking Bahamian and not as a person loyal to either Bahamian political party. His latter 15 years were deplorable as power and money obviously corrupted the administration from top to bottom.

A Bahamian

The PLP is "STILL STRONG" and will regain power again, we will rise to the occasion again!
Salute to all the PLP's.
PLP,PLP,PLP all the way live on!

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