PLP MPs say there is no parallel between the OBA and The Bahamas’ FNM
Progressive Labour Party MPs yesterday dismissed former United Bermuda Party Premier David Gibbons’ claim the One Bermuda Alliance can mirror the success of the current ruling party in the Bahamas.
They argued the foundation of the OBA was nothing like the formation of the successful Free National Movement, as Sir David had suggested in yesterday’s Bermuda Sun.
Sir David had pointed to parallels between Bermuda and the Bahamas, where the United Bahamian Party ruled for many years before falling from grace and repeatedly losing to the Progressive Liberal Party.
The Bahamian UBP eventually dissolved before being replaced by the FNM, which later displaced the PLP as Government.
But former UBP leader Wayne Furbert said whereas the OBA is a reunification of former UBP members, the FNM was in fact formed from dissidents of three parties: the then-ruling Progressive Liberal Party, the United Bahamian Party and the National Democratic Party.
“The OBA is not no FNM,” he told the House during the Motion to Adjourn.
“There is no parallel between the OBA and FNM in no shape or form. You are trying to tell me there’s a difference between the OBA and UBP?”
He added that such remarks from a UBP legend like Sir David help tie the OBA to the UBP, which he said the new group desperately wants to avoid.
“It’s the change of the heart that makes a difference, not the change of a name,” he said.
Environment Minister Walter Roban said much of the FNM’s success was down to its leader Hubert Ingraham, and he doesn’t see any equivalent in the Opposition ranks.
OBA leader John Barritt said he was saddened that the matter was being dealt with on the floor of the House.
“For the longest time, I think all members will agree, we have been calling for a change in politics in this Country,” said Mr Barritt.
“You can hear people say it all the time: can you please do better? This is a genuine attempt to try and change the old UBP-PLP dynamic.
“Already we get decried and criticised. It’s people’s right to do that and there’s political mileage in that.”
Attorney General Michael Scott argued it was legitimate for Mr Furbert to reflect on an article in the Bermuda Sun.
UBP leader Kim Swan then suggested the way forward was to get rid of party politics altogether.
Mr Swan spoke of the racial divide in Bermuda politics, saying many MPs have very safe seats while others, including himself, have to fight marginals. “Don’t be so disingenuous to think that we live in some level playing field,” he said.
“A person so ordained to be in a safe knows they will get voted in. It’s a totally different life to those in marginals.
“That’s the dynamic. If you really want to figure out how to change politics here, you have to be prepared to look at proportional representation or look at a model like Jersey or Guernsey that have truly independent MPs.”
PLP MP Marc Bean said in recent weeks the OBA has shown a lack of transparency and accountability, having spent the past 12 years accusing the PLP Government of doing just that.
“We see there’s principles that get pushed and set aside for nothing but political expedience,” he said.
“Yet they have the nerve to consistently hold my Government to the fire when it applies to them.”
He said the Opposition has shown political sorcery in trying to convince a large section of the public, “black people” according to Minister Glenn Blakeney who called across the floor, that they’re not the UBP.
“I would have more respect if you be yourself and treat people as you find them instead of taking the electorate as fools and insulting their intelligence,” he said.
Responding to the Sir David interview, Mr Bean said the FNM had taken 23 years to get power.
He asked why the big cats are endorsing the OBA, adding: “It reveals again the political expediency of the pressure of an imminent election. What’s driving it? Power and control.”
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