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PLP (Bermuda) all the way, all the way PLP (Bahamas)

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Tied at the hip: Dame Lois Browne-Evans and Sir Lynden Pindling helped to nurture two political parties and grow ties between two British colonies
Bahamas foreign affairs minister Fred Mitchell visits the grave of former Progressive Labour Party leader Arnold Francis

In the late 1940s, students from around the Caribbean and North Atlantic attended university in London. These persons included Errol Barrow, of Barbados, Eugenia Charles, of Dominica, Michael Manley, of Jamaica, Lynden Pindling, of the Bahamas, and Lois Browne, of Bermuda.

Together, with others from around the region, they not only studied law but, more importantly, dreamt of their people’s social, economic and political liberation while living under unfair and unjust colonial oppression.

Upon returning to their respective islands, Ms Browne and Mr Pindling established their legal practices and, as importantly, their political careers.

In 1953, the Progressive Liberal Party became the first political party in the Bahamas. Ten years later, the Progressive Labour Party became the first political party in Bermuda.

Tied at the hip

The parties’ ideals were identical: workers’ rights, voters’ rights, and social and political upliftment of the working-class people.

Ironically, the Bahamas had the United Bahamian Party during this era and Bermuda had the United Bermuda Party.

Having had previous experience in winning elections, the PLP Bahamas spared no expense or effort in flying to Bermuda to assist its sister party, PLP Bermuda, in learning how to grow membership, set up branches, canvass and run campaigns.

Such was the bond between Pindling and Browne:

• In 1965, Pindling came to Bermuda with a delegation to support the PLP and speak at its Annual General Conference

• In 1973, when the Commonwealth of the Bahamas gained its independence, Mrs Lois Browne-Evans took a delegation, including her young children, to see the flag of a nation raised for the first time

• In 1990, when PLP Bermuda reopened its headquarters at Alaska Hall, Bahamian prime minister Sir Lynden Pindling and then minister Perry Christie came to be a part of the ceremonies

A fax from Sir Lynden Pindling congratulating Dame Lois Browne-Evans in 1999

• When PLP Bermuda eventually won government in 1998, a delegation from PLP Bahamas, led by Mr Christie, journeyed north to join its brothers and sisters in its next step.

• At the passing of Sir Lynden in August 2000, a delegation led by Bermuda’s premier, Dame Jennifer Smith, attended the state funeral.

Two countries, one party

For many general elections in Bermuda, a delegation from the Bahamas, led by minister Fred Mitchell, travelled to show moral support on polling day.

In October 2022, the prime minister Philip “Brave” Davis followed the footsteps of Sir Lynden Pindling in being the keynote speaker at the Annual General Conference. His opening remarks spoke to the spirit of Dame Lois and Sir Lynden, who must have been smiling down on their political children joined at the hip and fostering the need for continued unity.

Columnist Chris Famous, left, Bahamas prime minister Philip Davis, and foreign affairs minister Fred Mitchell visit the final resting place of Dame Lois Browne-Evans

The next day, the delegation visited the Governor of Bermuda, Rena Lalgie, and held a special joint Cabinet meeting with the Premier, David Burt. However, the most moving part of their day was visiting Alaska Hall and St John’s Church cemetery, the final resting place of two former PLP Leaders, Arnold Francis and Dame Lois Browne-Evans.

Essentially, we are not just two political entities, we are one family, borne of the vision of two young students who bonded together during the dark days of colonialism in the cold streets of postwar London.

Bermuda and the Commonwealth of the Bahamas are separated by 900 miles of the North Atlantic Ocean. Two countries, yet we are inseparable as one family, one party. As such, both parties share the very same motto that guides and inspires us all.

“PLP all the way!”

Christopher Famous is the government MP for Devonshire East (Constituency 11). You can reach him on WhatsApp at 599-0901 or e-mail at carib_pro@yahoo.com

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Published October 28, 2022 at 7:54 am (Updated October 28, 2022 at 3:29 pm)

PLP (Bermuda) all the way, all the way PLP (Bahamas)

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