FORMER Free National Movement Cabinet minister Frank Watson yesterday sought to “set the record straight” on his recent comments about his party’s chances of winning the next election, saying his words were only an admonishment to all FNMs to “unite” in order to unseat the “fumbling” Christie administration.
On Sunday, Mr Watson told The Tribune the party had a long road ahead and a lot of work to be done to prepare itself for the next election.
“They have been working hard but they must work harder because there is much work to be done. If not, it is hard for me to see us getting to a position of success in the 2017 election,” Mr Watson said earlier this week.
“I think the party needs to be stronger in connecting with the public in dealing with the issues of concern. Our position needs to be stronger and we must come across to the electorate as a party who is unified and of one accord. There should not be many voices that do not reflect the same positions. We need unity.
“But to be honest, I think that we also have another struggle in terms of leadership because I am not sure (whether the public is warming up to Dr Minnis). I think he is trying harder than what we’ve seen in the past but I am not sure whether it is enough.”
The Tribune understands the comments set off a firestorm with FNM supporters, many of whom were upset by Mr Watson’s candour and questioned if he was trying to undermine the party’s leadership.
In his statement released yesterday, Mr Watson sought to explain the rationale behind his comments.
“I have always been candid in my utterances regarding the leadership of my party. Anyone reading the full article published in The Tribune of August 31 would be aware that instead of implying that the FNM cannot win the next election as the headline suggested, I was merely admonishing all FNMs to unite, become fully engaged, and redouble their efforts in persuading the uncommitted to join in our concerted efforts to remove this uncoordinated and fumbling administration from office. Our collective task is to assure the Bahamian people that the FNM team is the best team to rescue our country and to return it to a safe, secure and prosperous nation.”
Mr Watson added yesterday: “Let there be no doubt that I am an FNM and I fully support the leadership of the FNM. I believe in the FNM, because of its stellar record of performance in government; its ideology; its bedrock creed and its vision for a safe and prosperous Bahamas. The record proves that the FNM is the best party to govern our beloved country The Bahamas. I am fully engaged and committed on behalf of our Bahamian people to continue the hard work necessary to unify and better organise our party to secure victory in the next general elections whenever called.”
“The FNM sets, attains and is held to higher standards of conduct in governance than the PLP,” Mr Watson’s statement added. “The FNM is different – distinctly different, from the PLP. Because of this difference, forward-looking ideology, record of achievement, and a legacy of transformation, we remain the best party for The Bahamas. And make no mistake - we are a party, a family.”
Mr Watson has been critical of FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis in the past. In May, Mr Watson told The Nassau Guardian that Dr Minnis was a “work in progress” and reportedly acknowledged that the opposition’s performance has been lackluster.
Mr Watson served in Parliament for 20 years. His last post was deputy prime minister and minister of national security.