EDITOR, The Tribune.
Saw a video clip of Free National Movement MP for Pineridge Frederick McAlpine breaching a makeshift barricade which was presumably erected by officers of the Royal Bahamas Police Force on Rawson Square at the Enough is Enough demonstration. The scores of angry Bahamian protesters were obviously venting their frustration at the Minnis administration, which came to high office just 18 months ago. As an FNM supporter, I am very concerned about the FNM's current standing in the eyes of a disgruntled electorate. Obviously the governing party's favourability has plummeted, due to escalating BPL bills, the VAT increase and the leasing of the Town Centre Mall to the state, to name a few. BPL (formerly BEC) has been a dumpster fire for decades. It is unfair to lay the blame for BPL's failures on the doorsteps of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. The decision to increase VAT is a hard sell to frustrated Bahamians, however. Yet with massive deficits year after year and a National Debt in the billions, the Minnis administration had few other options. They could've decided to slash the civil service employment numbers, seeing that the government payroll accounts for approximately 60 to 70 percent of government revenue each year. Such a decision would be political suicide and would undoubtedly lead to more Keep Ya Corned Beef and Enough is Enough demonstrations.
On the flip side, if Minnis decides to do nothing about the deficit and the economic state of the Treasury grows exponentially worse, the Bahamian people would punish the FNM in 2022 under such a scenario. Bahamians would then complain about Minnis' mismanagement of the national coffers. Bahamians are hard to figure out. I don't know what to make of them.
With a robust economy and the decreasing murder rate in New Providence, poll numbers for the Minnis administration should really be in the high double digits. The public relations machinery of the FNM has failed to consistently tout its successes and to adequately explain several unpopular decisions which were made by the Minnis administration to the fickle Bahamian people. In all likelihood, the Enough is Enough protest may have been an initiative staged by Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) operatives. That McAlpine would take part in the demonstration once again underscores a troubling disconnect between him and the FNM hierarchy. True to form, the Pineridge MP got his 15 minutes of fame by breaching the barricade and joining in the protest against his own party. One gets the impression that McAlpine sees the handwriting on the wall and has conveniently decided to join the anti-Minnis bandwagon. To many frustrated Bahamians, he is their voice in Parliament, while many FNM MPs are busy towing the party line for fear of losing their lucrative posts.
With no Cabinet portfolio, the Pineridge MP is in a strategic position to play the role of a nonconformist and renegade. At this juncture, McAlpine really has nothing to lose, as he is probably already viewing himself as a lame duck FNM MP. McAlpine will probably run as an independent or PLP in 2022. By joining Enough is Enough protestors, McAlpine signalled to the FNM just how far he is willing to go in his opposition against the governing party.
November 21, 2018.