By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
PINERIDGE MP Frederick McAlpine hit out at Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis yesterday, likening the nation’s leader to a coach keeping a “good player” on the bench due to “personal or petty” reasons.
During a wide-ranging press conference at his office yesterday - three days after not attending a meeting Dr Minnis held with supporters in Grand Bahama – Mr McAlpine also expressed scepticism his party would win the next general election.
He also said he did not agree with politicians going around calling other parties corrupt, as Dr Minnis did to the Progressive Liberal Party on Friday.
Despite his evident frustration with the FNM, Mr McAlpine did not say he was leaving the party or is considering joining the Official Opposition but added he had “options.”
Dr Minnis, who indicated that he intends to retire after serving a second term as prime minister, on Friday called on supporters to support the four other parliamentarians in Grand Bahama and others to carry on the leadership, but did not mention Mr McAlpine.
“If you don’t want me on the team, trade me, but don’t have a good player sitting on the bench and then saying he is not a team player when the coach just don’t want to play him because of personal or petty reasons,” Mr McAlpine said.
“Obviously, I don’t know what it is. But when you are in leadership you really can’t be petty, and as a MP I can’t be petty for him not calling my name.
“So if you tend to be a leader you got to lead by example. I was not there, and perhaps because I was not there or in his view (I was not mentioned). But at the end of the day, my responsibility is to the people of Pineridge and my responsibility is to make sure they get due representation, and by extension Grand Bahama.”
When asked he if thinks Dr Minnis was excluding him, Mr McAlpine said: “He can exclude me from whatever he wants to exclude me from. As long as the people of Pineridge and the people of the Bahamas do not exclude me, I am in good standing. I want to be in good standings with the people of the Bahamas rather than a political organisation.
“It might break me down with members of the party, but it sure lifts me up with the people of Commonwealth of the Bahamas,” he said.
Expounding on why he did not attend Friday’s FNM meeting, Mr McAlpine, who is a reverend, said he had a previous church engagement.
“This was not a meeting of importance, it was not a town meeting. If it was, it should not have been held at the FNM headquarters in the first place. If it was held someplace else, other than the FNM headquarters, then it might have warranted me being there. This was more a meeting for party supporters rather than the people,” he said.
Mr McAlpine said the FNM today is unrecognisable and seems to have a United Bahamian Party “spirit”.
Asked if he is considering joining the PLP, he responded: “I am a Bahamian who is pro-people and I support anybody who supports the Bahamians people.”
He added: “I still feel like I have options, and it is still time for me to take an introspective view and continue to listen – I am for the people.”
The outspoken MP also referred to Dr Minnis’ failure to address calls for the resignations of Health Minister Dr Duane Sands and National Security Minister Marvin Dames as he indicated he would. A judge called their conduct relating to Frank Smith’s bribery and extortion trial “egregious”. Mr Smith was acquitted of the charges.
“I think what is even more important than what the PM has said is the fact that people are still waiting for an explanation. You fire three persons because of the Westminster system. I think the greater problem is this, the PM said that when he would have held this meeting he would address the issue as it pertains to his ministers. He did not do that.
“These are the kinds of things the cause leadership and the governing party to seem to lack integrity. That should have been priority; if you tell the people you are going to do something, then people expect to hear from you.
“The Bahamas is waiting to hear the PM’s take on what the chief magistrate had to say concerning his ministers in the trial of corruption that was held as it pertains to the Frank Smith case.”
At Friday’s meeting, Dr Minnis also said that the PLP is the very definition of corruption, an assertion Mr McAlpine took issue with.
“There have been people in the PLP that we might have somehow thought that their behaviour might have been considered corrupt . . .(those allegations) have yet to be proven in a court of law, but you cannot say that. Just how we can throw stones at the PLP, stones can be thrown at the FNM with similar allegations. Does that make the FNM a corrupt group? I don’t think so.
“So I can’t go around calling any political organisation as corrupt. Some people may see us (the FNM) as corrupt.”