FNMs speaking out against party policy
It was surprising to read published comments by two Free National Movement(FNM)members this week on the sale of the majority stake in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company(BTC)to Cable and Wireless Communications(CWC).
Bamboo Town MP Branville McCartney said he would wait to see the memorandum of understanding the government signed with CWC, as well as the details of the proposed sale, before he gives his support in Parliament.
“I cannot make a decision without having the facts,”McCartney said toThe Nassau Guardianon Tuesday.”I don’t have all of the facts.”
The government has promised to make all the details of the proposed deal public before it comes up for debate in the House of Assembly.
“Once all the facts are in hand, I’ll be able to make a decision as to whether or not it’s the right thing to do or otherwise,”McCartney added.
FNM Vice-chairman Darron Cash, who is a former party senator, wrote a long opinion piece that was published inThe Guardianon Monday. In it, Cash set out why he strongly opposes the BTC sale to CWC.
“I disagree with the government’s proposed action. I believe it is wrong for the country,”said Cash.
“This decision sells the country short. It is a betrayal of future generations, and like a bad stock on BISX–in which you have little confidence–the government is selling the next generation(my generation)short.”
Cash then used more than 5,000 words to explain why he disagrees with the deal.
Hubert Ingraham has run his FNM in a different manner than Perry Christie has run the Progressive Liberal Party(PLP). PLPs have regularly criticized Christie and the party publicly.
Ingraham’s troops are not known for this behavior. From all accounts, Ingraham, like the late Sir Lynden Pindling, ensures order is maintained by inflicting painful political consequences for dissent. Christie’s followers seem to have little fear of him.
The FNM has had a tough time in the public relations war over the sale of BTC. The union movement, the opposition and some prominent church leaders have opposed the move.
That public relations fight becomes more difficult when FNMs join the public fight against the sale. When young party members question the party’s actions, or disagree with it, the party is weakened during a war.
The danger for the FNM is that these young members of the party can do more damage to it than the PLP.
The PLP has no credibility when it comes to the BTC debate. It too wanted to sell a major chunk of BTC to foreigners.
The PLP is only protesting the CWC sale in an attempt to cause trouble for the government in the run up to the next general election. The opposition is not concerned about the real debate that has emerged surrounding privatization policy and Bahamianization.
But when FNMs speak out publicly on the issue at the risk of being savaged by the party’s leadership, it appears as if the messenger attempting to convince the country of the wisdom of the CWC sale has turned on itself.
The FNM would be wise, for its sake, to conclude the BTC deal as soon as possible. More public dissent from within the governing party will not stop the deal, but it would weaken the FNM at a time when it is attempting to convince Bahamians it should serve another term in office.