Former minister says third party success is ‘near impossible’
Despite his popularity, it would be “somewhere near impossible” for Bamboo Town MP Branville McCartney to be successful if he formed a third party and offered a full slate of candidates in the next general election, according to retired politician Sir Arlington Butler.
“Bran McCartney is a single individual,” Sir Arlington said in an interview yesterday withThe Nassau Guardian. “He may be attractive to some, but the number of people he’s able to attract to his side is minimal and I do not believe that a small group can survive at this time.”
Sir Arlington served as a member of P for the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) and as an MP and Cabinet minister for the Free National Movement(FNM). He was also Speaker of the House of Assembly (1972-1977).
McCartney and his advisors have reportedly considered engaging potential candidates at least 41 key people. Some are in the FNM and PLP and others are not currently in front-line politics.
He has also reportedly had soft talks with several notable Bahamians about filling certain positions should his party win the next election.
McCartney’s preferred candidate picks appear to be among the 35 to 55 age group, with some exceptions.
Some political observers think McCartney can be successful. However, Sir Arlington said Bahamians “want to go with what they know or what they have been a part of establishing.”
“When you are not associated with one of the major parties you are definitely on the outside. You will find that it’s going to take a long time for people to warm up to any party. The PLP was started in 1953. Many of those people who built the PLP happen to still be alive and they can still remember that they put all their energy and efforts into it so they are attached emotionally. So they are not going to simply abandon that for a new party,” said Sir Arlington.
He added that the same thing applies for those who helped build the FNM.
The Nassau Guardianinterviewed several people yesterday, soliciting views on the third party issue.
Most older voters agreed with Sir Arlington, including 62-year-old Hazel Obasi. She doesn’t think McCartney’s third party will be successful at this time.
“He needs time to grow,” she said, adding that she would continue to support the PLP.
Raymond Watkins, 50, a self-employed transportation specialist, shared a similar view.
“I don’t think the Bahamian people will buy into a third a party at this time,” he said. “To run a successful campaign takes way more than the support he will be able to gather.”
Philip Armbrister, a collections officers at Doctors Hospital, said while he wishes McCartney the best, he thinks McCartney would do better to join the PLP.
“He has the potential to be a prime minister. He is very sharp and I admire his intelligence. He is very positive. He knows what he wants. He would be a great asset to the party that he chooses and I think that should be the PLP.”
Alfred Rolle, 44, argued that Bahamians would not be receptive to a third party for at least another 10 years.
However, younger voters such as Renbert Mortimer, 21, offered a different view. He said now is the time for a third party.
“I totally believe that a third party would be nice. You constantly have FNM or PLP. It would be good to have something different. Branville McCartney, he is something different. If he is running for prime minister, that’s excellent but one person can’t do it alone. We need to find more people like him who want to take a stand and lead this nation.”
Twenty-year-old Dylon McKenzie said he would also support a third party. However, he added that he does not think it would be successful.
“People are loyal to their parties and vote for what their family follows,” he said.
Eva Stubbs, a 19-year-old college student, said McCartney is the type of person she would vote for.
“I think that the young people need someone that can be in tune with them,” she said.
While younger voters will have an impact on the outcome of the next election, Sir Arlington said he thinks the electorate will be largely made up of people who are between the age of 30-45.
“The younger voters the microwave generation they believe that change can be brought about in a hurry. Our people are opposed to quick change,” he said.
Asked if McCartney should follow through with his third party plan, Sir Arlington said, “I would advise them against it. I don’t think it will work. His success will come with him getting family, financers, supporters to come into his constituency and isolate the voters there and be able to impress them.”
“Bahamians are not risk takers. Courage is a rare commodity in this society and there are few people ready to make sacrifices.”
Sir Arlington said if he were to offer advice to McCartney he would say, ”You must have courage, at the same time you must be prepared to make sacrifice and thirdly you must have patience. It is not going to be overnight.”