Christie: Russell’s firing sign of weakening FNM
Kenneth Russell’s dismissal from Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham’s Cabinet is evidence that the Free National Movement (FNM) is grappling with internal weaknesses which will help the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) in the next election, Opposition Leader Perry Christie said yesterday.
Christie said while the governing party is fighting among its own, the PLP is on the ground campaigning and crafting policies the party would implement if it wins the 2012 election.
“All it adds up to is a strong indication that as the FNM grapples with internal problems, the Progressive Liberal Party is moving from strength to strength,” said Christie yesterday, reacting to the prime minister’s decision to fire Russell last week.
“We are on the ground, we have an effective campaign going and we are satisfied that we are going to win the next election.
“I can be elected and sworn in tomorrow and the next day I will be implementing new strategies [on] crime. That’s how prepared we are and we believe we have thought out our programs, tested our programs and I think the people of this country are increasingly becoming aware that we are the best alternative.
“While we are doing these things the FNM is trying to cope with internal challenges and problems.”
He added that the PLP has set its sights on winning the Grand Bahama seats that are currently held by members of the FNM.
“We are going to go after those seats, we’re going to go after them now as the FNM struggles with their internal problems. We have an effective campaign going on in the country.
“Once they are doing this they are not governing the country and they are not governing the country effectively. They should be focused on governing this country for the remaining days they have in office.
“We have selected outstanding candidates for Grand Bahama. They are new candidates, except for Obie Wilchcombe for West Grand Bahama and Bimini. We have excited new candidates. I have no doubt whatsoever that Grand Bahama will see in them the alternative for what is happening down there.
“The FNM had ministers in place out of Grand Bahama and nothing has happened in their time in Grand Bahama. They went and made misrepresentations as to what they were going to do notwithstanding the impact of the recession. They have been tested and they have failed the test.”
The PLP has selected the following candidates for Grand Bahama: attorney Tanisha Tynes for East Grand Bahama; Senator Dr. Michael Darville for Pineridge; attorney Greg Moss for Marco City; Julian Russell for Central Grand Bahama and incumbent Obie Wilchcombe for the reconfigured West Grand Bahama and Bimini.
Last Friday, the Cabinet Office released a brief statement confirming that Russell – the former minister of housing and current High Rock Member of Parliament – was fired from Cabinet for behaving in a manner inconsistent with his duties as a cabinet minister.
Russell’s constituency was reconfigured by the constituencies commission.
At an FNM meeting in Grand Bahama on Sunday, the prime minister suggested the MP was fired because he spoke to outsiders about an issue that had been discussed in Cabinet.
Former minister Tennyson Wells said the decision to fire Russell is likely to cost the government votes from disgruntled Russell supporters.
He added that he did not think it was a good political move to make so close to the next general election.
“Anytime you have an internal rift in the party like that – Russell has friends, family, cousins, people who he has assisted over the years – as you get near to election people say ‘you did my father or cousin like that, I will pay you back’,” said Wells.
“I don’t think any party wants to be going into a general election with rifts like that. It’s not only Ken Russell, a number of MPs are [upset]”.
Wells represented the Bamboo Town constituency for 20 years – 15 of those as an FNM and five as an independent representative.
When asked if he thought Russell should offer himself to voters as an independent candidate, Wells said: “That’s a matter for him. He [has] to make his own judgment on that. If he feels he needs to make a point and he can win, he should do it.”