Zhivargo Laing unfairly targeted by PLP PR machine
As a constituent of Marco City, I am very ambivalent about the decision of the Free National Movement (FNM) party to move Zhivargo Laing to the Fort Charlotte constituency in New Providence. Laing, who is the Minister of State for Finance, has represented Marco City since May 2007. He had also represented Fort Charlotte from 1997 to 2002. He defeated the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) member of Parliament for that constituency Franklyn Wilson in the 1997 general election. He lost his seat to Alfred Sears in 2002.
According to the press, the decision to not run Laing in Marco City was recently made by the FNM council. I understand that he has already been introduced to FNM supporters in that Nassau constituency. I am surprised that this decision was made at this juncture. If anything, I initially thought that the party would have moved Laing to either the new Central Grand Bahama constituency or even to the East Grand Bahama constituency. Both of these constituencies are considered to be safe seats for the FNM. Instead, the party has made the decision to move the minister of state for finance to the shark infested waters of the PLP in New Providence.
In my view, this is a very risky move by the FNM. I say this because Sears has won that seat by comfortable margins in the last two elections. Perhaps the prime minister has a very good plan in place to help Laing win that seat which can rightly be called a PLP stronghold. As far as I am concerned, the FNM will be the underdog in New Providence heading into the general election. I believe that Laing stands a better chance of winning in Grand Bahama.
According to the press, the PLP will be running Dr. Andre Rollins in Fort Charlotte. Dr. Rollins used to be a member of the National Development Party (NDP). He ran in the Elizabeth by-election in February 2010. If my memory serves me correctly, he came in fourth place in that election contest behind the PLP’s Ryan Pinder, the FNM’s Dr. Duane Sands and Cassius Stuart of the Bahamas Democratic Movement (BDM). By all accounts, Dr. Rollins is very dynamic and intelligent. Even though Laing faces an uphill battle in Fort Charlotte, he can still win that seat. Nowadays, anything is possible in Bahamian politics.
I am one of several Grand Bahamians who is saddened by the news that Laing will be leaving Marco City. The FNM party has yet to give a reason for this abrupt decision. Just recently Laing held his annual Marco City Christmas Party at Independence Park, Freeport City. This was on Saturday, December 17. One can only surmise that the FNM party was still in the proverbial ‘valley of indecision’ regarding Laing’s future in Marco City on the day the party was held. I can tell you that some FNM supporters in Marco City are not too happy about this decision.
Some PLP political analysts are now saying that Laing and the leadership of the FNM have made the decision to move the Marco City incumbent to Fort Charlotte because the party knows that he would be defeated by the PLP’s Gregory Moss. These PLP political analysts believed that Marco City residents would have rejected Laing because of the present recession in the nation’s second city. The PLP public relations machine has done a good job at getting people to believe that Laing, as the minister of state for finance, had ran Grand Bahama’s economy aground.
These people have conveniently ignored the Great Recession that has devastated the economy of our number one benefactor, the United States of America. They have also ignored the fact that Grand Bahama has been in this recession since the year 2000, or thereabouts. That is some seven years before Laing became the MP for Marco City.
The detractors of Zhivargo Laing have also conveniently forgotten to remind residents on Grand Bahama that the Christie administration also experienced difficulty in jump starting the economy between 2002 and 2007. The only thing that I can point to on Grand Bahama that came under the PLP’s watch is the Ginn Development. And to say that Ginn has been a major disappointment would be a ‘major understatement’. Granted, the economy on Grand Bahama wasn’t as bad as it is now. But it was bad nonetheless. My point is this, you cannot place the blame for Grand Bahama’s economic woes at the doorstep of the minister of state for finance. If the PLP wins the upcoming general election, they too will experience difficulty fixing Grand Bahama’s economy. Mark my words.
All the same, I too believe that Laing was in for the fight of his political life in Marco City. This was due to the fact that his detractors had waged a relentless campaign against him over the past two years. Laing was relentlessly attacked in the press by his political opponents, including Bahamas Press. Critics have accused Laing of not being a good Member of Parliament for Marco City and of doing a horrible job of managing the national economy. As I have stated already, you cannot chide Laing for our economic woes.
With respect to him not being a good representative, I think that he has done a decent job, considering the fact that we are in the midst of a devastating global recession. Moreover, there are many members of Parliament whose level of performance is nowhere near Laing’s. Yet, Laing is the only MP who has been relentlessly targeted by these people. This is unfair. Laing is one of the few MPs who is always available to his constituents at his Marco City constituency office in Mayfield Park. He is also one of the best debaters in the House of Assembly.
If you listen to these people, one would think that Laing has done absolutely nothing in Marco City. Laing’s detractors have given people the impression that the Marco City MP had totally neglected Grand Bahama during the past four-and-a-half years. Now they are the very ones saying that he has abandoned the residents of Marco City.
Marco City is losing a remarkable MP. He will be greatly missed. The residents of Fort Charlotte are fortunate to have such a fine candidate in Laing. I hope they give him an opportunity to represent them again in the House of Assembly.
In the final analysis, Laing’s decision to leave Marco City is understandable, at least from a political standpoint. His detractors have caused too many residents on Grand Bahama to view him with a jaundiced eye. After what they have done to him in the press, I really don’t blame him for leaving Marco City. I wish Laing all the best in Fort Charlotte.
– Kevin Evans