Saturday, Nov 18, 2017
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They will fight you on your jobs record

Since the Free National Movement (FNM) won the May 10 general election it has done a good job exposing Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) misdeeds during the party’s last term in office. Millions went to cronies. There was misfeasance.

The FNM is still on a roll revealing. Rarely does a sitting of the House of Assembly pass without a Cabinet minister bringing a file detailing further PLP sins.

The PLP was at its lowest point after the election. It only won four seats and 37 percent of the vote. Some of its base went against it.

Since then the party has tried to move on. At its convention Philip Brave Davis was elected leader; Chester Cooper deputy leader and Fred Mitchell chairman.

The PLP has made a shrewd calculation that time may prove correct. The opposition knows the FNM name-and-shame policy could only last so long before voters get bored. Eventually they will say, “Enough! We know the PLP was corrupt. What are you doing to improve our lives and financial situations?”

The past four years have been a mix of stagnation and recession. The last unemployment report indicated there were 40,175 people who were either unemployed or barely employed.

Here the FNM is weak. Dr. Hubert Minnis’ FNM does not talk enough about jobs. It does not speak enough of its economic vision. It does not sell what it has coming that would help employ some of the thousands who are broke and hopeless.
Whereas Minnis’ passion is anti-corruption, the great interest of the people is jobs. The PLP knows this.

Minnis should expect increased attack from the opposition on this point. The PLP will brand him as an out-of-touch, do-nothing leader because his government does not have a robust jobs agenda.

It is still early in the FNM’s term. Just six months have passed. The FNM should know, however, that elections are not lost in the weeks before general elections. They are lost when those in power become detached from the realities of the people. They pursue one course when the people want something else. The people grow weary of disappointment over the months and years and turn away long before they cast their ballots.

There is restlessness in the electorate fueled by the prolonged effects of the financial crisis of 2008. In 2009 our GDP contracted by 4.2 percent and we lost 17,000 jobs around that time. We haven’t recovered.

We think comfortable Bahamians who voted against the PLP last election would do so again next time. The last Christie administration was the worst government we have had. The calculation is different, though, for those who are struggling. They want jobs. They want to have money to pay their bills.

Bahamians in desperate situations will judge this government on whether or not they have opportunity, whether or not they have something in their pockets five years after May 10, 2017. If they are still broke they’d happily vote for Davis and the PLP.

It must be remembered that the last administration to win re-election did so 20 years ago. It will be 25 years by the time we vote again. Bahamians have no loyalty to parties.

The PLP sees the FNM’s weakness. It will press the issue. The only answer the FNM could have that the people would accept is jobs. Other achievements minus economic growth and employment would not be enough to secure another FNM victory.

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