Chipman: I’m no political sell-out

Centreville MP Reece Chipman said yesterday that he’d rather be a “political potcake than a political sell-out” and charged that no one can talk to him about loyalty to the Free National Movement (FNM).

Chipman made the remark in the House of Assembly, nearly one week after he resigned from the FNM.

He said the government’s handling of Hurricane Dorian was a key reason for his decision to resign.

Yesterday he appeared to respond to comments made by Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis during the funeral of the late Tennyson Wells.

Minnis praised Wells and said that politics in The Bahamas “requires loyalty, fortitude and political maturity”.

Chipman said Minnis did not acknowledge that Wells resigned from the FNM when he considered that the “leadership had become arrogant and disrespectful”.

“I guess myself and Killarney agree on one thing — political maturity is needed in today’s politics,” Chipman said during his contribution to the Disaster Preparedness and Response (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

“Can anyone here point to me political maturity in the vernacular that we live in today?

“You show me political maturity, based on the way it’s defined in this political system, and I show you political sell-out at its best.

“Political maturity are the words you use to describe us as we sell out our ideals, sell out ourselves, sell our families out and, of course, sell our country.

“Your freedom fighters, you treat them like political potcakes. Your constituents, your stalwarts, your council, treating them like political potcakes. You only know them when you need them. Yes, Mr. Speaker, that is what partisan politics does.

“It’s funny, but if I had to make a choice I’d rather be a political potcake than a political sell-out.

“See, you cannot be a part of a party that doesn’t allow you to participate. The word party, comes from the word participation. However, I will take it further so as to say that leadership has its levels, and there is such a thing as maturity in leadership.

“Insecure leadership, Mr. Speaker, will not work in a world so democratized by freedom of speech and the world wide web.”

Chipman also spoke of a “Mr. Politics” who he claimed was given an easy route into politics. It was a clear reference to Minnis.

“Mr. Speaker, we gave Mr. Politics leadership,” he said.

“I know because I was there. Others had to fight. We gave Mr. Politics a free ride in a constituency that you don’t even have to go door-to-door. You just have to email.”

Chipman questioned where “Mr. Politics” was in some of the FNM’s formative events.

“Where were you, Mr. Politician, when I was 17 years old by Paradise Island bridge fighting with Janet Bostwick for the rights of women?” he asked.

“Where were you, Mr. Politics, when in 1987, I was right down here on the streets with a placard in my hand advocating against Loftus Roker’s decision? A decision I believe was right today. But I was there because of party. It was party. So, don’t tell me about loyalty because I don’t remember when I saw you, Mr. Politician.

“Where were you when, in 1992, we walked barefoot in the rain underneath a trailer welcoming the Free National Movement in? Do any of you even remember where the first headquarters was? Come on, man. Jerome Avenue.”

He added, “Leadership that never had to work for nothing is worse than fake news. It’s simply not that easy in politics to cloud insecurity. The system can no longer protect insecure leadership.”

Chipman has been highly critical of the Minnis administration.

In June 2017, he was one of four FNM MPs to vote against the government’s decision to increase value-added tax.

In October 2018, he also voted against the government’s decision to lease the Town Centre Mall —which is owned in part by then-Cabinet minister Brent Symonette — for the relocation of the General Post Office. Earlier this year, Chipman suggested that the government was losing public support, noting that Bahamians were becoming “more frustrated”.

Chipman said yesterday he does not believe his status as an independent representative will impede his chances of being re-elected in his constituency.

“Centreville has elected two premiers [or] prime ministers,” he said.

“Sir Roland Symonette represented Centreville and so did Perry Christie. So, Centreville has voted independent before.

“As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, all of our prime ministers, before the current prime minister, have been independent at some point in their political careers.

“So, they all had to fight… to carry a nation.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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