Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Deputy Leader Chester Cooper said yesterday that the party “will not be bullied” in its candidate selection process for the next general election, insisting that every candidate will have to follow the party’s rules.
Cooper was responding to former Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller who warned last week that the party is entering “dangerous” waters if it plans on excluding veteran politicians as candidates in the next general election.
Miller also said that no one will stop him from running, even if he has to explore the option as an independent candidate if denied a nomination by the party.
Cooper’s comments also echo those of PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell, who said yesterday that no one has been told that they are unable to vie for nomination, however, the party’s rules will be applied across the board.
“There is a process for candidate selection and vetting,” said Cooper when reached for comment on the matter.
“Anyone interested in a PLP candidacy should acquaint themselves with it.
“Our party is fresh off a successful convention and is in a period of renewal.
“We will do what we must to regain the trust, confidence and vote of the Bahamian people and we will not be distracted.”
The PLP won only four of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly in the May 2017 general election.
In an interview with The Nassau Guardian on the sidelines of the party’s National General Convention last week, Miller spoke to the current state of the party and its future.
“I think we are going to put ourselves in a position, but what is dangerous is that some of them in this party, in the echelon of the party, the higher-ups, would wish to eliminate most, if not all, of the former members of Parliament,” he said.
“…Experience is good. People with the wherewithal to make the right decisions on behalf of the Bahamian people is what is needed and ain’t nobody gone run me out of here and ain’t nobody gone tell me I can’t run; nobody.”
However, Mitchell maintained yesterday that that is a non-issue.
The PLP chairman said at the end of the day the party has a ‘new sheriff in town’ and the leadership of the party will ensure that the rules set out for candidacy selection will be followed.
“There’s a process and everyone who follows those rules will get a fair hearing,” he said.
“But no one from the start has been told, ‘no’. And no one from the start will be given a bligh.
“Everybody has to follow the rules, and that applies to everyone.
“I think the only exceptions to the process of going through the candidates’ module is that of the four incumbents; other than that, everybody has to follow the same rules and there’s no prejudice, no bias, so on and so forth.
“We just plan to end up with a good team of people who are interested in public policy, to be good public figures representing the Progressive Liberal Party.”
Mitchell noted that the party’s candidates committee has already met twice.
“Anybody who wants to run for office in the Progressive Liberal Party has to write the secretary-general to indicate that they want to run, their resume, their particular interest, i.e. in what constituency,” he explained.
“The secretary-general then says this looks like a sensible candidate and writes the branch and says you now have someone who is canvassing in your area and that person should be reviewed by the branch and we await your recommendations.
“…Even if that process has not been initiated, in every constituency there’s active canvassing going on by people who are aspiring to be candidates.”
Mitchell added that the country can expect a range of candidates who will reflect its demographics.
“I have indicated that I believe there’s probably going to be like a 75 percent turnover in the next election compared to what took place in the last election,” he continued.
“That’s my feeling given those who have indicated that they won’t be running again.”