The Free National Movement’s (FNM) two-day conclave at its headquarters and Holy Trinity Activity Centre in early November appears to have failed in ameliorating deteriorating relations between the hierarchy of the party and backbenchers: Frederick McAlpine (Pineridge); Reece Chipman (Centreville); Vaughn Miller (Golden Isles) and Travis Robinson (Bain and Grants Town). McAlpine’s comments to the press regarding the failure of the FNM organization in reaching out to him and the other three dissidents is probably an indication that the party has already severed ties with the quartet. However, based on the current mood of the electorate, I am not too certain that the FNM has the luxury of jettisoning unwanted members to the political scrapheap.
The Rebel Four can either meander along the uncertain path they are currently on, or they can take the bait dangled before them by Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis and amalgamate with the PLP. A third option is going at it alone as independent candidates. But based on the track record of independents at elections, that would be a gargantuan risk. What’s more, the idea of the quartet retiring from frontline politics in 2022 appears to be farfetched. That the Pineridge MP would keep the door open with respect to rejoining the PLP is an indication that an amalgamation is quite possible, given the deteriorating relationship between him and the FNM.
Just three weeks after the conclave in which sources informed the press that McAlpine and Robinson apologized to the FNM, the Pineridge MP joined “Enough is Enough” demonstrators who were angrily calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. The demonstrators were probably PLPs. McAlpine looked comfortable marching with them. The PLP would enthusiastically embrace him and the other dissidents.
As I have mentioned in the past, FNM Chair Carl Culmer’s public reprimand of McAlpine after the march underscores a massive disconnect between the FNM top brass and its backbenchers. It seems as if Minnis and Co. don’t have much of a relationship with the backbenchers. The conclave failed miserably in addressing this glaring disconnect.
Minnis and the FNM hierarchy must extend an olive branch to the disgruntled quartet. Don’t take them for granted. Attempt to reconcile with them for the sake of the party. The party continues to hemorrhage far too much support among grassroots. It can ill afford to lose four MPs to the PLP.
– Kevin Evans