Fred Mitchell: Political chameleon and rank opportunist

Dear Editor,

Like a chameleon, Frederick Mitchell changes his colors and political stripes depending on the needs of the moment and his self-serving political survival and relevance. His principles seem to change as fast as a growing child changes his shoe size.

Many years ago, some people admired his activism. That now seems like centuries ago. Today, he is widely seen as a rank opportunist who will seemingly change his positions and principles depending on who and what he needs to aggrandize himself.

Today, he styles himself as Mr. Caribbean because he wants to be seen as a player or big man in CARICOM, although his campaigning to make another opportunist, Baroness Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth secretary general, revealed his chameleon instincts.

Baroness Scotland previously served as attorney general for England and Wales. She left Dominica as a toddler and spent her life in the United Kingdom as a loyal British subject. She had very little attachment to the Caribbean.

Yet Mitchell supported her over the decidedly more capable champion and son of the Caribbean, Sir Ronald Sanders, of Antigua and Barbuda.

Baroness Scotland’s tenure has been unremarkable but has been dogged by a number of complaints about her management style and spending habits as secretary general, which have been widely reported on in the British press.

In aggressively promoting Baroness Scotland, Mitchell showed greater loyalty to the interests of others over the Caribbean. But that should not have come as a surprise.

Almost 40 years ago in a December 3, 1981 newspaper story under the title “Mitchell calls for Pindling’s resignation”, Mitchell, the political chameleon, blasted the Caribbean.

He said, “Pindling continues to want us to associate with these regimes down in the Caribbean. He is always talking about white people are trying to do us one thing or the next to us.

“So instead of strengthening ties with the United States of America, he is talking about us joining up with these broke countries in the Caribbean.”

At one time, the young Mitchell was Sir Lynden’s blue-eyed wonder boy. He was large and in charge at ZNS. 

Then Mitchell fell out with his political masters. It was a nasty falling out, with all manner of threats and insults flying back and forth.

In that same December 1981 newspaper story, Mitchell, the former political lackey, turned against the Pindlings: “Fred Mitchell, leader of the People’s Democratic Force (PDF) called last night for an emergency meeting of the country’s major church leaders to persuade Prime Minister Pindling to resign from office and leave the country with his wife.”

Not only did he want Sir Lynden to step down, he wanted both Sir Lynden and Lady Pindling to leave the country! No other opponent of Sir Lynden ever went that far.

Mitchell has said many other nasty things about Pindling. A whole decade later in a Tribune story of July 16, 1991, Mitchell showed that he was still determined to attack Sir Lynden at every turn: “One would expect that the prime minister of The Bahamas should spend the national day of The Bahamas with his people and not in another man’s country. The fact that surgery was performed on his bad eye is irrelevant. The eye was bad for years. The surgery was elective surgery.”

He went on to say that, “Sir Lynden’s absence showed nothing but contempt for the Bahamian people.”

With no real political home and the FNM ascendant, Mitchell was put in the Senate by Hubert Ingraham. He also used that platform to pursue his self-serving agenda. But the FNM was wise not to give him a nomination. They knew his political nature.

As the political weather changed again and Mitchell needed a political base, he went back to the PLP.

Then he started to accompany other officials at the side of Dame Marguerite for her annual visits to Sir Lynden’s grave to commemorate his life.

Mitchell has no shame. He will use anyone, living or dead, in pursuit of his political survival. He seems to have no other existence than politics. This is quite sad as his political career may well be approaching its end.

He will never become prime minister because most in the country have made up their minds as to who Frederick Mitchell really is.

He now serves Brave Davis, his newest political master. But he will turn on Davis with lightning speed if Brave begins to falter. Mitchell has loyalty to no one and to no cause save himself.

This is one of the reasons that his political career is coming to an end. If the PLP loses this election Mitchell will go into a meltdown that will make a nuclear plant meltdown look like a picnic.

Sir Lynden’s daughter Monique Pindling said at a PLP convention after the party lost the last election: “Some in our party became anti-Pindling but quick to quote or call his name when it was politically expedient to do so.”

Though she did not say so, Mitchell fits that bill exactly.

– BC

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