Mass delusion in FNM election report 

Dear Editor,

Aside from revealing the Free National Movement (FNM) has little qualms about throwing good money after bad, a report commissioned by the party to examine the reasons for its loss at the 2021 general election polls shows an organization that still has a significant faction that simply will not face reality.

The report painstakingly and embarrassingly goes out of its way to blame everything but the main person everyone knows led to the party’s loss – former Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

I need not expound on Minnis’ shortcomings as a leader as they have been well documented.

However, that the report appears to use anecdotal and perhaps non-existent data to exonerate Minnis from responsibility speaks to a party, or elements therein, in deep denial.

And that does not speak well of the future of the FNM.

When responding to the question of whether this was a wave election, the report states, “No. The numbers in this case just don’t lie, this was a base election. Voter turnout tanked by 39,000 votes. Essentially the swing voters didn’t show up…at all. Overall, nearly 80,000 Bahamian voters stayed home.

“Should we have known and prepared better for this? Absolutely. Should the turnout operation have been more focused on pure FNM voters? Most likely.”

Firstly, it was clearly a wave election.

A wave of FNM MPs lost seats; a wave of PLP candidates, mostly new to the national political scene, won seats.

When a single political term sees you go from 35 seats to seven, describing it as anything outside the realm of a wave is delusional.

People who are experienced in politics know that in terms of winning it does not matter how many people come out to vote, all that matters in the end is how many of those people vote for you.

If you are at the point of having to convince FNMs to vote for FNMs, something has gone seriously wrong.

Also, any party whose leader calls an election in the midst of what was then the worst surge of infections and hospitalizations of the COVID-19 pandemic should know that robust voter turnout is not a foregone conclusion.

There was also the fact that voter registration was poorly handled.

Under the heading, “Should Prime Minister Minnis be blamed for this loss?”, the report stated, “not entirely”.

When the report asked if it was fair in this case that the leader takes responsibility, it said “not entirely”.

The report mentions Hurricane Dorian and the pandemic as being extraordinary challenges particularly when stacked up against the fact that no administration has been re-elected since 1997.

Nobody in their right mind blames the former prime minister for Dorian.

He was blamed for his administration’s many failures in the aftermath.

As for the pandemic, one wonders if the report’s authors considered that Minnis’ assumption of the role of the sole competent authority since the beginning of the pandemic and the autocratic manner in which he wielded those powers infuriated much of the public.

I also wonder if they considered that both Andrew Holness’ Jamaica Labour Party and Mia Mottley’s Barbados Labour Party increased the number of seats they held after elections were called in the midst of the pandemic.

That voters stayed home in droves is a direct indictment of the last administration’s response to the pandemic.

That the report focused so intently on all the other factors that could have contributed to the party’s loss while presenting no evidence of exit polling or canvassing of the party faithful on the ground is telling.

When the FNM held a conclave last month to analyze the reasons for its defeat, it concluded that the party’s loss was connected to its failure to move with urgency; the administration’s concentration of power in the hands of the competent authority; its lack of inclusive collaboration and decision-making with party members; the manner it interacted with stakeholders, particularly its combative relationship with the media; the failure to talk with rank and file party members; and the failure to address public service matters, among others.

The FNM knows it lost the election for myriad reasons – chief among them the disastrous leadership of the former prime minister.

Some prominent party insiders say they consider the report “sanitized and shallow”.

They are correct.

If the FNM is to do more than just wait for public disaffection with the current administration to set in to place it in a position to win the next general election, it should start by embracing reality.

The Observer

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