Former Free National Movement (FNM) Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine’s divorce from the governing party has now been made official, after the party ratified political newcomer Welbourne Bootle.
McAlpine, judging from his press conference in which he announced his intentions on running as an independent candidate, appears to have been holding out to the very last minute with the faint hope that the FNM top brass would reach out to him with an olive branch. Not surprisingly, that never happened.
The Pineridge MP seems to be troubled by the FNM hierarchy’s lack of interest in reconciliation.
Politics is ruthless. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis, based on my layman’s observation, is not about to forgive McAlpine for his tenacious opposition to his administration, since his sacking as Hotel Corporation chairman in 2018, after his outspokenness on the increase of VAT from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.
While McAlpine still considers himself to be an FNM, it wouldn’t surprise me if it is revealed that his name has been officially expunged from the membership roll.
I consider him to have been a much more effective opposition than the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), whose stock has risen since the advent of COVID-19.
McAlpine seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed his nonconformist role in being a thorn in the side of the FNM, especially with him being cheered on by disgruntled FNMs and PLPs.
This was especially evident when he received a hero’s welcome at Grand Bahama International Airport by hundreds of his Grand Bahamian sympathizers, after his termination from the Hotel Corporation.
McAlpine obviously gauged that incident as a strong show of support in Pineridge. That was three years ago — an eternity in Bahamian politics.
With election fever in the air, many of those supporters have presumably moved on psychologically from McAlpine, aligning themselves with either the FNM or the PLP. The Bahamas is a two-party state.
As a Pentecostal/Charismatic pastor, McAlpine’s inability to play second fiddle to the FNM leader comes as no surprise, as many Charismatic clergymen, particularly American TBN televangelists, disdain denominational rule and the ecclesiastical and hierarchical structure present within the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches.
This was a point mentioned by American historian David Edwin Harrell in his “All Things are Possible: The Healing and Charismatic Revivals in Modern America”.
As an independent candidate, McAlpine is not walking on uncharted territory. He ran before as an independent candidate in the 2002 general election in Marco City, after the PLP allegedly reneged on an agreement to field him in that area, choosing instead to run attorney Pleasant Bridgewater.
As an independent candidate, McAlpine got just 117 votes. Bridgewater, who won Marco City, received 1,918 votes. The FNM’s David Thompson got 1,641 votes — 1,524 more than McAlpine, who came in third place in a race with five contestants.
If there’s anyone who understands the steep, uphill battle independent candidates traditionally face in Bahamian elections, it is McAlpine.
With McAlpine going against the FNM’s Bootle and the PLP’s Ginger Moxey, he might be relegated to playing spoiler to either the former or the latter.
I sincerely believe that McAlpine would prefer to do that to the party that just handed him his divorce papers.
— Kevin Evans