The Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) is entering “dangerous” waters if it plans on excluding veteran politicians as candidates in the next general election, said Former Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller, who insisted that there is no way anyone can stop him from running.
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 moving forward,” he said.
“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.
“I don’t know who the hell this new crew is to begin with, a bunch of little rookies [who] can’t do a damn thing.
“That’s why the country in the state that it is in now [with] a bunch of rookies who ain’t have no experience, running the place into the ground, and I’m never going to go along with that program.
“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.”
Miller said he would explore running as an independent if denied a nomination by the party.
“I will do what I [have to] do,” he said.
“We will be on the ticket in Tall Pines. You can take that to our good Lord and Savior.”
Miller’s comments come more than eight months after party leader Philip Brave Davis indicated that with few exceptions, the PLP will not offer candidates who were rejected by voters in previous elections.
Davis made the comment during an interview with Nassau Guardian columnist Philip Galanis for his column, “Consider This”.
PLP Deputy Leader Chester Cooper has also said that he would prefer to see more fresh candidates run than those of the old guard.
However, Miller insisted that candidates must have paid their dues to the party and to the country.
“You can never tell Leslie Miller that,” he said.
“You can’t tell me that a Damian Gomez cannot run. You can’t tell me that Alfred Gray, if he wishes, cannot run; and others like them.
“That can’t happen because their defense of the government in Parliament and outside Parliament is second to none and you need people there with experience, the know-how, the knowledge and the competence to get it right.
“So, I love to bring in new people but you need all, except for about four to the top.
“You will have chaos if that was to happen and you are seeing it now with this government.”
Miller said he has made these sentiments clear to the party’s leadership.
“This party is for everybody,” he continued.
“Ain’t no four people going to decide our future about, ‘This the team’.”
As he awaited the results of the party’s internal elections on Friday, Miller said he took issue that none of the party’s veteran members spoke at the convention. He also questioned the plans put forth by Cooper on Thursday night, outlining the party’s vision.
Cooper said if elected, the party would explore the viability of transitioning the country to a republic and the implementation of a national youth service, a revolution in education, harnessing the country’s natural resources and campaign finance reform, among other initiatives.
However, Miller said that was the first time he or any of his colleagues ever heard of any of the plans.
Asked whether he believes the party needs to incorporate both veteran and new PLPs moving forward, Miller said, “Just follow what the sensible ones do. Follow what Mr. [Hubert] Ingraham did. Follow what Sir Lynden [Pindling] did. That’s your recipe for winning, right?”
He added that the party doesn’t have a chance of winning the next general election if it continues on its current path.
“You know how difficult it is to find 20 new people who are going to put their family on the line, their reputation on the line?” Miller asked.
“…Track record is what it’s all about. You either like us or hate us but you know about our track record. You ain’t gotta like me but you know when you call that phone, Potcake [will] pick it up.”
The PLP won only four of the 39 seats in the House of Assembly in the May 2017 general election.
A post-election report commissioned by the leadership of the party pointed to ‘Christie fatigue’, the failure to address ‘wrongdoings’ of Cabinet ministers, persistent corruption perceptions, the constitutional and gaming referenda, the handling of the Rubis oil spill, ‘unnecessary’ spending on carnival and poor response in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew as key reasons for the defeat.