Reece Chipman: political malpractice

Dear Editor,

Before he packed up his Georgie bundle, threw a hissy fit and stormed out of the FNM, Centreville MP Reece Chipman should have bothered to learn a thing or two about partisanship.

This is his new buzz word which only underscores his bewildering lack of knowledge of the profession – politics – that he willingly joined.

It was all a big yawn to read that he had left the party – mentally he left the FNM the very day his ego was bruised when the prime minister fired him from a quango that looks after monuments and antiquities.

Chipman squeaked to victory in what is obviously a PLP-leaning seat for which Perry Christie, the loser, has only himself to blame.

Perhaps a bit miffed that his efforts at slaying the dragon didn’t earn him at least a junior minister post, Chipman did the exact opposite of his kin, the studious Hubert Chipman, who also occupied the FNM’s backbench in the last Parliament.

Impetuous to the end and impervious to ridicule, the rookie Chipman rubbed against the grain of his party and his leader, practically challenging the authority of the prime minister.

He voted against the budget, but then complained that he couldn’t hustle a meeting with the PM. The fact that the PM will broker time in his busy schedule for just about any Bahamian, should have tipped off Chipman that his snub was intentional.

He stormed out of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the only body in Parliament controlled by the opposition party, when in fact he could have used that membership to increase his standing in his own party. Even Hubert Ingraham, a future PM, once sat on the PAC.

Then to show how discombobulated his political thinking is, Chipman said he confided with his creator, his family and his friends, before finally canvassing the electors in his constituency.

Obviously, he has put his ego-cart before the political horse that transported him to Parliament. Since he serves the people of Centreville, logic would dictate that they and his conscience should have informed his decision. No divine intervention needed.

Chipman does need to understand the dripping hypocrisy of his being fed up with partisan politics when the very essence of our political system is based on adversarial parties – one or more running the government and the other(s) opposing, waiting their turn to run the government.

Before we had political parties, Parliament and the executive council which advised the governor, consisted of wealthy men who allied together mostly to advance their own selfish interests.

The greatest reform to our system has been the introduction of political parties. Chipman says that 60 years later, this system is no longer fit for purpose. But he doesn’t propose a fix, a solution or an alternative.

Naïvely, he thinks he can better serve the people of Centreville as an independent member of the House. We have had independents before but mostly they were men who were chucked out of the party, were profiling to get picked up by another party, were trying to form their own party, were about to leave politics altogether or, most often, were hoping to get back into the their original party once somehow they managed to topple the leader with whom they disagreed.

Chipman is not a profile in courage. He is a lost soul who never understood the constraints of belonging to a disciplined political party and who perhaps was only given the nomination for Centreville to become a sacrificial lamb.

Then he squeaked past Christie but, in his mind, he did the FNM a favor and an ungrateful Dr. Minnis didn’t pay him his earned adulation. He should be reminded of something the late Sir Lynden Pindling said to another puffed-up politician: “It’s the party’s personality that did it, not yours.”

Chipman will only gain respect if he can run and win in Centreville as an independent, instead of merely sitting in Parliament as one. Christie did it before him but he was not opposed by the FNM, so it is not impossible but highly improbable for Chipman.

For now, his will continue to be a protest vote, but without the sting for the FNM, a privilege that Vaughn Miller and Fred McAlpine still enjoy.

Chipman will cut a lonely figure in Parliament. No influence, no standing, no preference and severely restricted by the rules of Parliament which tend to favor political parties.

His voice is totally dependent on the speaker who must first balance the influence of the parties in Parliament.

Let’s sit back and watch Chipman try to look after the best interest of Centreville having just made them irrelevant in the national political discourse.

– The Graduate


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