An opposition resolution of no confidence in the prime minister was flipped into a vote of confidence and passed in the House of Assembly. This was expected and predicted.
The opposition got to voice its misgivings about the prime minister’s leadership and to once again catalogue what its members see as the less than transparent actions by a government which came to office on promises of fighting corruption and being accountable and transparent.
One governing party member, Vaughn Miller, jumped ship, becoming an independent, and a member of Cabinet, Michael Pintard, “dog whistling”, urged his government to demonstrate greater urgency in addressing the country’s problems.
The contributions to the debate by Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest caught our attention, not for its eloquence or reasonableness, but for what can best be described as sycophantic grovelling.
Turnquest offered the following: “You heard about the efforts and support that has been given to this country following Hurricane Dorian, unprecedented support, because of the respect the international community has for this prime minister and this government.”
We believe that expressions of support for a leader do not require ridiculously groundless overreach. The huge international aid response to the horror of Hurricane Dorian would not have been different had the present prime minister not been in office.
Bahamians are well aware that the world-wide media coverage of the devastation of Hurricane Dorian made no reference to political leadership in this country.
Aid responses from foreign governments, international agencies, national and international non-profit organizations and private individuals were humanitarian not political in nature.
Clarion calls for urgent action to address the terrible consequences of climate change — sea level rise and more and stronger Category 5 hurricanes — are not particular to the Bahamian experience, but rather to the frightening future we all face if human actions contributing to environmental degradation are not addressed.
Turnquest’s comments are reminiscent of chants of “one leader” that pervaded the last months of Perry Christie’s tenure as prime minister when some of his supporters and some renegade Free National Movement (FNM) supporters sought, unsuccessfully, to convince Bahamian voters that Christie alone could lead.
Such toadying to political leaders is unbecoming and unhelpful in the development of respect for democratic values and should not be promoted or encouraged by those in positions of responsibility.
Turnquest’s comments diminished the selfless contributions of international aid agencies and emergency relief agencies of several national governments that respond to disasters everywhere in the world solely on humanitarian grounds and devoid of any political consideration.
That is why governments from around the world, from the powerful United States of America to the small states of the Caribbean and including the distant Pacific small state of Micronesia, responded kindly and generously to our unbearable tragedy. We are forever in their debt, as we are to all who contributed or assisted The Bahamas following Dorian.
Turnquest must also know that many of the tens of aid agency staff and hundreds of private American citizens and businesses that responded to the humanitarian crisis on Abaco and Grand Bahama following the hurricane do not know the name of the prime minister, nor do they care who the prime minister of The Bahamas is on any given day.
This habit of idolizing political leaders in The Bahamas has a long history originating with the first prime minister in an independent Bahamas who was popularly called “chief” and “Black Moses” while his deputy was monikered “‘Lil’ Caesar” and key supporters “generals”.
The persistent use of such terminology and mindsets in political circles today is not conducive to respect for and promotion of accountable, transparent leadership.
In its early days, leaders of the FNM condemned bootlicking by some PLPs.
It is lamentable that just over 26 years after the election of the first FNM government, a deputy leader of the FNM, whom we believe knows better, speaks in language that would be anathema to the founders of his party.