Pineridge MP Frederick McAlpine recently told The Tribune that he is in the “valley of decision” with respect to his future with the governing Free National Movement (FNM).
The question about his future was inspired by the defection of Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller to the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) last week.
Both Miller and McAlpine were members of the so-called Dissident Four. Ironically, both are pastors.
Miller’s main bone of contention with Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis was the 60 percent increase in value-added tax (VAT) in 2018, although critics of the increase have yet to recommend any other feasible alternative in raising government revenue in the face of a $9.5 billion national debt.
Engaging in political rhetoric as opposition leader in April 2014, Minnis had vowed to repeal VAT on a variety of goods and services, in the event it was implemented by the PLP administration.
In my opinion, the implementation of VAT by the PLP was needed.
There’s no getting around this stubborn reality, notwithstanding the populist rhetoric of those in opposition looking to pander to cash-strapped Bahamians.
With McAlpine, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what his main gripe with the Minnis administration is.
Last year I recall him taking issue with the Minnis administration for leasing the Town Centre Mall for the General Post Office. Like Miller, he too opposed the 60 percent increase in VAT in 2018.
At least Miller’s defection paves the way for the FNM to nominate a fresh face in Golden Isles.
With McAlpine’s tentativeness, however, the FNM has a bloody mess of a situation in Pineridge, especially given the fact that members of the Pineridge Constituency Association have gone on record in requesting that the outspoken MP resign from the party in August 2019.
With elections being year after next, time is now of the essence for the FNM, whose political stock has plummeted since Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19.
McAlpine, based on his comments to The Tribune, seems to be hedging his bet by playing the wait-and-see game.
I think the FNM has far too much going on to get all caught up in a political tug-of-war with a backbencher.
If McAlpine joins the PLP, the FNM would undoubtedly lose Pineridge. If he runs as an independent, splitting the votes, the FNM would still lose.
This might sound sacrilegious to diehard FNMs, but I think the best course of action in addressing the McAlpine matter would be to renominate him in Pineridge.
At this point in time, what does the FNM have to lose? Either way, the FNM has got an uphill battle on its hand in getting re-elected.
Giving McAlpine the nod would be a shrewd chess move in neutralizing him by putting him in a very awkward position of having to decide to either keep quiet or continue being outspoken.
— Kevin Evans