I must commend former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MP and Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe for demonstrating civility and political maturity amid vicious propaganda attacks against him in recent days.
Choosing instead to remain above the fray, the Wilchcombe camp has not responded in kind.
Whatever criticisms levelled against the PLP by Wilchcombe have been mild in tone. For instance, the party holding its convention sporadically, rather than annually, as mandated by its constitution, is a valid criticism. But obviously not everyone is happy about Wilchcombe voicing his frustration with the party’s inconsistency in holding its convention.
Apparently, these political attacks are emanating from certain elements within the political organization he has been a member of since the days of his political mentor, the late Sir Lynden Pindling.
And all because he dares to challenge for the chairmanship position, which is his democratic right.
PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis and PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell want Wilchcombe to stand down. The reason behind this unusual request is that the duo wants to project a united image to the Bahamian people.
But the issue of unity was not the reason the PLP was rejected resoundingly in 2017.
Over two years into its current stint as the official opposition, the party has yet to undergo the sweeping reforms which were promised in the wake of the Free National Movement’s (FNM) landslide election victory.
In an effort to sabotage Wilchcombe’s potential political campaign for the chairmanship, someone within the PLP has sent the political hounds after the former MP — unscrupulous propagandists who are on a mission to smear Wilchcombe’s reputation.
Obviously these people are afraid of Wilchcombe unseating the incumbent Mitchell — the latter winning the post by 208 votes in 2017.
If these people want to cite Wilchcombe’s political affiliation with the erstwhile Christie administration as a reason for him not being given the opportunity to serve within the PLP, the same can be said about Davis and Mitchell.
These PLP operatives seem to think that the Bahamian people have forgotten that Davis was the deputy prime minister in that government. If Davis can be given a new lease on his political life, why can’t Wilchcombe, who was the least of the Christie administration’s problems?
Davis and Mitchell were just as much a part of that administration as Wilchcombe. Consequently, Wilchcombe should be extended the same courtesy.
Granted, a Wilchcombe chairmanship would present an awkward situation for Davis, who has publicly endorsed Mitchell. But Wilchcombe comes off as an individual who is easy to get along with.
This latest development gives one the impression that Davis does not want Wilchcombe to be active again within the party. With the race for the PLP nomination in West End having already begun in earnest, it will be interesting to see if Davis is willing to set aside his political differences with Wilchcombe and allow him to get the nod.
As a former PLP chairman, Wilchcombe has the experience and background for such an important post. He is an excellent orator and organizer, who is far less combative and does not have a boorish demeanor.
We can fault Wilchcombe for the sorry state of West End in Grand Bahama as much as we want, but the stubborn facts remain that that constituency is tied at the hip of Freeport, whose economy had flatlined before the demise of the former Grand Bahama Port Authority executive, Edward St. George, in December 2004.
As Nassau serves as the economic nerve center for all of New Providence, Freeport serves as the economic nerve center for all of Grand Bahama. With Freeport’s current economic malaise, it is hard for any MP to jumpstart West End’s economy. When Wilchcombe first became MP in 2002, Freeport was already on a precipitous decline.
The FNM has no dog in this political fight within the PLP.
Consequently, this smear campaign against Wilchcombe is being orchestrated by persons sympathetic to the current leadership, I think. The PLP leadership must call off the political hounds who have gone after Wilchcombe.
A smear campaign does not augur well for true party unity. It accomplishes the exact opposite, especially given the fact that the former MP has his PLP sympathizers, who will not be too happy with him being unfairly broadsided by political operatives within the party.
– Kevin Evans