The following statement was read by Barry Griffin, the Chairman of the Progressive Young Liberals on behalf of Senator Fred Mitchell, the Chairman of the PLP to the National General Council on Thursday 16th March. Senator Mitchell was on assignment in Grenada:
From The Office Of The Chairman Of The Progressive Liberal Party
To The National General Council Of The PLP
15 March 2018
Good evening, my brothers and sisters.
Today is the Ides of March. Those who know your literature know it is the day that Julius Caesar was assassinated in the Roman Senate. Just a bit of trivia to lighten your evening.
I greet you, however, from Grenada where I was to witness the general election held there on 13 March. Dr. Keith Mitchell, the Prime Minister (no relation), has won a third term in office and for the third time he has no opposition in the House. He won all of the seats. This is a remarkable accomplishment.
That is the reason I am not there tonight but I am sure that you see my point that the PLP must develop its bench and use all of its voices, so our Deputy Chair will be in the Chair tonight and I have asked the Young Liberals Chair Barry Griffin to read this statement on my behalf.
There will be general elections on 20 March in Antigua and at the end of April or early May in Barbados and I will be there for them as well.
First, I wish to congratulate the Parliamentary team in the House of Assembly for a job well done in defending the party’s interests. I am particularly pleased about the push back on the Oban development which should not proceed in Grand Bahama. I also think that the push back on the Water and Sewerage Report is excellent. Both show how incompetent and dishonest the present government is under Dr. Hubert Minnis. They just do a lot of plain dumb things.
One of our supporters wrote a great line today when he said that the FNM crew is so dumb that if you locked them up in Super Value for a day, they would starve.
There was a commentary in social media about the fact that the PLP’s Chairman was missing on a particular issue, the Oban issue. That is false. Thea party’s statements came early and are posted. However, I wish to point out how the PLP works. We have a shadow cabinet and the lead person on the Oban issue is the spokesman on Finance Chester Cooper MP for Exuma and Ragged Island. The wider moral and ethical issues have also been widely tackled by Glenys Hanna Martin MP for Englerston and the Leader of the Party Philip Davis. We work as a team and I have had the advantage of working with the Leader on the party’s positions.
We are not a one man band. I encourage all to think back to my early statements as Chairman about how I envisaged the PLP working as party. I said when your voice is all you have, you have to use your voice. The party has thousands of voices and they must all speak up.
My chairmanship should say one thing above all else, we are building a multi-faceted, multi-talented organization. Not a one man band.
Similarly, I want to say that it is important that if people want to organize demonstrations and protests, they do not need the permission or sanction of the party to do so. If you have the ability to organize, then please go ahead and act. The country needs to see reasonable actions and reasonable commentary from a cross section of voices not all of them coming directly from the PLP.
In this connection, I want to welcome the efforts of Keith Cox and several intrepid men who have decided that they want to form a Men’s Branch of the PLP, to deal with political and social issues affecting males in the society and the family. They also want to do something practical which is to fix the buildings and the PLP’s infrastructure.
I hope when it comes to Council, you will feel the need to support it. Procedurally, the matter is to be considered by the Leadership Council before it comes to the NGC. I hereby acknowledge the formal application.
There are many issues that need answering and I provide a few answers for you.
I wish that Brensil Rolle wold stop telling people that the Immigration Officers were improperly hired. They were hired properly. The Government has simply failed to provide the letters of appointment for these officers. Some of them have been working as actual immigration officers for months and cannot get paid. The Public Service Minister should stop attacking the qualifications of these officers and get them their letters of appointment as quickly as possible. Each day many of them go to work without letters of appointment and given what the Minister said in the House they do not know if the day they go in will be their last. This is shameful.
The other issue is that of the so called backlog of 130,000 applications at the National Insurance Board. I want to make it clear that this has nothing to do with the PLP. Under the last FNM administration, they bought a faulty IT system and try as we might the PLP could not get out from under it. Under the PLP we tried to fix this bad machine but it has never worked properly. So once again Brensil Rolle has only the FNM to blame for that state of affairs.
Then there is a need for a formal explanation from the Attorney General as to why the case against the Vendors charged with trespass at Paradise Island collapsed the way that it did. How is it possible for senior police officers not to show up for the case which is prosecuted by the police themselves?
The final point I wish to make about all of this and perhaps this is most important. There is a cauldron of activity which is swirling around this Government. The Bible says you do not know the hour or the day. The PLP must be ready, battle ready. It must be ready to govern from day one.
There is no point in looking backward like Lot’s wife. We must look forward. Branches have to respond to the call to get the names of all registered PLPs on the list before 28 February. Elections must be held in May for all branches. Branches must meet and meet regularly; branches must have reports sent into the Secretary General. People should, where they can afford it, pay their dues. Every little bit helps instructing the party.
When change comes, it often comes without a moment’s notice and then drops in our laps. We the PLP cannot be found in the same position as the present FNM, not ready to govern without one clue as to what to do. In a word, they are hopeless
Let us continue to work toward victory.
Philippians 3:13 says this: Brethren I do not imagine that I have yet laid hold of it. But this one thing I do – forgetting everything which is past and stretching forward to what lies in front of me.
Blessings to you all.
PLP ALL THE WAY!