Remarks by The Hon Philip Davis QC MP
Church Service Marking 64th Anniversary of the PLP
Faith United Missionary Baptist Church
Faith United Way
Nassau, The Bahamas
Check Against Delivery
Reverend William Thompson and Mrs. Thompson, other Reverend gentlemen and ladies, Deputy Leader Chester Cooper MP, Chairman Senator Fred Mitchell, Parliamentary colleagues, Party Officers and members, brothers and sisters.
I wish first of all to thank Rev. Thompson and the members of this church for hosting us here today on this important anniversary. I wish to say a very Merry Christmas to you all and I thank you for all that you have done in the work of the Lord and in support of the progressive cause.
Thursday 23 November was the 64th anniversary of the Progressive Liberal Party. That day marked an important anniversary in the life of our party and our nation. This morning we come to say thanks to Almighty God for bringing us this long, mighty long way. It is fitting that we remember how we got started. We do not dwell on the past but we seek to build upon it.
This morning we pay tribute to the founders of the party, the late Sir Henry Milton Taylor; the late Cyril St. John Stevenson and the late William W. Cartwright for their courage and their foresight. The late Sir Henry Taylor, the first Chairman of the party and a former Governor General writes that at the time of the party’s formation in The Bahamas there was very little public opinion and the party was formed in part to help to shape and mobilize public opinion. This is a task which we must remember even today; that it is central to our mission.
The idea of the PLP was formulated by three men. It was a modest beginning but soon blossomed into a movement. Sir Henry says that Cyril St. John Stevenson and William Cartwright when returning from the Coronation of Elizabeth II in London, stopped in Jamaica and took advice. They then returned to Nassau and met at Sir Henry’s house and that is how it began. The first day of business was 23rd May 1953. Amongst those who joined in time for the first convention was the late Sir Lynden Pindling, then a young lawyer. He later became the party’s first Leader.
We remember therefore our first leader and the father of the nation Sir Lynden O Pindling. We remember our former leader Perry Christie. We remember all the countless men and women who struggled to bring us through.
Built on the philosophical foundation of social justice, the PLP challenged the social order of the day and through a grass roots movement, led The Bahamas to Majority Rule on the 10th January 1967 and Independence on the 10th July 1973.
Building on the economic foundation and the twin pillars of tourism and financial services, the Bahamian people under the leadership of a Progressive Liberal Party Government built tourism into a multi-billion dollar industry. Having recorded tourism expenditures in excess of one billion dollars in 1985, The Bahamas never looked back in its quest to position The Bahamas as a premier tourism destination, employing well over 100,000 jobs and accounting for sixty percent of the local economy.
The PLP established the Central Bank of The Bahamas; the University of The Bahamas; Bahamasair; the Royal Bahamas Defence Force; the National Insurance Board; Urban Renewal; Bahamas Agricultural Marine Science Institute (BAMSI) and National Health Insurance. Our policy of Bahamianization is largely responsible for the middle and professional classes while it empowered the Bahamian merchant class beyond their wildest dreams.
As we undergo internal constitutional reform, our work on behalf of the Bahamian people continues. The Enterprise Bill currently before Parliament threatens to undermine the hard fought and largely successful policy of Bahamianization. I have indicated that the PLP will repeal this bill if it becomes law when we return to office. NHI is being gutted even though over 200,000 Bahamians are without health insurance. Economic empowerment, crime, energy reform, environmental protection, food security and immigration reform remain the priorities in the next PLP.
There is no job security in the public sector as job training has given way to this unconstitutional and baneful practice of victor’s justice and mass terminations driven purely by the exercise of one’s constitutionally guaranteed right of association.
The struggle continues. Fifty years after majority rule, the policies which have guided us for 50 years are being reversed before our very eyes, led by the children of very people who oppressed us fifty years ago. Let us remember our history and seek to build upon it. We are about creating the best little nation on earth.
We congratulate all PLPs who are still a part of the struggle. We made it these 64 years but we have miles to go before we sleep.
We commit ourselves today anew to that struggle of mobilizing and shaping public opinion to which our founding fathers dedicated themselves when the PLP began.
I thank you all who are supporters today and who have been supporters over the years. I thank each and every one who is here morning.
We are as committed as ever in our righteous fight for the poor, the weak, the displaced, the voiceless and the sovereign rights of all Bahamians.
May Almighty God continue to bless the Progressive Liberal Party and the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
On behalf of my wife Ann and on behalf of all colleagues thank you to the Bahamian people at large for their support.
Leave you with this prayer for the nation:
God bless The Bahamas
Guide her leaders
Give your grace to us all
Protect our children
In the name of Christ
PLP ALL THE WAY!