The PLP is on a collision course with itself. Are the core values of the party still relevant; or, viagra sales have they been cast aside? On the other side, foreign direct investment that all important instrument being used to help develop and modernize the country. These two competing interests stand in the balance, and if not dealt with, and managed skillfully will surely end in disaster next year at the polls for the PLP.
The PLP at its core from 1956 has always been the political party that championed the cause and concerns of the ordinary man. It has been the party that has spoken for those who cannot speak for themselves. The party that brought us universal adult suffrage, free education for the masses, championed the cause of the trade union movement, and was at the forefront of the 1958 general strike. The PLP has always championed the cause of the taxi driver, the hotel worker, the straw vendor, and the domestic worker. This is the foundation on which the PLP stands, and what has made it strong. This coalition gave the party twenty-five (25) years of unbroken political rule of our county. This covenant has always been the cornerstone of the party, looking out for the interest of the ordinary man. It was not clear in the run up to the 2002 general elections, and today, it is still somewhat unclear.
The bosses of this country with an angry lead pencil in hand sent the PLP packing out of office until our leaders understood who the true bosses are. The message was a simple one: If you favor foreign big money interest (who cannot vote) over the interest of the ordinary Bahamian, I will vote you out. The other message is even more simple: If you allow free reign in the workplace like some hotels and banks are employing such as Memories in Freeport, and Sandals Royal Bahamian that rob people of their self- respect and dignity, and you as a government bury your head in the sand and do nothing, I promise you, I will vote you out. Plain and simple. That is why, the PLP lost in 2007.
Foreign direct investment is the instrument all governments have used to help develop these seven hundred (700) islands of the Bahamas. We have the pristine locations, and in real estate, we learn that location, location, location, is everything. If used and implemented properly the benefits of this partnership should improve the quality of life for our population.
It is an instrument whose hallmark must be based on and grounded in the principles of mutual respect of the two competing interests. When managed properly, the quality of life should improve, the islands develop, and the investor receives a reasonable return on his investment dollar.
A foreign investor left alone, or sensing weakness, or losing respect for the government of the day, can quickly turn the investment ugly, and become the ugly investor as we have seen with the BAHMAR project, and as of late, Sandals Royal Bahamian. When this happens, you now have a modern day slave plantation, and any government worth its salt must deal with the ugly investor to the fullest extent of the law.
On Friday, PLP Senator, Jerome Gomez used the talking points of big money interests and the FNM to trash the labor unions. He asserted in the business section of the Tribune that the unions have distorted the business environment and the chickens have come home to roost. The good senator went on to disgrace himself when he did not mention the arbitrary manner in which Sandals Royal Bahamian Hotel used to bust the union and terminate six (600) hundred workers. To make the point, seven days later, the hotel held a job fair to show how ruthless big business operates.
I cry shame on Senator Gomez. Maybe Senator Gomez should consider joining the ranks of the other side whose job it is to defend the big money interest.
Loretta Butler Turner, the FNM shadow Minister of Labor, attacked the government and called the proposed amendment to the Labor law ludicrous and hair brained. Clearly, Butler Turner in standing up for the interest for big business repudiated the work of her grandfather who paved the way for this new generation politician who has forgotten her history and from whence she came, and who she should defend.
In closing, I commend the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “a man can only ride your back if it’s bent.”