Reece Chipman MP for Centreville has resigned from the Free National Movement, the governing party in The Bahamas. It was not unexpected and the question most people were asking was: what took him so long. Mr. Chipman spoke at his grandfather John Chipman’s funeral on 28th September 2019 and gave a rally type speech. So people knew that something was coming. He was embraced right after the speech by another of the FNM rebels Frederick McAlpine. They say others are to come.
The Leader of The Opposition Philip Davis said that he would look forward to Mr. Chipman’s thoughtful counsel.
If you look at the history of the politics of The Bahamas since party politics began in 1956, this should again be no surprise. It appears that political coalitions in The Bahamas are quite unstable. The longest period it would seem without a split in the parties would seem to have been that period from 1956 to 1965. In those nine years the UBP reigned and the PLP was just building as a movement.
By 1964, the first public crack in the PLP’s armour appeared with then party Leader of the Opposition Lynden Pindling choosing Sir Clifford Darling and Charles Rodriguez to be the Senators for the PLP as opposed to appointing Sir Henry Taylor as one of the Senators. Sir Henry left the party. It was a signal that the more aggressive Black power presence had taken over the movement founded as a reform movement by Sir Henry.
The next year in 1965, there was an even bigger split, when Paul Adderley, Spurgeon Bethel and Sir Orville Turnquest left the party after the Black Tuesday incident because they refused to follow the decision of the party to boycott the House of Assembly.
Even after the victory of 1967, that did not last long either. Within three years Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield resigned from the Cabinet, Arthur Foulkes had been dismissed and in 1971 there was the vote of no confidence which was moved by the dissident eight of the PLP against the government they had just won in 1967.
Within ten years, by 1976 there was split again with Mr. Pindling charging one of his MPs for corruption offences and backbenchers moving to support the Opposition to stop the Public Disclosure Bill. The night of the long knives was the result when Sir Arlington Butler, Cadwell Armbrister, Oscar Johnson, Earl Thompson, Lionel Davis, Edmund Moxey and Sir Franklin Wilson lost their nominations and could not run as PLP nominees in 1977.
Sir Lynden Pindling faced another split in 1984 when Perry Christie and Hubert Ingraham were fired and Arthur Hanna resigned in the wake of the Commission of Inquiry’s report of that year.
Hubert Ingraham faced the same problem with dissent from Pierre Dupuch, Tennyson Wells and Algernon Allen in 2002.
Perry Christie faced revolts from MPs Malcolm Adderley, Kenyatta Gibson, Renward Wells and Andre Rollins in 2007 and in 2017.
So we have seen it all before. The question now is who is next. They expect that Vaughn Miller MP for Golden Isles, Frederick McAlpine MP for Marco City and the boy wonder Travis Robinson MP for Bain and Grants Town are lining up for the door.
We will see. Politics is a game of survival in the long term. Men and women must do what they must.
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