The Progressive Liberal Party has put to bed its third general convention in two years. The first came in November 2017 when Philip Brave Davis MP defeated Glenys Hanna Martin for the leadership of the PLP which he had inherited by reason of office once Perry Christie retired after the general election defeat on 10 May 2017. The second was a special convention which was held in July of 2018 to review and amend the constitution of the PLP to make it more relevant to the modern age. Then there was the convention of last week.
On the surface, it appeared to be a battle of wills between Obie Wilchcombe, the former Minister of Tourism, and Member of Parliament for West Grand Bahama and the leader of the PLP Philip Davis. The reality was that there was a campaign led by unnamed forces within the party to have Mr. Wilchcombe replace Senator Fred Mitchell as Chairman of the PLP and ultimately another person replace Mr. Davis. The campaign was intense and it was nasty. It did not quite have the open bitterness that we saw displayed when Loretta Butler Turner MP was seeking to replace then Leader of the Opposition Hubert Minnis.
However, if you read the things that were said by Mr. Wilchcombe and the chat which passed around as campaigning from social media from the friends of Mr. Wilchcombe, you will find that it was nasty and bitter enough.
The campaign theme was that while Mr. Wilchcombe supported the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the party, he did not support Mr. Mitchell. He believed that he would do a better job. In the process of defending that assertion, he said some pretty nasty things about Mr. Mitchell who was in fact responsible in so many ways for Mr. Wilchombe’s public prominence. It is difficult to see where on a personal or a political level this goes after such a scorched earth performance.
From the public record, we have in response a series of no comments from Mr. Mitchell who studiously maintained that the public record was not the appropriate forum in which to debate these matters.
Mr. Mitchell is absolutely right and we publish a set of guidelines which he espoused for the campaign.
Make no mistake about it, however, this was a campaign for control for the PLP in the post Christie era. Mr. Wilchcombe sought to portray himself as the heir of the Pindling mystique. He makes an almost comical, certainly, embarrassing feature of trying to sound and speak act like Sir Lynden Pindling. In this campaign, it became so obvious that it appears that the Pindling family had had enough. Monique Pindling appeared at the PLP’s convention on Thursday 25thJuly 2019 and indicated that they wanted their father’s name put to rest and not abused in the public domain. It seemed a pointed slap in the face.
Before Mr. Wilchcombe entered the race, the public record revealed that Mr. Davis had asked him not to run. In fact no one expected that there would have been a contest at all. Mr. Wilchcombe despite private and public entreaties continued to run the campaign. He was advised that in doing so, he risked ending his political career. He was unmoved and he and his surrogates ran the kind of campaign that we have described.
The end result is that Philip Davis is now the undisputed leader of the PLP. He has been given the task by the PLP of leading them to the general election. Mr. Wilchcombe is now by choice not a part of that team. Others are asking where does that leave his allies in the fight, given the nastiness of it all.
The pundits are watching and waiting. In the meantime, congratulationsto Philip Brave Davis for a job well done.