Pindling Legacy of PLP Leadership Continues through PM Philip Davis

By Fred Sturrup | GB News Editor | [email protected]

The Sir Lynden Pindling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) leadership legacy continues.
The Most Honourable Philip Davis, QC, MP, was not among that initial group of Pindling leadership politicians, each considered to be a protege. No, that list included Kendal Nottage, Darrell Rolle, Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie, primarily. (The latter two succeeded Sir Lynden in the high political seat of Prime Minister in the country).
However, there was a great PLP stalwart known as Edward “Big Brave” Davis, a fierce, fiery fighter in politics. The story goes that Sir Lynden very badly wanted to bestow an appointment of high honor on this giant of the political trenches who hailed from Old Bight, Cat Island. “Whatever you have for me, Mr. Prime Minister, give it to my boy.” Reportedly, that was the essence of that particular conversation between Sir Lynden and Big Brave Davis.

So, it followed that upon the resignation of Erwin Knowles as the representative for Cat Island in late November 1991, it was Philip (Little Brave) Davis who Sir Lynden endorsed to represent the PLP in 1992. The rest is history. Davis lost his Member of Parliament status during the 1997 general elections, but regained it in 2002 and has been that constituency’s political standard bearer ever since. Very early into his term as Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Davis is really the one looking most like Sir Lynden. He made a dramatic transformation with House of Assembly presentations and otherwise when bringing remarks at podiums, press conferences, etc.  The collective tag of hesitancy and rambling no longer fitted him. In fact, some two years prior to the 2021 September general elections, Davis started to make smooth deliveries and he became better and better as time went on. The masses of the people started thinking of him as “prime” Prime Minister material.
There was something else about Davis that I noticed, and I’m sure others did as well. The mannerisms of Sir Lynden could be detected at times in Davis.  There was this strong conviction and a high confidence level portrayed by Davis that was surprising.
He is not a Sir Lynden clone.  Nevertheless, much more so than Ingraham (a three-time non-consecutive PM) and Christie (twice the nation’s PM, non-consecutively) Davis resembles the Father of the Nation, Sir Lynden. Davis started out very well in appointing a magnificent Cabinet of The Bahamas. Then, inside his cabinet and outside he strategically placed others, including the most qualitative collection of women in parliament in the nation’s history, in key positions of governance.
The decision to allow the country to breathe by rescinding a lot of the restrictions imposed by a competent authority of the last government was huge. The return to nationwide normalcy began and continues despite the ever-present COVID-19 pandemic. If he can bring about the economic recovery of Grand Bahama and the revitalization of the wider country, he will further appear to be Pindling-like in leadership. How he and his ministers cope with national matters left in shambles by the previous government will determine just how much good he can do for the country, as did Sir Lynden.
At the present, PM Davis is off to a solid start. A nation now waits to see what the mega venture in Dubai produces.

Cooper Presents Different Historical Dynamics for Progressive Liberal Party

By Fred Sturrup | GB News Editor | [email protected]

For the first time in history there is a deputy leader who is not considered by many to be a true Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) product.   I. Chester Cooper, the Deputy Leader of the PLP and the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as Minister of Tourism, Aviation and Investments in Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis’ cabinet, was not even in the PLP mix during most of the last Perry Christie PLP Government (2012-2017).  Somehow, he surfaced as a PLP Candidate for the 2017 general elections after being thought to have initially decided to opt for the Free National Movement (FNM). 
In fact, during a House of Assembly session following his success in Exuma as an Official Opposition representative Cooper was accused on the floor of having changed his mind for the PLP rather than the FNM.  Whatever the case, his personal PLP link is relatively new.  This is where he differs greatly from all others who were deputy leaders of the oldest (established in 1953) formal political party in the country. When Lynden Oscar Pindling who would later be knighted and enshrined as the Father of the Nation came home from successful law studies and joined the PLP in 1953, he met Henry Milton Taylor (later to rise to the status of governor general) as the de facto leader of the PLP.  Taylor was not successful in the 1956 elections and Pindling evolved into the unquestioned leader of the PLP. There are different stories of Pindling’s ascension to the PLP leadership, but what was never in doubt was the absolute loyalty of his deputy Arthur Hanna (who would also later become governor general). Hanna was quite comfortable in his role as deputy leader of the party and deputy prime minister through 25 consecutive years of governance. It has been said far and wide that he never aspired to be party leader or prime minister. No one, not even Pindling or the late great Clarence Bain were thought of as being more PLP than Hanna.  Hanna lost in his election race in 1992 and easily slipped into the background of national politics. Perry Christie and Dr. Bernard Nottage emerged as the top choices to be Hanna’s successor as deputy leader of the PLP. In a one-day convention, Christie overcame Nottage and was officially established in the role Hanna performed so brilliantly for many years. Whatever can be said about Christie and his rise to the prime minister position for two non-consecutive terms, it was never doubted that his political career was rooted in the PLP and remained so. The political transition over time saw Cynthia Moxey-Pratt and Davis emerge as deputy leaders of the PLP, and once again, there was no questioning the distinct PLP background of the two. Now, there is Chester Cooper.  Because his FNM friends Algernon Cargill and Marlon Johnson and, I understand, quite a few others have remained entrenched in high, meaningful positions in this PLP Government; Cooper has drawn many sideways looks from PLPs, especially those who fought hard in the trenches and have received no flowers at all as yet.
This man Cooper does not have the bearing of a PLP.  He seems abstract to PLPism. Oh, he exists as a PLP hierarchy member, but the bet here is that only a small percentage of those who pay close attention to the political arena see him as a true PLP.  Such is the strange situation of historical dynamics he presents. That he has ambitions to be prime minister is not in doubt however.  This is where Davis ought to be careful and watchful; Cooper is 51, and Davis is 70. It seems an easy scenario, the younger man waiting comfortably in the wings for the older to serve two terms as prime minister. I don’t think this to be the case though.  I see Cooper fighting very hard to keep as many of his FNM buddies around, then eventually seeking to get them in the PLP ranks as part of his support base for the future. He is just a different kind of political creature; one never seen before around the PLP leadership table. 

Should Davis be uneasy?

Well, certainly he would be best minded not to go to sleep on Cooper.

The Woman Who Was on the Pathway to Be Prime Minister of The Bahamas (Part 2)

By Fred Sturrup | GB News Editor | [email protected]

Loretta Butler-Turner, after she moved from Grand Bahama back to New Providence quickly became a strong force within the Free National Movement party. She was a favorite of three-time Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham. When he put his slate together on the way to upsetting the Progressive Liberal Party and Prime Minister Perry Christie in 2007 during the general elections, Ingraham had Butler-Turner on the Montagu Constituency ticket.  She won, and the achievement catapulted her almost immediately into Ingraham’s preferred group. He appointed her Minister of State for Social Development and other than making inroads in her portfolio and growing as a women’s rights advocate, Butler-Turner was admired nationally for her eloquent presence in the House of Assembly. By the time the third Ingraham Government was defeated in 2012, she had become one of the leading politicians not only in our land but in the region as well. During her first tenure in the House of Assembly, she also served as Vice President of the Inter-American Commission of Women.  Indeed, Butler-Turner had made her mark outside of The Bahamas. 
There would be much more to this lady who hailed from the Pond Community in New Providence.  She was, indeed, headed for more personal accomplishments of the historic kind.  
After heading to convention, Ingraham took responsibility for the resounding defeat of  his party (9-29) and resigned on election night 2012.  A convention was soon held. Butler-Turner became the first female to win the deputy leader post in a major party. She defeated Desmond Bannister and despite Dr. Hubert Minnis becoming the FNM Leader, virtually by default, it was Butler-Turner as the representative for Long Island who flashed elegance, eloquence and political acumen in the House of Assembly and during press conferences much more often than any other in the Official Opposition.  She overshadowed Dr. Minnis based on the reality of the circumstances. She was just several grades above her leader, politically and generally, and it showed. She was looking more and more like Prime Minister material, a lot more so than Dr. Minnis.
He couldn’t like that and perhaps he felt all along that her superiority over him would be obvious. Butler-Turner would later say that when the two became public adversaries Dr. Minnis told her she was not his choice for the deputy leader position in the FNM. The die was cast.  Dr. Minnis began to show himself for what he actually was – a person many (inside and out of his party) would not be comfortable with. The situation led to a one-day convention in 2014 and Dr. Minnis who had galvanized a lot of support because of his pledges to help the small man, easily beat his opponent.
The friction between Dr. Minnis and Butler-Turner increased though. She declared her opposition to him as the FNM leader. Eventually with the support of Neko Grant of Central Grand Bahama; Hubert Chipman of St. Anne’s; Theo Neilly of North Eleuthera; Edison Key of South Abaco; Richard Lightbourne of Montagu; and Dr. Andre Rollins of Fort Charlotte; Butler-Turner was able to upend Dr. Minnis and replace him as leader of the Official Opposition. It was history again. She became the first female to head the Official Opposition in Bahamian politics.  Dr. Minnis was left with K. Peter Turnquest, the East Grand Bahama Member of Parliament in his corner.  For sure, Butler-Turner displayed the attitude, in every way, of a Prime Minister to be. But alas, Dr. Minnis was getting a groundswell of support from those who would come to regret their decision. So, at convention time in 2016 Butler-Turner pulled out of the race and the FNM Party belonged to Dr. Minnis.  She had reached her political pinnacle as leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Official Opposition. It would end up being a bitter-sweet achievement because that development spelt the end for her in the FNM.
She ran in Long Island as an independent candidate in 2017 and lost.  These days, she and a lot more who closely observe the political arena are only left to wonder. What would have happened if Butler-Turner, after she lost to Dr. Minnis for the leadership during that one-day convention in 2014, had just bided her time? 
Would it have been better for her to simply lick her wounds politically, but remain firm within the FNM? Could she have just waited for Dr. Minnis to become the pariah Bahamians detested?
Yes, if only! History is what it is, but the view strongly held here is that one Loretta Butler-Turner was most definitely on the pathway to become The Bahamas’ first female Prime Minister.

(End of two-part series)

The Woman Who Was on the Pathway to Be Prime Minister of The Bahamas (Part 1)

By Fred Sturrup | GB News Editor | [email protected]

Loretta Butler-Turner

Loretta Butler, daughter of noted mortician Raleigh Butler and grand-daughter of the legendary politician and humanitarian Sir Milo Butler, not too long ago seemed destined for an extremely high position in the country called The Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Indeed, she was well on the pathway to become the first female Prime Minister of The Bahamas.
I know quite a bit about her. During the years 2015 and 2016, we interacted often regarding politics. Prior to that she was a beloved inspiration to my mother and the other women of the Montagu Constituency. Even after she no longer represented them in the House of Assembly, she continued to reach out to them on special occasions. My mother was a staunch supporter of the Progressive Liberal Party; but she told me often and fervently, “I like Milo Butler’s grand-daughter”.   So yes, I know a good bit about the lady.
We grew up in the same Pond Area of the middle-east section of New Providence. She would have been one of the little members of the Butler clan one would see at the once famous, land-mark store in The Pond when purchasing items. However, she really came to my attention while in her early teens.
The late Olympic sprinter and National sprint champion Kevin Johnson and I were sitting on the roadside wall in front of his home one day in 1972. Two young ladies in their early teens passed by and greeted us, very mannerly, and I asked the obvious question to my friend Kevin. He informed that the slightly taller one was “Raleigh’s daughter and the other one, Milo’s”. The taller of the cousins was Loretta.
The age of high technology was in the far distance then, but news traveled very well in neighborhoods. So I was able to follow her career when she recorded one of her notable “firsts” and became the pioneer female in this country with a degree in Mortuary Science. The next I heard of this lady, Loretta, who would hit ceilings in politics later on; she had relocated to Grand Bahama to operate the family mortuary business in Freeport.
Quite a transformation was to take place. She became recognized as one of the top morticians in Grand Bahama and was cutting a wide path in the business.  Her destiny then took a firm grip on her and politics for a number of reasons (another story, at another time), won out over the business.
Instead of in the PLP political family, however, she was to evolve as one of the more spirited, progressive, and capable members of the Free National Movement (FNM) of all time. 

(Be on the lookout for the continuation of this series on one of the truly fine daughters of the Bahamian soil. It will be uploaded on GB News soon)

Grand Bahama Port Authority an effective quasi-government

(By Fred Sturrup | GB News Editor | [email protected])

The Legislature of The Bahamas Islands, with the financial guru, Attorney Stafford Sands, a prominent spokesman on national business deals, leading the discussions, an arrangement with the late Wallace Groves, an American with a bit of a tainted past, was agreed to. The area of Grand Bahama situated in the center of the island was the focal point.
Thus came into being, the Hawksbill Creek Agreement (HCA). That signed document gave Grooves and his associates the right to control an area designated between Eight Mile Rock in the west and the lower end of East Grand Bahama, with free trade zone status. What evolved was a free port locale, later to be known as the City of Freeport. The Story of Freeport, is one of the special exclusive pieces of history to be found in this blog.