Political similarities? The parliament building in The Bahamas. *Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Political similarities? The parliament building in The Bahamas. *Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
Dear Sir,

Thank you for affording me space within your column to express my views.

I read with interest Sir David Gibbons’ attempt to compare the formation and launch of the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) to the creation of the Free National Movement (FNM) in the Bahamas. For the amount of time he has spent in the Bahamas Sir David is certainly aware that his comparison is inaccurate.

 The OBA was formed by former Members of the UBP, some left the party, I guess two years ago to form the Bermuda Democratic Alliance (BDA) and the remainder have only recently left the UBP. In many ways the OBA is simply a reuniting of the UBP under a new name.

The FNM on the other hand was formed in 1971 when eight (8) sitting Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), parliamentarians called the Dissident Eight stood in the House of Assembly, including Sir Cecil Wallace Whitfield who was then Minister of Health, and resigned from the PLP and shortly thereafter the Dissidents were joined by former members of the disbanded United Bahamian Party (UBP) and some members of the National Democratic Party.

So to try to compare the OBA with the FNM is the same as trying to compare apples to oranges.

In reading Sir David’s comments one would have thought that shortly after its formation the FNM won the seat of Government, in fact the FNM did not win the seat of Government for the first time until 1992, 21 years after its formation. Ironically, when the FNM did win the 1992 election it did so under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Hubert Alexander Ingraham, who was first elected to Parliament in 1977 as a member of the PLP and was fired from the Cabinet and expelled from the PLP in 1985.

It would be interesting to understand how Sir David comes to the conclusion that the forming of OBA is anything at all like the formation of the FNM because the OBA was formed through a reuniting of UBP members and to date it has not attracted any PLP MP.

What Sir David may or may not know is that even after 40 years as a political party, there are still some members of the Bahamian electorate who continue to view the FNM as being tied to the former UBP and these persons state that it on this basis that they could not cast their votes for the FNM. If the FNM is still viewed in this light by some, imagine how much more the OBA will be viewed as still being the UBP and to a large degree this has merit because every single sitting MP of the OBA was elected under the umbrella of the UBP.

As I have said before, there are three tenets of the OBA that have piqued my interest (1) fixed term elections, (2) right to petition for a referendum and (3) the introduction of a recall system.

However, all of this is for naught if the OBA cannot evidence that it is not the UBP (the discussions on the consultant’s reports on how the party should re-emerge will have to be addressed also, especially if the OBA claims to be transparent).

I believe the OBA will have a very difficult time distancing itself from the UBP based solely on the fact that each of its sitting MPs won his/her seat as a UBP candidate. Further, if people like Sir David appear to be publicly endorsing the OBA this will only entrench the view that the OBA is the UBP with a new name.

Guilden M. Gilbert, Jr., Nassau, Bahamas