28th September 2009
Thank you all for coming this evening.
I am pleased to present this third edition of Great Moments In PLP History which was a project started when I was in a group called the National Alliance along with Sean McWeeney, Brenville Hanna and Michael Symonette, back in 1977. We were a group of 20-somethings dedicated to supporting the PLP.
The essays on the history of the struggle derived from Dr. Doris Johnson’s book The Quiet Revolution and were written in the form of short pieces that were delivered at the PLP’s Convention of 1977 at the Polaris Hall of the Holiday Inn.
I had been asked by some young PLPs in Grand Bahama to write a piece about the procedures of running a PLP branch, so in 1998 I added that in the second edition.
Now I have added three new essays and a poem. One is the essay ‘Pindling and Me’ written in 2000 and delivered at the College of the Bahamas in September 2000 shortly after Sir Lynden died.
I have also added the essay delivered when I was Foreign Minister at the Dundas in 2006 called What It Means To Be Bahamian.
Melissa Sears used a line in the poem from a speech delivered by the late Sir Lynden, a speech that I wrote as one his writers in those days. When I heard her say it at our last convention, I wondered where I had heard those words before and it all came back to me. I was able to retrieve the original work.
In addition, I publish in this work the tributes that I wrote at the funerals of the late Cyril Stevenson and Jeffrey Thompson. Mr. Stevenson was one of the original founders of the PLP and Jeffrey Thompson one of the original Cabinet in 1967 following majority rule. I worked closely with both men. It gives an insight into the early formation and practice of the PLP in Opposition and in Government.
Mr. Thompson was part of the group of newcomers to the PLP, the 30-somethings that ousted Cyril Stevenson’s generation from power in the PLP as part of a group called the National Committee for Positive Action (NCPA). I keep saying to the 20-somethings and 30-somethings today, the phrase of Frederick Douglass: “Power concedes nothing without a demand”
In talking this over with friends, I describe the period of 1967 to 1992 as the glory days of the PLP and within that period, the time from 1972 to 1984, the PLP was at the height it its power in the society. It defeated all comers and represented the true voice of the people of The Bahamas.
The slide downhill came following the Commission of Inquiry in 1984 and the resignation of Arthur Hanna from the Cabinet in 1984 and the dismissal of Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie from the Cabinet on that fateful day in October.
The book chronicles those events and my own departure and return to the PLP and the relationship with the late Sir Lynden from the time I first met him in 1969 to his death in 2000.
At one point in our joint history, I worked with him, spoke to him, spent hours with him on every single day of the year during a period dating from the restart of The Herald in 1981 to my departure for law school in December 1983. He wrote for the paper under a nom-de-plume as Q. E. Thomas.
Those days are gone. The past is the prologue, however. History is important, not to dwell upon, but to learn from. Those particular glory days are gone and it is now time for the mission of a new generation. My generation has been almost completely overshadowed by the works of Lynden Pindling. In fact, I argue that even after his death and until the departure of the last of us, we will still be in the Pindling era.
Let me also be clear that in my opinion no one is the specific heir to Lynden Pindling in that direct personal sense, save perhaps his biological children. I think it is easy for people to get carried away with their emotions and think that they are the personal repositories of Pindling or his reincarnation. There is no such thing. No one individual received any special blessing, like Jacob got mistakenly blessed for Esau. Everyone of us in this generation of leaders of the PLP must stand on their own two feet and cannot fight the battle seeking to hold on to the coattails of the great man. The battle is about who in this generation will capture the hearts and minds of the Bahamian public.
As I move into what is the next and final stage of my public political career, it is for me to convince the PLP that there is need for a transition to new leadership. My role is to transition the party to a lean, mean fighting machine that embraces the demographic that is presently relevant to the times. That means that we must sign on to an agenda for change, change at all levels of our party. Those who now lead will need to be content that they can advise and counsel and arrange the transition.
That is the kind of leadership I mean to provide.
I have only this to say to the 20, 30 and 40 somethings who run the nuts and bolts of the country today and who are looking for leadership and a sign of where to go and who to follow. It is in yourselves and not in the stars. It is right in front of you.
I am assembling a set of focus groups this week to test some ideas for themes and messages for a campaign. If you are interested in that, please write your names down in the book that has been provided with your e mail address and a phone contact.
So I hope you enjoy this short work. There is a great deal of food for thought.
Tonight we remember Sir Clement T. Maynard, one the original members of the Majority Rule Cabinet, who is gravely ill. Let us remember him our prayers.
Thank you all for coming and enjoy the book.