Senator blames political opponents and mainstream media for turning matter around, “even in the imagination of PLPs”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell has once again defended his recent trip to Grand Bahama following a month’s stay in the United States, insisting assertions that he breached quarantine are “complete rubbish”.
The senator was responding to questions on the Facebook show ‘Coffee Break’ with host Apryl Sands about whether he felt the electorate has a clear understanding of who PLP Leader Philip Brave Davis is and whether he represents the best leadership for the party.
Mitchell, who suggested views on certain issues in The Bahamas have been “dominated by a media which is not neutral”, referred to his visit to Grand Bahama which resulted in controversy.
He said his visit to the island was turned around by political opponents and “even in the imagination of PLPs”, an obvious reference to long-time PLP member Ricardo Smith, who announced his departure from the party, citing a loss of its foundational values and Mitchell’s “callous” disregard for the people of Grand Bahama during his visit.
“The visit to Grand Bahama was completely transparent,” Mitchell said.
“[We] said the reason we were going there, to hold up the flag for the party because the FNM has been using this COVID crisis to suppress the PLP going around.
“We said we are going there to remember the victims of Dorian; to test the rules of getting into the country under COVID; and also to thank the business community for forcing the government to open up the economy.
“That got turned around even in the imagination of PLPs about me breaking quarantine, which is just complete rubbish because I landed lawfully in the country without conditions.”
Photos purporting to show Mitchell at a Grand Bahama restaurant made the rounds on social media amid his visit, prompting criticisms.
Mitchell declined to comment on whether the photos showing him sitting at an outdoor table of a restaurant wearing a mask under his chin were during his most recent visit.
In a recorded video, Mitchell said “trolls” of the FNM were in a feeding frenzy and he had no intention of entering “that game and to enter any specific comments beyond what I said at the airport” last Wednesday.
On September 2, the PLP released a video of Mitchell being interviewed by ZNS upon arriving at Grand Bahama International Airport.
Of the visit, Smith said Mitchell displayed a total disregard for the community and he took “personal exception to this and concluded this behavior to be irreconcilable”.
As it relates to the PLP leader, Mitchell suggested that although the PLP has continued to use traditional and new methods to familiarize the electorate with Davis and his leadership, there has been difficulty breaking through mainstream media where Davis’ opponents seek to define who he is.
“…The question of whether Mr Davis is known or not is again an issue of his opponents defining who he is and not being able through the mainstream media to break through that,” he said.
“He is not what he is defined as or what they try to define him as and when people get to know him, which is why the only solution to it ultimately is on the ground, person by person, so that he defines himself as a great man.
“He’ll do wonderfully for the country and he needs to get a shot to run the country.
“We’re going to do everything possible to make sure that happens.”
Asserting that part of the reason for the Free National Movement’s overwhelming win at the polls in the last general election was messaging that resonated with the electorate, Mitchell said the PLP is seeking to lock on to the public’s mood.
“It seems to me in politics, you’re seeking and ranging up the dial,” he said.
“You try everything and then sometimes it’s a matter of luck, you just lock on to where the public mood is.
“And I think that’s what we’re doing now.
“We’re just trying everything we possibly can and most of this has to be carried of course by the people who are under 25, and I have a kind of — now at this age — kind of an avuncular relationship with most of them.
“So my role as I see it, is how things are organized in China. When you look at China you see everybody in the front is under 30 years of age, but in the back there is somebody saying ‘no, you have to do this, you have to do that’, and I think that’s where we are headed.”
Mitchell also said he believes his role is to prepare the PLP for the next generation of leaders.