Smith: FNM ought to assess election loss before seeking to change leadership
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Ricardo Smith, leader of the Justice Labour Party (JLP), yesterday urged the Free National Movement (FNM) to reconsider the direction it has taken concerning former Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis as the party looks to select a new leader come its next convention.
“Minnis is certainly the superior candidate to lead the party and the thing is, it doesn’t mean that someone may not, over time, acquire the necessary political currency or create the type of groundswell support that indicates that they may be the best person going forward,” Smith said.
“But what you need right now is you need someone the public respects, someone that has the ability to pull all the pieces together of the party, and I believe no better person would be the incumbent and party leader.
“Again, this is not a permanent fix, and certainly something you can look at [at] a later time, but definitely for right now, in the interest of the party, that is the first order of business that you must look at after an election defeat.
“One of the things that you have to do is you have to do a thorough assessment of what happened in this election, and if you do that, one of the things that you have to recognize is that every time someone puts his name on the ballet, even though he takes the party ticket, he places the name of himself on that ballot, which means he has the responsibility to go out there and to sell the party’s ideas, as well as sell himself.
Smith said the FNM must examine the formula that allowed St Barnabas MP Shanendon Cartwright to hold onto his seat, an inner-city constituency that has had strong Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) support.
Smith, a long-time PLP member who left the party last September and formed the JLP two months later, said he supported the FNM in the last general election.
He explained that the JLP decided not to move forward and contest the election as there was insufficient time to mount a campaign.
Asked how he would respond to criticism that he was getting involved in the FNM’s affairs as an outsider, Smith said: “I am going to be involved in politics and I am going to be involved in the coming days in the FNM.
“I am someone who is closely associated with the father of the FNM in the person of the Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, and so I know the spirit of the party. I understand someone of the core principles. I can speak to some of those very concerns, so I am not getting in business that is not my own.”
Following its election defeat last month, the FNM decided to keep the Killarney MP on as leader of the opposition, though Minnis indicated he will step aside for new leadership to take the helm.
But in an exclusive interview with Eyewitness News, Minnis remained coy about whether he intends to seek reelection as leader of the party.