NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Marco City MP Michael Pintard lashed out at the Westminster system during Wednesday’s confidence vote, insisting, “there is no whip on me”.
Pintard underscored the independence of his actions during his contribution to the debate on an amended resolution for a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minister in Parliament.
Though Pintard voted in favor of the amended resolution, he castigated the practice of enforcing a party position.
“When I hear the term that the whip is on, as an African, who happen to live in The Bahamas and now labeled Bahamian, as an African, it is one of the most offensive characterization of what governs how I behave in this place, for there is no whip on me,” Pintard said.
“I speak my mind, it doesn’t matter who it is, I try to do so respectfully and humbling.
“So, if I’m not of a certain mind, I will not comply with whatever that request is by whoever.
“I understand conventions. If it is one of those non-negotiable things in the Westminster system, I would gladly step aside.”
In the Westminster system of governance, “the whip” serves as the party’s enforcers and helps to organize the party’s contribution to parliamentary business.
Among their responsibilities is to make sure party members vote the way of the party.
Pintard’s comments came after Golden Isles MP Vaughn Miller resigned from the Free National Movement during a scathing review of the Minnis administration.
The Golden Isles MP said he was ostracized and reviled by his colleagues.
Miller also said he was told his political career was finished and that he should not expect another nomination.
For his part, Pintard said: “I am not attached to any particular position that I now hold.
“So there is no whip on me and I am not alone in this regard, for any number of my colleagues are accustomed to speaking truth to power.
“And so, I would just caution members of our team or members opposite, let us not do what we accuse others of doing.
“We should not be in this place in this business demonizing each other.”
During the 2018/2019 budget debate in the Senate, Attorney General Carl Bethel said that while parliamentarians have a right to free speech, whenever the whip is on, they must toe the party line.
Bethel made the comment as he addressed the firings of former parliamentary secretaries Travis Robinson and Vaughn Miller, and former Hotel Corporation Chairman Fredrick McAlpine, after they voted against the government rise of value-added tax (VAT) from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.
“If the whip is on, you must vote according to the whip,” Bethel said at the time.