FNMs Attack Ingraham
By Candia Dames
Supporters of Free National Movement Leader Senator Tommy Turnquest, including some members of the FNM Action Group, have launched what has amounted to a campaign to block the return of former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham as leader of the party.
"Hubert Ingraham – you are still the most hated man in this country and the people will remind you of it if you go back on your word and challenge Tommy Turnquest as leader," said a letter forwarded to the press by supporters of Senator Turnquest over the weekend.
The scathing letter blames Mr. Ingraham for certain "failures", but does not acknowledge that Senator Turnquest was also a part of the Cabinet when those alleged failures occurred.
The letter came more than a week after FNM MP’s secured the support of the party’s Central Council to have Mr. Ingraham replace Alvin Smith as the FNM’s parliamentary leader.
The vote has resulted in a fierce internal battle in the party as observers wait to see if Mr. Smith will resign as leader of the Official Opposition.
Oswald Marshall, chairman of the Action Group, who commented on the matter on Saturday, said he doubts Mr. Ingraham will become the parliamentary leader.
"I don’t expect Ingraham [to return]," Mr. Marshall added. "They had some kind of idea that they would push Ingraham to the front of the party by getting him to take over leadership (in the House). I think they polluted that process and I understand that he is not doing that anymore. The council members [who voted against the move] felt that this was a prelude to Ingraham taking over the party."
The letter from Senator Turnquest’s supporters reminds council members who supported Mr. Ingraham’s return that it was the former prime minister "who botched the referendum" in 2002.
The letter continues: "It was Hubert Ingraham that promoted and left PLP’s in office while you the FNM controlled the government.
"It was Hubert Ingraham that destroyed the financial services sector through the enactment of ill-advised legislation;
"It was Hubert Ingraham that bludgeoned Batelco by giving packages to existing management and staff who were performing and performing well; "It was Hubert Ingraham that had all of the major unions up in arms through his policies and action;
"It was Hubert Ingraham who expelled senior men in the FNM who had been with the party way before he was on the scene."
The letter says, "Men such as Tennyson Wells and Pierre Dupuch, loyal supporters of ideals of the party, were discarded by Hubert Ingraham."
Although it was a claim former Deputy Prime Minister Frank Watson denied when he appeared on the Love 97 programme, "Jones and Company" just over a week ago.
Supporters of Senator Turnquest also accused Mr. Ingraham of operating "on his own terms without regard to his ministers."
The letter also accused the former prime minister of doing as he wished without reference to the concerns of the Bahamian electorate.
"He did not listen and the people just as they fell in love with him in 1992 and 1997 - hated him in 2002 and consequently voted the FNM out. That is why we lost by the margins we did, it said."
The letter added, "Now Mr. Ingraham seeks to use the FNM once more for his own selfish gain by sending his hatchet men such as Frank Watson, Hubert Minnis, Brent Symonette and those less than men parliamentarians to say the party needs him.
"No way, do we need Hubert Ingraham to lead this party. We have a leader of our own; one bred in the party - who paid his dues and has risen to the leadership position."
The letter continues, "We have reached an important milestone in the FNM when history will judge our actions as we prepare for the election in 2006 or 2007. Do we [want to] embrace a new leader who will take care of FNM’s in a fair way or do we bring back a rejected man?
"Tommy Turnquest may not be perfect in everyone’s eye, but he is 100 percent FNM."
When he spoke with The Bahama Journal on Thursday, Senator Turnquest said he had "no idea" whether Mr. Ingraham will become the new parliamentary leader as the other FNM MP’s wish.
But he reiterated that the former prime minister has assured him that he has no plans to again seek the leadership post of the FNM.