Turnquest: Ingraham No Threat
Free National Movement Leader Tommy Turnquest said on the Love 97 Radio Programme “Jones and Company” Sunday that former Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham is no threat to him.
While addressing a group of administrative professions in Freeport, Grand Bahama last month, Mr. Ingraham referred to his departure from frontline politics as a "hiatus" and said it could stay that way as long as those who are now in office advance The Bahamas and its people.
Mr. Turnquest said, “I did not consider it to be a threat against me. I do not consider Mr. Ingraham to be a threat to my leadership. Mr. Ingraham is a former leader, a former prime minister. He remains a sitting MP as an FNM MP in our parliament.
“He is very supportive of me and my leadership and I don’t in the slightest way feel threatened by him or by his remarks. He said that people said when I was prime minister that I talked too much and I didn’t listen enough. Now they’re saying I’m not saying enough, perhaps I’ll get it right one day.”
Mr. Turnquest said a lot of people try to pit him against Mr. Ingraham, but he said, “I’m not going there.”
“I’m comfortable with my leadership, I’m comfortable with his position,” he added. “There are persons in the FNM who have tried to get Mr. Ingraham to come back. I believe that those persons are not prepared to work as hard as we have to work in order for us to gain the government.
“They see Mr. Ingraham as a person who did it before and feel that if he came back we would just automatically win. Well, that’s not going to happen.
When asked by the show’s host, Wendall Jones, whether Mr. Ingraham was a cloud over his leadership, Mr. Turnquest said, “Mr. Ingraham is a very dominating personality in terms of Bahamian politics. Lots of persons either love him or hate him, but Mr. Ingraham in my view, and I believe in the view of the majority of FNM’s, will not become leader of the FNM again.”
Mr. Jones then asked, “Wouldn’t it be better for you as leader of the FNM for him to retire from frontline politics and give you advice rather than being, as some people say, meddlesome?”
Mr. Turnquest responded, “I don’t consider Mr. Ingraham meddlesome in my leadership. Some people believe that Mr. Ingraham is going to come back or wants to come back as leader of the FNM and prime minister of The Bahamas. I do not share that view. I believe that Mr. Ingraham has a passion for the political scene in The Bahamas. He’s in the parliament.
“Mr. Ingraham didn’t want to run in the last election in North Abaco, but he ran and won his seat and thankfully so…I’m not sure that we can win a bye election in North Abaco at this time and until I’m sure about that, I don’t see any reason to ask Mr. Ingraham to step down.”
He added, “Mr. Ingraham serves a very useful purpose for me being in the House of Assembly and the House of Assembly is where the action is. I do not have a seat in the House of Assembly.”
Mr. Jones then asked, “Aren’t you upstaged by his presence?”
“I don’t feel upstaged,” Mr. Turnquest responded. “I am comfortable as the leader of the FNM.”
When asked whether Mr. Ingraham was more responsible that any other politician in the FNM for the defeat of the party in the last general elections, the FNM leader said Mr. Ingraham has to accept a degree of responsibility for the FNM defeat.
But he said, “I believe that the blame game as to who is responsible for us losing is not important in terms of us moving forward.
“I have now done an analysis in terms of the reasons as to why we have lost. I use that analysis now as the basis of my strategy of us winning the next election and so I don’t intend to make or let the FNM make the same mistakes we made in the election campaign of 2002…in fact, I intend to have learnt sufficiently from those mistakes and from any successes we may have had in order for the FNM to be successful in the next general elections.”
He then reiterated that he does not feel undermined by Mr. Ingraham.
Prime Minister Perry Christie, who was a guest on the same show a week earlier, was also asked to respond to comments made by Mr. Ingraham in Grand Bahama.
He said, “One of the interesting and intriguing questions for The Bahamas will be whether Hubert Ingraham and a Perry Christie representing both sides of the political spectrum will square up against each other and quite frankly to the real politician in both of us, it is more than intriguing.
“It’s one of those things that you have become very curious over. I don’t know though whether that is something that is real for Mr. Ingraham. He indicated to the country that he wanted to do two terms. He had two terms. He’s in retirement now and it takes a major set of facts to converge for him, I think, to make a decision to move forward. But that’s neither here nor there, that’s an FNM problem.”
The prime minister then added, “I quite frankly do not believe and I cannot anticipate from my point of view that the FNM will beat my party in the next election even though we’re two and a half years away at least from a general election.
“My job is to ensure that my party complies with its programme that it presented to the Bahamian people and remain relevant to the Bahamian people and I have to be satisfied that if we do those things that we would win, no matter who is the leader of the other side.”