By E.J. Rolle
There was the assumption that “no news” from Fredrick McAlpine was good news.
Staunch Free National Movement (FNM) supporters were content to see the outspoken preacher “hold his tongue” for a number of months, giving the party some “breathing room” to carry out its mandate, without being poked in the eye by one of their own.
However, like an active volcano which always has some stirrings beneath the surface, waiting to explode, McAlpine’s silence was never a sure thing. And eventually, the verbal volcano of Fredrick McAlpine began spewing its lava and heated gases, which is becoming toxic to the FNM government.
During his contribution to the mid-year budget, the Member of Parliament for Pineridge lashed out at his government, comparing them to a “Pinocchio Government.” He accused his own government of moving deceptively when it comes to the Bahamian people, with what the government says and what it does.
“We’re looking dishonest,” he told the House of Assembly on Monday.
“Words like accountability, transparency, credibility, trust, better, honesty and forward-thinking used to be the mantra of a Free National Movement FNM Government. These words helped to build the legacy of the FNM and in one term, those words seem to have lost their potency within this political regime.
“I came by to tell you that the Bahamian people are tired!”
As the Parliament fell into silence – not out of respect, but out of interest to see what was coming next – McAlpine dug in even more. He criticized the amount of money the government has borrowed since coming into office.
“We borrowed $3 billion since coming to office and the tragedy of all of this is that people can’t see, touch or feel anything as a result of this borrowing,” McAlpine contended.
“The national debt has gone up and the debt to GDP has increased, notwithstanding, you will say things are better. But for who? For the ordinary and average man on our streets, ask them and they will tell you without fear or contradiction that the Bahamian people are tired.”
While no one bothered to challenge McAlpine for the most part of his contribution, it was not until he began talking about the benefits for Cabinet ministers and their wives, that Government leader in the House Renward Wells stood up to challenge the claim, noting that such a policy was always in place.
Although McAlpine did not get much push back from House members on the floor of Parliament, an FNM Stalwart Councilor has admitted to The Compass that the upper echelon of the party is fed up with McAlpine’s ranting. They are considering his “Pinocchio” comment in Parliament has crossed the line.
“They want him gone,” said the Stalwart Councilor. “They want him gone…like today….not tomorrow…not when election comes around…they want him gone today!
“We thought that McAlpine had finally began to sit small, because he was quiet for a while. We know that he ain’t no mouse and that he ain’t the type to stay quiet for long, but we felt sure that he would have been quiet longer, at least after the Prime Minister announced that the campaign had officially began. We figured he had gotten everything out his system.”
Obviously they were wrong.
It is uncertain why McAlpine had remained silent for so long, nor is it certain why he has made the decision to begin his attacks on the government again, but McAlpine is proving that he’s not about to sit quietly in a corner.
Remember, in 2018, Prime Minister, Hubert Minnis fired McAlpine from his position as chairman of the Hotel Corporation, after he voted against the government’s increase in value added taxes from 7.5 percent to 12 percent.
He’s certainly had his share of contentions against a number of government issues, including the government’s decision to purchase the Grand Lucayan Resort; the decision to move the general post office into a building owned in part by former Cabinet Minister Brent Symonette and he’s been vocal on the Oban Energies deal from the start.
The last time McAlpine had lashed out against his own government was October of last year following Hurricane Dorian’s rampage through Abaco and Grand Bahama. At the time, McAlpine criticized the government’s talk about passing legislation for mandatory evacuations.
He said it made no logical sense to do such a thing without having safe places on every island to send evacuees.
“McAlpine has been a thorn in the side of the government ever since he was elected,” said the FNM Stalwart Councilor. “It’s crazy because McAlpine became a good candidate because of his ability to speak and communicate. Everyone remembers those speeches he delivered at the rallies.
“It was his mouth that got him elected and now it’s his mouth that’s getting him in trouble.”
Asked if she felt that McAlpine was harping on issues just to try and make the government look bad, or if she felt that there was some bearing to any of the arguments he has raised over the years, the FNM Councilor hesitated before admitting that there may be some legitimacy to some of the issues which he has raised – not all.
“But the decent thing to do is not to air the party’s laundry in public,” the Councilor added. “If he has a problem with certain issues, then McAlpine should go to the leaders of the party and express the problem he has. Not go out there and make the government…the government he is a part of…look bad.
“That’s what a decent family does. I know my family has plenty issues and when I was growing up, my brothers and sisters, we fought and cuss out each other all the time, but I know one thing, we wouldn’t let an outsider talk to any of our family members in any kind of way and no one dared to try and touch one of the my brothers or sisters, cause I would fight like hell to defend them.
“That’s how family works. You may have issues with each other, but you never publicly go against each other.”
The Councilor admitted that there are some people in the FNM party who actually support McAlpine and his public verbal lynching of the government. Many would not openly admit their support for McAlpine because of the backlash that could occur.
And there is irony in all of this. McAlpine says that in spite of his frequent berating of the government, he remains an FNM and has no plans of going anywhere else. But with the hierarchy of the party wanting him out, McAlpine may have to seek his political aspirations with another party as there is uncertainty whether the FNM party will endorse a candidacy for the outspoken preacher.
With the 2022 political campaign already in full swing, McAlpine will have to make a decision if he wants to revise any hope of the FNM party reconsidering him as an FNM candidate for the general elections.
He will have to decide to fall in line with the party and stop all public reprimanding of the party; or he will have to make up his mind to run as an Independent in 2022; although word in political circles are whispering that if the FNM does not want McAlpine, the PLP just might consider giving him a shot.
If that is the case, then as consumer protection agencies normally warn consumers when purchasing anything they may be uncertain about, let the PLP be warned “buyer beware.”