APRIL 18th, 2002

There are now only 14 days to D-Day!  The PLP is running strong and the FNM is running scared.  In the war-room of the FNM, it’s time to press the panic button and pull out all the stops.

Nothing has worked for the FNM so far:

· They have tried to tell lies on us and it has backfired every time.
· They have spent millions of dollars on slick advertising and it has been money down the drain.
· They have tried to bring back the ghost of the old PLP but the Bahamian people have told them they have no time for “old story time”.
· They have tried to come up with catchy slogans like “Home Run 10,000” and “Apprenticeship 5000” but the Bahamian people have seen for themselves that these are just empty election-promises from empty-headed men.
· They have tried to portray Tommy T as the “leader for our times” but the message that keeps coming back is that Tommy T is in way over his head and simply does not have what it takes to be a leader this time, or any other time.

So it’s panic time in the war-room of the FNM!

So what do they do?

GAMEPLAN # 1:  They bring back Hubert from the dead.

Tommy just can’t cut it!  So the FNM’s council- -of-war gets together and says, “We made a mistake.  We sent a boy to do a man’s job.  It’s time to raise Hubert from the dead”.  So they raise Hubert up.  They dust him off.   They wind him up.  And they send him out to take charge once again.

But understand what this means.  The FNM now has two leaders, not one!  Don’t take it from me.  Take it from ZNS.  Under the election broadcast policy of the Broadcasting Corporation, coverage is only provided for the leaders of the political parties.  That is why when you watch or listen to ZNS, I am the only one you see and hear speaking at PLP rallies.  And that is also why, until last week, Tommy was the only one you saw and heard speaking at FNM rallies.

But have you noticed the change?  ZNS is now covering both Tommy and Hubert.  Under the election broadcast policy of ZNS, the only way they can do that is if Hubert is the leader of the FNM too.  Well, ZNS which is owned and run by the Government, must think he is because they are now covering him too!

Now, ask yourself this question: If the FNM now has two leaders, Tommy and Hubert, which one do you think is really in charge?   Which one do you think is calling the shots?  Which one do you think is giving orders to the next one?

And I have an even more important question for you tonight:

If, God forbid, the FNM were to win the election, which one do you think will take the credit?  Which one do you think will still want to call the shots even if he doesn’t wear the crown?  Which one do you think will really be in charge?

And let me ask you another question:  If Tommy can’t handle it now, how can he handle the even bigger job he is asking you to give him?

Now let me ask you this question:  Do you really want more 5 more years of Ingraham running this country?

But you know, I may be wrong.  Maybe Tommy is really the only Leader.  So let me ask you this: Do you really want to put your future in the hands of Tommy Turnquest for the next 5 years?

I turn now to:

GAMEPLAN # 2:  Now this one is a little more sinister so I want you to pay especially close attention to what I say.  This second new strategy the FNM has come up with is this: “if we can’t reason with people to vote for us, no problem, we’ll just buy them out!”

And I can prove it to you!

I have in my hand here a letter that was sent out to all MPs, including PLP MPs, in the last House of Assembly.  It was sent out just two days ago.  It was sent from the Ministry of Works.  It is under the signature of the Permanent Secretary in that Ministry.  But the Permanent Secretary, Anita Bernard, is a smart, sensible and decent lady, and so in her letter she is very careful to make it clear that this is not her idea.  Instead, she lets you know where the instructions are coming from.  She says in the letter that she is only carrying out what the Cabinet has decided.  She even gives the Cabinet Conclusion reference.

Now so that there is no mistake about this, I will read the whole letter to you and remember now that 40 of these letters went out on Tuesday.  35 of them went to the former FNM MPs; 4 of them went to us; and 1 went to Dr. Nottage of the CDR.

Now you know what that means, don’t you?

40 constituencies X $50,000 equals $2,000,000.  The FNM had 35 constituencies in the last Assembly so 35 X $50,000 equals $1.75 million dollars.  So the bottom line is this: Hubert Ingraham and Tommy T have decided to take 1.75 million dollars of the hard-earned money you pay in taxes and use that money to try to help the FNM win the election.

No matter how you cut it that’s what it boils down to at a time like this.  The 35 FNM MPs in the last House will all send in their lists telling the Government exactly how they want the money spent in their constituencies.

Don’t worry about the PLP because we have no intention of even answering the letters they sent to us.  This is election time and it would be wrong for us to be any part of this and we won’t be.

But the point of the matter is this: the Government has no business, no right, sending those letters out at this time.  They have no business doing it because there are no MPs now!   Parliament is now dissolved.  Under the Constitution, every MP’s seat is vacated as soon as Parliament is dissolved.  There are therefore no MPs in existence at this time.  Members of the last House of Assembly have absolutely no status at all.  They are just plain candidates for re-election like all the others.

So if that is so, how can it be that the Government is inviting former MPs to tell them how the money is to be spent in their constituencies?  They have no constituencies.

Further, some MPs in the last House are not even running again.  They have retired.  On what basis, then, does the Government invite them to specify how the money is to be spent in their constituencies?

Further, the constituencies that the former MPs represented, with few exceptions, don’t even exist anymore.  The boundaries have all been changed.  So how is anyone able to identify the area within which the money is supposed to be spent?  And if they can’t, where does the Government get off asking former MPs how to spend the money in constituencies that do not exist anymore?

But the FNM isn’t worried about such things.  They couldn’t care less.  That’s how arrogant and cynical they are when it comes to using your money to help their own cause.  All they know is that they are going to take your money from the Treasury and they are going to spend that money to help their candidates - to the tune of $1.75 million that belongs not you.

And look when they decide to do it!  Two weeks before the election!  But it’s all a part, you see, of gameplan #2: “if we can’t reason with you, we’ll simply buy you”.

It only goes to show what they really think about you, doesn’t it?  You’re just a number to them.  Any man or woman who tries to buy you has no respect for you.  Understand that!  Don’t mind any smiling face!  If someone wants to stick some money in your hand, he is telling you he has no respect for you.  He is telling you he thinks he can buy you and own you the same way he can go to the store and buy a loaf of bread to eat.   He is insulting your dignity as a human being.  He is degrading you.  And remember this: any man who can buy you out can sell you out too.

But that’s not all the FNM is up to.

They have targeted young people with tennis!  They have ordered thousands of boxes of tennis shoes to give out to young men.  They are going to have “Air FNM” written on the side of these sneakers and they are going to be in the FNM colours.  “I give you some tennis, now free up; give me your vote!”  Good Lord, what have we come to!

But that’s not all.

I can also tell you tonight that the FNM has placed an order for $500,000 in $1 dollar bills.  My oh My!  Imagine that!  Pindlin’ ga be starin’ right up in your face when they give you those $1 notes to hold on to!  Wonder if they thought about that!

Anyway, that’s the name of the FNM game from now until Election Day. Gameplan #1 is that Hubert will take charge because Tommy just can’t handle it. And Gameplan #2 is that if they can’t reason with you, they are going to try to buy you out.

But it won’t work this time!  The Bahamian people have made up their minds that it is time for the FNM to go.  They can’t take it anymore!  They are fed up! Fed up with:

· arrogant men who let power go their head;
· men who talk about integrity but do not practice it;
· men who say they are forward-looking but who talk only about the past;
· men who brag about being young but whose ideas are old and tired;
· men who say that they are honourable but who trade in the currency of lies;
· men who claim to be clean and decent but who try every dirty, filthy trick in the book to feed their ambition for power;
· men and women who have had their time for 10 long years but whose time is now up.

The bottom line is this : It’s time for the FNM to go!

Now I want to go back to that $2,000,000 the Government is preparing to shell out from the Public Treasury to help FNM candidates.  They haven’t spent it yet so I want to tell the two Leaders of the FNM that I have a better idea as to how it should be spent - right now!

That same $2 million dollars should be used – used right now - to establish and fund a proper scheme of coverage for Police and Defence Force Officers who die or become disabled in the line of duty.  Not some little, measly handout to their widows and dependants but rather a properly funded, properly planned, properly invested scheme that would ensure that the families of Police and Defence Force Officers are properly provided for and so that their children can be properly educated and maintained and so that their widows will be able to live a decent and comfortable life.

That’s what the FNM Government should do with the $2 million dollars.  And they can do it right now instead of wasting it on FNM candidates.  But I know they’re not going to do it.

But we will!

It will be a priority of my government to see that such a scheme is designed, put out to bid among insurance companies, and brought fully into operation without delay.

And in only two weeks’ time, the work can begin because on May 3rd, we will, by the grace of God and with the support of the Bahamian people, begin the task of looking after the interests of our people with vision and proper planning; with integrity; with a  competent team of PLP ministers and members of parliament; and with a social compassion to guide us; social compassion that people like Tommy T simply do not know anything about and never will.

Good God, man!  I couldn’t believe it when I heard him say that $100 million dollars was too much to spend on national health insurance to save lives when this was the same man who sat around the table when close to $100 million dollars was frittered away on a privatization of that never happened.

Where are your priorities, Tommy?  How can you put the privatization of BaTelCo over helping people -poor people, old people, uninsured people – little, tiny children whose parents cannot afford private health insurance- how can you say that you can’t find the money to help them. You are prepared to stand by and let them die!  You are saying to them : “ If you’re rich or privately insured, you live but if you’re poor and uninsured, you die!”

But not me!  Not Perry Gladstone Christie!  I am going to be right there to help them; to see to it that these people don’t have to go begging around town for money; that they won’t have to stand on street corners with sponsor-sheets in their hand; that they won’t have to go fry fritters and fish out on some beach to raise money – and the money is never enough – to pay for operations and for medicines so that they can live.

Tommy doesn’t have to worry about something like that because he is a rich man with a rich daddy.  But he has to remember that most people in this country are struggling to keep their heads above water.  They simply don’t have the money for high-cost medical treatment and when they lose their jobs, they lose their insurance too.

We cannot accept that.  Our social conscience as a people must rise in revolt against it.  National Health Insurance, we believe, is the only way.