So, I’ve been able to confirm that Mr. Wayne Furbert has indeed joined the PLP and will sit in the House of Assembly as a PLP MP. I expect it to be a focus of various articles in the Sun and the RG today and it should make for some curious reading.
From some PLP members I have spoken with – who were able to confirm the move – I have been astounded by their thoughts on the issue. Either I am way out of touch with the prevailing spirit within the PLP, or the PLP is way out of touch with the conditions on the ground and I am not. Only time will tell I guess. Either way I don’t come to my positions on the basis of their popularity but on the basis of my own ethics, which lead me to democratic socialism, a contempt for political turncoats and a disgust for kindergarten politics, like we’ve seen with the latest fiasco of parliament which is the Budget Debate.
From the PLP members I’ve spoken too their reasoning is that this is a coup for the PLP, that it brings a new seat to the Party and that Mr. Furbert is popular in his constituency. Ultimately they see it as a win-win situation for the PLP.
I beg to differ. If anything it is a lose-lose situation for the PLP.
First though, lets deal with these three lines of reasoning:
Is it a coup for the PLP?
This thinking is based on the idea that Mr. Furbert has rejected both the UBP and the BDA as viable organisations and that his joining the PLP equates to a vote of confidence in the PLP. It also goes with the idea that it causes a huge embarrassment for the UBP, that a former UBP Leader would join the PLP – another nail in the coffin of this moribund organisation.
While it is true that Mr. Furbert would seem to have rejected the UBP his actions there are easily portrayed as little more than sour grapes, and understandably so. He was cruelly treated by the UBP recently. He should never have been elected to their Leadership and his election was largely seen (and easily portrayed by the PLP) as little more than UBP tokenism. He was never a strong leader and was often the butt of parliamentary jokes. Indeed I often criticised PLPers who would both publicly and privately attack Mr. Furbert’s poor speaking skills. I abhor such childish personal attacks, partly due to my own speech impediment, and partly as it legitimises reciprocal attacks when anti-PLPers criticise certain PLP MPs for their poor speaking skills (Ministers Burgess and Roban are often singled out for such childish attacks for example). All the same, the criticisms of Mr. Furbert, as inefficient, incompetent and generally a bumbling fool, were, in my opinion, very valid criticisms.
For the BDA, Mr. Furbert maintains he rejected them. The BDA maintains they rejected him. The lack of clarity there would incline people to stand back and take both claims with a good deal of salt. Either way, this murkiness is hardly something the PLP should crow about, and it doesn’t support any claims about this being a coup.
An extra PLP seat?
Well, yes, it does formally give the PLP an extra seat in the House of Assembly. As the PLP already has an overwhelming majority in the House this really doesn’t change any of the arithmetic in the House. Its nice, but its not a big deal. More importantly, it was not won as a PLP seat. It was won as a UBP seat. Without a by-election to receive a popular mandate for his change and for this constituency to be a legitimate PLP seat it makes a mockery of any pretence to democracy. It may be perfectly legitimate under Westminster systems, but it isn’t in the spirit of democracy, of which the PLP has historically campaigned for. Mr. Furbert should resign his seat ASAP and the PLP Branch there needs to select a new candidate and contest a by-election.
But he’s popular with his constituents…
I honestly laughed out loud when I heard this line of argument. While being popular is nice, it is not everything. For one thing, Mr. Furbert was ‘popular’ as a UBP MP, not as a PLP MP. If the PLP is only focused on popularity and maintaining power then it is little more than a Party of opportunism. In so doing it is a slap in the face to labour activists who have dedicated their lives to building organised labour and social and economic justice. These members instead should have focused their lives on popularity contests it turns out – heck, by this line of reasoning they should actually join the UBP or the BDA first, spend years advocating their policies, and then, maybe, they will be rewarded by the PLP! The absurdity of it all!
Another line of argument that I’ve heard from PLP friends is ‘people change’. I accept that. People are entitled to re-evaluate their views. No problem there. However I do find it strange that a man who has dedicated almost two decades of his life to the UBP can easily come out of the closet as PLP. This man was a UBP Minister (of Transport) in the last UBP Government, and has served as the Leader of the UBP. His whole political life has been based on opposing everything the PLP supposedly stood for. And now he is to be welcomed with open arms? I don’t think so. People change, but not that much. What is more likely is that the PLP has so degenerated from a Party of principle to a Party of opportunism. Mr. Furbert has not changed his stripes – the PLP has instead just revealed its own. The fact that the PLP has attacked certain UBPers (and now BDAers) like Mr. Shawn Crockwell for their pasts just makes it even more ridiculous that they today champion the idea of ‘people can change’.
Mr. Furbert joining the PLP is not a win-win situation for the PLP.
It is a lose-lose one. The PLP loses, as an organisation, some of the few remaining shreds of integrity and principle it still had after over a decade of failing to realise its potential. By associating itself with someone of such questionable character as Mr. Furbert it reinforces the image of the PLP of today as being one of pure opportunism.
Mr. Furbert, in the PLP’s own words, is inefficient and incompetent. From a national perspective he is a discredited politician and an opportunist of the highest order. His dabbling in questionable business practices verging on pyramid schemes makes associating with him, especially with the PLP’s own taint of ‘unethical but not illegal’ business actions, particulary foolish. As the PLP so often reminded Mr. Crockwell, character counts. And Mr. Furbert’s character is such that he should be avoided like the plague, at least in political circles. As long as he sits as a PLP MP I cannot support the PLP. I hope that the Branch in constituency six sees fit to reject him as their representative and call for a by-election, as the longer he holds that position the worse it reflects on the PLP.
Character counts, and being associated with people of questionable characters reflects badly on the PLP. There are too many opportunists in the PLP as it is, and the PLP today is hardly recognisable as the party of social and economic justices. There are still many good and dedicated activists within the PLP, but the opportunists are legion and they are often fast-tracked to important positions within the Party. This is too bad, and the Party suffers as a result. What is more, so does the country as a whole.
I actually don’t know what is more repugnant though. That the PLP could accept as an MP an individual who they mercilessly lambasted as a bumbling fool or that Mr. Furbert can happily associate with people who so pitilessly crucified him for his shortcomings, right up to mocking his speech impediments.