Mitchell hopes Kingsley Smith attracts young faces to a dying party
Chairman of the Progressive Liberal Party Fred Mitchell insisted the party’s newest ratified candidate Kingsley Smith is rooted in the party despite his most recent switch from the Free National Movement as he runs on the party’s ticket for West Grand Bahama and Bimini in the upcoming by-election.
Smith faced a bitter battle to become the nominee on Friday amidst strong opposition from some party insiders and supporters who remained adamant that he was not a good pick since he has ties to the FNM.
He left the FNM in 2020 to join the PLP. His run incited the circulation of a video showing him dressed in FNM paraphernalia.
Former Immigration and Labour Minister Shane Gibson’s supporters hoped the party would select him as its standard bearer instead, but a squabble ensued between him and Party Chairman Fred Mitchell.
“Brave gatta go,” and “Fred gatta go” a group rowdily shouted at the party’s headquarters after Smith was declared the nominee.
Hoping that everyone gets on board with the party’s decision, Mitchell maintained in a voice note that Smith’s father Kingsley Smith Sr was a stalwart councillor in the Progressive Liberal Party and Smith once served as the Progressive Young Liberal before leaving the party to support his uncle, Dennis Martin, who ran for the FNM in 1992.
“He is safely back in the PLP,” Mitchell affirmed PLP supporters hoping to calm nerves and mend the division after some supporters said they would not vote in the by-election since Smith was elected.
After Smith won in the run-off with Gibson, Prime Minister and Party Leader Philip Davis said he represented a “fresh and new” face to the party which appears to be a direct contrast to Gibson who once served in the PLP’s administration as Minister of Immigration, Labour and Training and was embroiled in bribery scandal but won his case and sued government, settling for 2.5 million dollars after claiming malicious prosecution and false imprisonment.
While endorsing 50-year-old Smith, Fred reminded party supporters, that most of the party was made of the old guard and needed to present younger candidates, adding that Smith is the party’s “attempt to change course, selecting younger people.”
Paraphrasing a 2007 report done by the party, Mitchell said that “if PLP did not change, it was heading for the graveyard.”
“Stalwart councillors were largely over 70 years and in 5 years, 50% would have gone on to glory.”
He continued, “We have no choice but to look to the future, no choice but to attract, invite, embrace a new generation. We have no choice but to lead, guide, direct and embrace them while we are still alive.”
Mitchell himself is 70 years old while Davis is 72 years old.
The FNM’s pick to run in the area, Bishop Ricardo Grant is 55.
Photo credit: Fred Mitchell on social media