Ten men, bent on rendering violence and mayhem, in order to stop a political meeting of rebel PLP members, were only waiting for the opportune moment to strike. Ten men were pretending to be part of a group of some 500 Bahamians waiting eagerly to hear from rebel PLP member Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and others, on that night in November 1970. But, just as Maurice Moore, PLP Member of Parliament for Grand Bahama, stood to call for a rousing prayer, to open the political meeting, at Lewis Yard, Freeport, Grand Bahama, the ten men struck.
They struck hard. Soon, some would be left, on the floor; bloodied and beaten.
In November 1970, for political maverick, and lawyer, Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, it had only been a month since resigning his Cabinet position, as Education Minister, in the ruling Progressive Liberal Party government, when the needle of the political machinery’s rough end, pointed towards him. It smashed him over the head – literally!
That night, Sunday 15th November 1970, after being left bruised and horribly shaken by sudden violence, Cecil Wallace-Whitfield an epiphany came to the man who once a Pindling confidant. Wallace-Whitfield realised his life was about to change once again. Little did he know, that the course of Bahamian history would also be changed, forever.
In 1969, the Progressive Liberal Party, had only been the governing party, for two years, when policy and personality differences, began to chip away at party loyalty. By 1970, there was an all out rebellion. Mounting differences between Premier Lynden Pindling and several key members of his Cabinet and backbench became irreconcilable. An attempt by some, to oust Pindling, through a ‘no confidence vote’ failed. Pindling, to his credit, after his hard fought journey to political power, was not about to let a handful of party dissidents steal the dream.
When the cut came, it would hurt, and it would be final.
Of the original 1967 Progressive Liberal Party Cabinet, by 1970, five members would be gone. By the end of November 1970, Cecil Wallace-Whitfield, Jeffrey Thompson, Warren Levarity, Arthur Foulkes, Dr. Curtis McMillan and the man who helped the PLP achieve Majority Rule in 1967, Randol Fawkes, would also be out. Fawkes would be returned to an independent Labour Party member in the House of Assembly.
GANG DEMOLISHES PEACEFUL RALLY OF REBEL PLP MEMBERS
Deputy Premier Arthur D. Hanna said on Sunday night that he deplored the action of the group, regardless of who it supported, “if they used actual violence.”
“If there are harsh issues involved, this is the type of thing you must expect in the Bahamas.”Deputy Premier, Arthur D. Hanna, on the rally disrupted by a gang of men and beating of former PLP Education Cabinet Minister Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and others.
PLP Members of Parliament for Grand Bahama Maurice Moore, tries to stop another chair from landing Cecil Wallace-Whitfield’s back, when his hand is cut in the melee by a sharp object.
Who was part of the attacking group?
Plain clothes policemen, stood by and did nothing!
Less than a month later after the Freeport incident…
6th December 1970 – Two Year Suspension For Rebel PLP Members of Parliament
Political turning points in modern Bahamian history, seemed to happen in sharp, irreversible moments and events. Ideologies live and die with leaders and their policies, that’s for sure. The ideology which gave rise to the majority rule movement fractured somehow shortly after power was won. Something happened within the Progressive Liberal Party at the highest echelon, in those early years, which changed the course of modern Bahamian politics, under negro leadership, forever.
Liberal and Conservative; Left and Right; Moderate and Progressive were all birthed from the same Bahamian womb.
Majority Rule ideology could never have survived under a single leader. It was too broad. Too all encompassing. There were simply too many smart men. Too many professionals. To many of the street smart and book educated to allow only one policy to be heard.
As one journey came to an end for some within the PLP; new beginnings emerged for others. Such becomes the way in politics.