Politics, in the Bahamas, is like a fickle sweetheart. Many have taken her to their warm bed at night, only to wake up in the morning to cold sheets, a broken heart and an empty wallet.
Neophytes, hoping to get into politics, run an arduous obstacle course like no other. Politics is the ultimate popularity contest and the would be politician, an ever ready contestant with a chameleon’s coat. Even with the huge machinery of large political party backing behind them, the road to winning that coveted Assembly seat, is harder than many realised. And once gotten, it is often not so easy to keep.
Prior to 1967, most people in the Bahamas, black and white, as well as every hue and tone, in between, was UBP. There was simply no other Party. The UBP was all the Bahamian people knew, especially on the Out Islands, now called Family Islands. The PLP, Progressive Liberal Party, was new. Despite the UBP being despised all round, for what was clearly a ‘take the money and run’ type government, no one else, prior to 1967, had any track record, to speak of, for running the country; and equally, having enough money to grease outstretched hands before entering the voting booth.
No real confidence was had in a negro government because it had simply never happened before. It had never been seen and felt and challenged by the people. Many didn’t even believe it could exist under British rule. A Negro-led government was altogether mere urban myth in the Bahamas; that is of course, until it happened in January 1967
1967 By-Election Proved Sir Stafford Sands And UBP Brand Still Had Substantial Political Clout Despite Huge Political Scandals
Legacies and Loyalties were the determining points in the Nassau by-election of August 1967. Sir Stafford Sands, the big man himself, deal maker extraordinaire, and the person many considered to be the real UBP premier of the Bahamas, had, not so unexpectedly quit politics and the country for good. Sands chose to live in self-imposed exile, away from the country he helped to build. He chose to rather than live under a negro-led Progressive Liberal Party government.
Arguably however, Sir Stafford’s brand was bigger than the UBP Party brand he represented. Sands the political personality was everywhere, he negotiated every deal and was photographed with every personality that mattered. Despite the fall out from mafia tainted gambling casino licenses, land dealing and profiteering scandals, Stafford’s 30-year political legacy, in his constituency, which included what was called the “silk stocking district” was so strong that the UBP, an all white political party, was able to run a Negro in the Bay Street area, in 1967, and win.
1967 Cleophus Adderley versus Milo Butler Jr. Son of new PLP Minister of Health Milo B. Butler
The white-minority UBP Party had to think strategically after their spectacular defeat in January 1967. Bay Street had been Sir Stafford’s sweetheart and he had taken good care of her in his time. Bay Street was the heart of Nassau. In fact, it was the beating heart of the entire Bahamas. The men who controlled the silk stocking district, had their hands and financial interests in every economic pie Sir Stafford managed to get baking in oven. He was still popular, months after quitting, despite his fall from political grace.
Cleophus Adderley’s profession was said to be an electrician in 1967. Adderley became the only Negro member of the United Bahamian Party in the 38-member of the Bahamas House of Assembly.
Cleophus Adderley beat Milo Butler Jr. 591 to 313 votes.
(The Boston Globe, Tuesday August 29, 1967)