EDITORIAL: By-election discussions reveals respect for Obie

IT IS noteworthy how respectful our political world has been following the death of Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting Obie Wilchcombe.

At a time of mourning, there is also of course a very functional need to address what happens next in political terms.

Fred Mitchell, the PLP chairman, has shown consideration for the situation by saying that it “seems a bit unseemly” to be talking about by-elections, and suggesting that the family of Mr Wilchcombe ought to be involved in making decisions.

And now it seems there has been discussion within the FNM about whether to run a candidate at all in any such vote.

Whether it is a measure of the respect there is on both sides for Mr Wilchcombe, or an element of tactical consideration, it is notable that consideration has been given to not fighting any such vote.

What is important is that the people of West End and Bimini get the representation they deserve between now and the next general election.

There remain years ahead of this administration, more than likely, and the people that Mr Wilchcombe served need to have a voice in Parliament, a voice to fight for their needs, and an ear to listen to their concerns.

Whether that would mean best being served by a member of the ruling administration or by a member of the current Opposition between now and that future vote is a question the voters themselves must consider.

A third party winner is an unlikely option barring a major shock. The Coalition of Independents has done itself no favours with its deputy leader’s disrespectful involvement in the discussion following Mr Wilchcombe’s death, and the DNA is nowhere in sight these days. Its former leader, Branville McCartney, recently talked of how the country is not ready to accept a third party yet, and that seems unlikely to change by the time this by-election is held.

So voters in the constituency will be faced with the decision to stick with the outcome they got at the last election with a new PLP candidate instead, or twist to get an FNM candidate elected with limited power to influence the current administration.

Much will lean on how satisfied people are with the performance of that current administration – along with how much faith they will have in the new candidates.

First should come the proper farewell for Mr Wilchcombe, though, a salute to a widely respected politician. The campaigning should wait. The decisions should be behind closed doors.

There are other practical steps, of course. Mr Wilchcombe was a minister in a substantial post – a new appointee must step up to take that role.

Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis is temporarily assuming those duties, but you can be certain that will not be a prolonged situation.

Again, there is a measure of respect to be held here, to show Mr Wilchcombe his fair due rather than to too quickly replace him in that post.

All of this points to the esteem in which Mr Wilchcombe was held. Even as this discussion has begun, that too is a measure of the man.

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