Chester Cooper, the most refreshing aspect the small band of Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) members in the House of Assembly (just four) at the moment, has announced his intention to offer for the position of deputy leader during the upcoming October convention. It is clear that interim Leader Philip Davis is far and away the favorite to be the next substantive leader of the oldest political party in the country and only the third in over 50 years.
However, Cooper has a political presence that appears, even at this early stage, to be more acceptable to the young element of the PLP and those borderline voters, than Davis. Cooper is new to frontline politics and he provides an outlook that is more in keeping with what is necessary for the PLP to become connected once again to the majority of the electorate. Right out of the blocks, shortly after the May 10 general elections that saw his party devastated by the Free National Movement (FNM), Cooper boldly stated that there was a urgent need for the PLP leaders to take a different approach.
He did not mince words and spoke truth to the failings of the party while in governance from 2012 to 2017. Of course, diehards among the PLP’s old guard differed with him. They obviously prefer to keep their heads in the sand like the ostrich. Cooper, now must stand by his statements if he is to move along with political credibility.
We understand his approach quite well. He would certainly have been stung hard by the negative comments made regarding his early remarks about the direction the party ought to take. He did not respond, but is seeking to become the second most powerful man in the PLP. There is a good chance that he will be successful. Davis does not feel threatened, as yet, by Cooper and will not likely do or say anything to hurt his chances of becoming deputy leader.
In a new cast that would have Davis as the leader and Cooper as his deputy, it is the latter upon whom many in the nation, including disillusioned PLPs, will be looking to for the charting of a new course, one that does not have the appearance of corrupt tendencies and unwise national decisions. Cooper seems to realize what his mission has to be.
“As deputy leader, I can and will play a deliberate role in the rebuilding and transformation of the party. We will need all hands on deck, if we as a party and its leaders are to demonstrate to the nation that we are capable of rebounding from our recent loss and can become stronger, more efficient and more effective. As deputy leader, I commit to executing a plan to bring disaffected voters home to the PLP, attract new voters and expand our base with engagement and a commitment to swiftly confronting the woes that stifle our party and endanger our nation,” said a statement reportedly coming from Cooper on Wednesday.
He is huge on the need for the party to be reformed. Cooper will be opposed by those who feel there is nothing wrong with the PLP. He must stand strong and be courageous, if he intends to remain in the political arena for any meaningful length of time. He faces a big test. There are many long-standing PLPs who hold sway with party supporters. They will resist any kind of a change in the party. This is the case despite the fact that the present party character is not appealing to the masses.
Cooper will be counted on to lead the charge for a change.
Will he be up to the task?
Well, he has thrown his hat in the ring. The future holds the answer as to whether Cooper will be successful on his mission or be worn down and ultimately rendered inconsequential.