With less than a year away from the constitutionally due general election we must turn our attention to the screening process of the People’s National Movement, which has been deemed a farce by many of the local ground support of the party. In all reality we are not surprised and the current happenings is just the style of elitist leadership embraced by Dr. Rowley and the cabal he is in the process of creating. The Rowley led PNM is disconnected more than ever from its traditional voter base and should the party continue this trend of alienation, including that of the influential Isha Wells, the PNM is setting the stage for a harder uphill battle in 2015.
This however is not about winning an election; it is about representation and it is an open book for examination of the PNM under Dr. Rowley and his cabal in creation. Isha Wells has been an instrumental voice for rallying the red army. As a “political personality” while we consider her a bit militant Ms. Wells is a leader and while we may completely disagree with her politics, if we are going to talk about representation or at least a new concept of representation for the long-standing PNM constituencies that have been denied the highest quality of parliamentary representation under successive PNM governments and the currently in the Opposition, Isha Wells will do more for the people of Port of Span South than their current MP Marlene McDonald.
Dr. Rowley assumed the leadership of the PNM by default and conventional parliamentary practice – Manning’s carrying the party to a general election loss led to the elevation of Dr. Rowley. A PNM victory in 2010 would have left Dr. Rowley in a rather tricky position; and let us for the sake of argument assume a PNM 2010 victory won the same amount of seats the People’s Partnership did, Rowley could have been left as a back-bencher for his behavior and without a ministerial portfolio.
He eventually cemented his leadership of the party in the internal-elections, which was not necessary, but he had to give his leadership a frontage of credibility in spite of his uncoordinated and lackluster performance in the parliament because to date he has presented no viable or authentic policy alternative. Nevertheless, he remains the political leader of the PNM and he will lead them into the general election.
As Dr. Rowley assembles his team for 2015, a number of current PNM MP’s who owed some debt of allegiance to former political leader Patrick Manning will be out. Among them, Patricia McIntosh, Amery Browne, Paula Gopee-Scoon, NiLeung Hypolite, Alicia Hospedales, and Fitzgerald Jeffery. These were all Manning’s picks, and for the most part they are all safe seats MPs. Why is Marlene McDonald not on this list of MP’s that Dr. Rowley will ultimately dismiss? She has entered Rowley’s cabal, will more than likely keep her safe seat causing Isha Wells to wait.
Closely related is the possibility of these sitting MP’s pulling their support from Dr. Rowley in favor of another Opposition Leader within their ranks, possibly Mr. Manning himself. Should this happen, it does not change the status of Dr. Rowley as political leader but it no longer cements his leadership and give us further evidence that he has ran away with the leadership but has abandoned the base.
Added to this is Mr. Manning himself, which makes it even is complicated if it isn’t already. Reports have indicated Manning is considering being screened to run again for San Fernando East. This is a dilemma for Dr. Rowley and the screening committee. Do you deny Mr. Manning the right to contest the seat if he chooses and he deems himself in good health? Do you allow Mr. Manning and keep him around with full knowledge of the rifts present between both men? If human beings were branded as cows are branded, the brand of ‘wajang and hooligan’ placed on Dr. Rowley by Mr. Manning will never be erased. Only Mr. Manning was able to challenge the behavior of Dr. Rowley, in fact, he called it out. None of the current MP’s could have done that nor had the tenacity to steer the leadership of the PNM in a direction of new politics. The lobbying of members of the government by Opposition MP’s had to be done privately out of sight and sound of the Opposition Leader whose major influences included Faris Al Rawi and Fitzgerald Hinds, neither of whom currently hold elected seats and actually had to represent people in the parliament. The influence of Al Rawi, Hinds and McDonald on Rowley spells nothing but elitism to the point of turning up their noses on the people of the ground. This is how they operate. They are disconnected from the people they want to represent. They cannot say this about Isha Wells.
Isha is young and has the capacity to provide high quality representation to the people of Port of Spain South. It would be unfortunate if she is rejected by the screening committee, but it should be a time of reflection for her. We believe that Isha has a good heart and she cares about her community and her country. The care for her community she shows, her advocacy, and the work she has done as an activist and a voice that rally the troops is evidence of the representation that she is capable of providing that will break the historical mold of non-representation of the PNM especially in their safe seats. Isha can connect with the youths of the area many of who are non-participants in the politics because the politics and their politicians cannot or refuse to connect with them. She is now being rejected by the political organization she has poured time and effort into including her efforts to bring home the 12 nil PNM victory in Tobago.
If rejected, Isha should mount a strong challenge in Port of Spain South against the PNM. If she truly wants to represent the people of Port of Spain South she should let nothing stop her, not even the PNM machinery that might be against her. We wish her the best because we are aware of the capacity she has and the people of Port of Spain South deserves no less.