Tag Archives: PNM

Lyndira to Jack: Boy, ah hittin’ the road

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The fanfare that came with Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party continues to die down from what can be seen as members leave one by one, the latest, Lyndira Oudit.   The exact reasons for Oudit’s departure is unknown and her relations with whatever is left of the ILP going forward are also unknown.  Nevertheless, the ILP has lost political steam and if there was a possibility of coalition with the PNM, it seems highly unlikely, but was it ever possible. Consider the marriage of such bedfellows.

While one can assume there was much disappointment in the loss of Mr. Warner from the People’s Partnership in 2013, as a political event that was a lifetime ago.   Despite the breakup and the eventual break away of Chaguanas West (CW) and some gains in local government elections, with several high profile resignations one must really question whether this party the ILP is quickly become a one-man show.  A man who was considered a hardworking government minister and delivered to the people of CW and to the people of Trinidad and Tobago under the People’s Partnership Government has all but lost his political way.

Now aligned with the PNM Opposition forces, the same PNM Opposition who questioned and pressured the current to get rid of Mr. Warner.   Given the FIFA baggage and an on investigation, one must continue to wonder about the dealings and desperation of the PNM leader Dr. Keith Rowley in his attempt to win the 2015 general elections.     Once again the PNM is caught is an apparent tailspin and so many questions arise about the strength of a coalition if any that could have existed with between the ILP and the PNM.

First, it would have been a coalition built on spite and possibly hate.    Given the on going dismantling of the ILP which began since the end of the Local Government Election in 2013, the actions of Mr. Warner who once held the Chairmanship of the UNC and given what one would call a “safe seat” has been nothing but spiteful efforts to malign the government.   While the extent of Mr. Warner’s issues with the Honourable Prime Minister is unknown, if there is any, his constant talking points of the cabal and whether during Parliamentary contributions, in the Sunshine newspaper or party sponsored radio programmes he has demonstrated his intentions.    This would have been the spite aspect of the coalition.

Second, many who turned away from Partnership and during the CW and St. Joseph by-elections and the local government elections are returning to the fold.   While everything may not be perfect within the Partnership the possibility of a coalition with people who embraced the light of new politics when they voted overwhelmingly in 2010 for the Partnership to consider alignment with the PNM, the reality of such a coalition with PNM is now becoming evident.      The evidence over the last four is present of never before historical people centered delivery and development of the Partnership government against an almost 30 plus record of governance and historical stewardship of the PNM.    The people of CW should note the exodus of high officials from the ILP and consider the drifting of the party towards the right-winged political ideas and ideals of the PNM, some of which includes poor representation, underdeveloped constituencies and the now ignoring if not outright marginalization of their ground troops.

Third, as the PNM continues its screening process there is much speculation that current representative Nileung Hypolite will be booted for Fitzgerald Hind in Laventille West.     How well with this settle with the party stalwarts is left to be seen?    While some of this is left over party infighting since the internal elections, it shows the overall level of alienation the PNM under the leadership of Dr. Rowley has with the ground troops and base of the Red Army.    The ground troops and base have had little input in the line up so far of those selected to compete for the PNM in 2015 and many are disconnected from the ground.     The type of cloudy headed representation historically given to PNM constituencies is bound to continue.

What does the three points above have to do with the ILP and Oudit’s resignation?

Given that a leopard cannot change its spots, if any attempt at coalition between the PNM and ILP were to be the negotiation process would or should have began.   It is expected that the PNM will contest all 41 seats a national party as have always been the case; but a coalition with the ILP the discussions would have already began, but just how would these discussions go.

After the political bashing and pressure unleashed by the PNM on Mr. Warner, those former Partnership supporters are now weighing the hypocrisy should they join forces with PNM against a government with a track record of delivery under responsive and decisive leadership including firing cabinet members when the public trust was breached.     This is what ILP member must consider and not necessarily Dr. Rowley’s statement, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”  This is has a striking parallel to a woman playing into the hands of a known abuser and falling in love with man who is going to neglect her and the children he fathers with her.   This is representation PNM style.

On the flip side, there was a falling out between the Partnership and the people of CW.    There were differences of opinions and the people choose to exercise their constitutional right an affiliate themselves with a party of their choosing.   However, it appears that things are not panning out as planned and the people are left with two choices, political homelessness or representational abuse.    The PNM’s track record and historical stewardship compounded by the nature of their behavior, especially that of their disconnected leadership is frightening enough to consider the possibility to such a coalition.

While some have returned we must be mindful that PNM is a threat to the future development of Trinidad and Tobago under the leadership of Dr. Rowley.   The party remains visionless and daily it continues to alienate voters.   A leopard cannot changes it spots and perhaps this is revelation that Lyndira Oudit got that make her decide to call it quits as Political Leader of the dismantling Independent Liberal Party.

 

 

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The Political Roundup: Smart Moves, BUT…..

In an effort to keep readers updated and to give you some analysis of the political happenings in Tobago (and Trinidad) last month I began a series entitled The Political Roundup.   The Roundup will continue monthly and will provide a careful analysis on the developments taking place within Tobago and by extension Trinidad.    This will be done in three parts because there is much to address.   

In January in Traffic Light Politics we gave an overview of the interesting 2013 political year.   In early February I wrote, The Political Callaloo of Internal Self-Government, which you might want to read to fully understand what went down in February.   Certainly we should mention with the Carnival season picking up pace till it winds down next week, access of information at times has been limited as media coverage devote a tremendous amount of time to covering the fetes etc.   However, developments are taking place.   

We had a reshuffle of a few THA Secretaries.   This was hailed as a relatively good move, if nothing else, for the stability in Division of Education, Youth Affairs and Sports.   The Division must make a full 180 degree turn and the new Secretary Cadette has supported a collaborative effort with Division of Community Development and Culture to hold a Tobago Music Festival.  In light of the cancellation of the National Music Festival, this was move is thumbs up and an overall good initiative with intentions to expand.    DEYAS must work simultaneously in fixing itself internally and turn towards efforts to support schools.   While we should not give them ‘a bly’ this year, and the exam is not yet written we are awaiting the outcome of SEA exams, which should provide evidence of the type of supports the schools needs to raise student achievement.   

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His Excellency President Anthony Carmona, the Honourable Orville London, Chief Secretary and Councillor Deon Isaac, Secretary Division of Settlement and Labour.

 

The elevation of Councillor Deon Isaac to the Secretary of Division of Settlement and Labour was also a wise decision.    Isaac proved his capacity as an Assistant Secretary in the Office of Chief Secretary and was instrumental in keeping the administration ‘close to the people’ in the spearheading the Public Interest Desk and the Face to Face monthly sessions.   A pragmatic approach towards housing and acceleration on delivery of units or lots to individuals to build their own should the focus of his new portfolio.    Furthermore, in regards to Labour, there should be some public education on the goals and objectives of this department.   Its policy objectives should be oriented towards improving productive outcomes within the THA.  Sounds pragmatic and common sense to me!  

During the month of March we will further explore policy frameworks as it relates to education and levels of productivity within the THA.    The current administration can count these two major moves as steps in the right direction, but when it comes to incomplete project, the grade goes down.   

The Shaw Park Roundabout and the Hospital Laundry are the latest of a string of incomplete and delayed projects.   The library is also delayed.   These are serious problems this administration must tackle with a greater sense of urgency.    If not it will be used against them in the 2015 general election and if there is nothing else this PNM needs more, it is a return of these two seats in the PNM.  That is the most the Tobago Council of the PNM can do to help the PNM take back the government from the ruling People’s Partnership.

In Parts II and III we will address the issue of Constitution Reform, Internal Self Government and the other players on the current political landscape, the TOP, the ILP, and the MDD.   We will also examine the interplay of national politics, the PNM internal elections and the objectives of the government to stay on power.   

The Political Callaloo of ‘Internal-Self-Government’

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Callaloo is a complex dish and there are many variations of this popular Trinibagonian dish.   It probably can be argued that every household has their own special twist on callaloo.   One of the final steps in making callaloo is to put it in the blender and mix it all up.  Cooking callaloo is the backdrop of our discussion today because as the debate over Tobago’s Internal Self-Government continues, it is clear that the process is rather complex, much like the dish of callaloo.   

The Ingredients

  1. The PNM
    1. The Executive Council
    2. The Chief Secretary
    3. The THA
    4. PNM Tobago Council
    5. As the National Opposition
    6. All Others
      1. The TOP
      2. Two Tobago Seats, Tobago East/Tobago West
      3. The Prime Minister
      4. TOP Island Council
      5. The Ministry of Tobago Development (MTD)
      6. The People Partnership (PP)
      7. The Platform for Truth (TPT)
      8. The Movement for Democracy & Development (MDD)
      9. Independent Liberal Party (ILP-Tobago)

With all these players and their relationship, it is no wonder why Internal Self Government for Tobago is a complicated matter.   I will try present an overview of the matter as it relates to the different entities.   Furthermore, it will be analyzed against the backdrop of a pending 2015 general election and the recent reports of the Constitution Commission.     

  1. The PNM as a political party is in government in Tobago but they are the national opposition.  The party rebounded significantly in 2013 with victories in Tobago and St. Joseph including major pickups in the local government elections in Trinidad.   The clean sweep in THA puts the two Tobago seats into play, and if the Tobago Council can deliver this in 2015 it would mean less work for the PNM in Trinidad in those marginal constituencies.     
    1. The Executive Council – Tobago’s steering committee headed by the Chief Secretary and inclusive of other THA Secretaries, whether elected or appointed.  Similar to the cabinet.  
    2. The Chief Secretary (Orville London) – In what appears to be a complete turnaround, he has led the call for Tobago’s autonomy after the 2013 election.   
    3. The THA – The “State” operates under Tobago House of Assembly Act 1996.    The Act does not give Tobago legislative capacity, merely “oversight” capacity.    
    4. PNM Tobago Council – The Tobago arm of the national PNM.  Established in 1998, the PNM made it presence known in Tobago during the first decade of 21st century remaining in control of the THA.
    5. PNM (as the National Opposition) – 2013 was an upward year for the PNM as the National Opposition.   The party has a predominantly African base and shows no intention that it is open to coalition politics, evident by statements such as “we will win alone, we will lose alone.”  How likely it is for the PNM to gain national power depends efforts to rebrand the image of the party as inclusive and that of its current leader who in the words of his former leader “is out of control” and when opposed “becomes like a raging bull.” 

As it relates to the national PNM and Tobago’s Autonomy there is no clear clarion sound.    The Tobago PNM Council, the Executive Council, the Chief Secretary are for self-government in principle, like all other stakeholders who reached that obvious conclusion.    The “how” of self-government is something the party has not clearly articulated and questions are being raised by the other players about their genuine interest in the process and whether or not it’s political gamesmanship for the 2015 general elections? 

  • MDD takes a position that the Chief Secretary is setting up Tobago for a refusal by the Central Government to move the process forward so that he can go to Tobagonians in 2015 to say that the Central Government doesn’t want to give Tobago full autonomy. He is of the belief that Tobagonians will then vote the PNM back into power in Tobago. Full autonomy for Tobago is a no-no from the PNM, Rowley or whoever else is in charge; so Tobagonians need to tell the Chief Secretary in no uncertain terms to stop trying to fool Tobagonians yet again. Today, even the Central Government has realized the monster that has been created in the THA and the Chief Secretary. A dictatorship of the highest order in Tobago. (MDD, from a recent column in Tobago News)
  • “The PNM had said that they will not participate, as much as I would like to see Tobago achieve internal self-governance, my question is exactly what is expected. My only fear is that sometimes I wonder if this isn’t a ploy to get something to speak about for the elections of 2015, that’s my only concern,” says Jack. (Ashworth Jack, TOP Political Leader)

Part II – The Ingredients Continued

  1. All Others 
    1. The TOP – After suffering a humiliating defeat at in 2013 THA polls, the TOP current claim as political force was secured in its 2010 victory of the two Tobago seats in the national parliament.   A partner in the PP government, Tobago is allowed a voice at the cabinet level through the establishment of the Ministry of Tobago Development.
    2. Two Tobago Seats, Tobago East/Tobago West – These two seats in the past have proven to be the makers and breakers of government.    The Tobago electorate is one that gets vex quickly and no part should take these seats for granted.    The TOP will do its utmost best to keep these seats and the PNM will work extra hard to gain control of these two seats.    From the looks of it, the 2015 general election might be a three way race, should the ILP field candidates. 
    3. The Prime Minister – PM Kamla Persad-Bissessar has Tobago on a political time out but this might be all part strategy.  She is aware of the need for those two Tobago seats not necessarily to remain in government, but as a watchdog if nothing else on the Assembly.   She has others to do her bidding in Tobago and National Constitution Reform by no means is higher on her agenda.  
    4. TOP Island Council – A council in chaos.   The Council must resolve it leadership crisis or be outplayed by the ILP, to the liking of the PNM.  Political Leader Ashworth Jack is facing a battle within the party from an internal pressure group, Forward Movement.   At the helm of this charge is Dr. Baker, Anslem Richards, along with the support of the former Minister of Justice Christlyn Moore.  The TOP has to worry about the split vote factor with the presence of the ILP because the core of ILP supporters in Tobago are former TOP members/voters.  
    5. The Ministry of Tobago Development (MTD) – The successor of the once Ministry of Tobago Affairs (that was shut down by Eric Williams). The MTD led by Dr. Baker is the presence of the Central Government in Tobago.  Deemed obstructionist by the THA, there is constant turf battles between both entities.    Should the PNM win at the polls in 2015, the life of MTD is jeopardy whereby the plug is more than likely to be pulled by Rowley.   MTD however has sought to define itself, namely pushing for Integrated Campus in Tobago East and making available resources to community based organizations bringing the resources of the central government directly to Tobago.  
    6. The People Partnership (PP) — The current government, and unlike the PNM has embraced coalition politics, comprising of several parties, inclusive of the UNC, COP, the TOP and NJAC.  On its 4th year in power, 2013 saw a string of defeats of partnership along with a variety of issues that have plagued the government since its inception.    The party maintains its regional ethnic Indian base in south-central Trinidad but if one should trace the historically underpinnings and beginnings, even under the leadership of Basdeo Panday in the 1970’s (as Opposition Leader to Eric Williams) in a former incarnation as the United Labour Front, there were efforts to unite the races in the form of a “workers struggle.”  When asked if sugar (Indian) and oil (black) can mix, Panday said yes, “it makes sweet oil.”       
    7. The Platform for Truth (TPT) – Under of the leadership of former Chief Secretary Hochoy Charles, the party claims to be the only authentic Tobago party.   A breakaway from the TOP, Charles is an unrepentant advocate for Tobago’s autonomy and despite little chances of future political success; the TPT seeks to remain relevant in ongoing debates about Tobago’s future.        
    8. The Movement for Democracy & Development (MDD) — The MDD has positioned itself in the politics as an “intellectual” movement.    Though they fielded no candidates in the 2013 THA Elections, they campaigned against the Tobago Bill piloted by the Prime Minster, especially for more nautical miles.  The evangelist of this movement, Dr. Vanus James estimated the GDP of Tobago to be TTD $17 Billion by 2017 should oil and natural gas be exploited off Tobago’s coast.  According to the MDD  “MDD believes that the most pressing problem facing Tobago is the lack of a mechanism to provide oversight by the residents of Tobago to control the Chief Secretary’s actions so that when the executive acts, it does so in accordance with the will of the people of Tobago” (From MDD Column in Tobago News).  
    9. Independent Liberal Party (ILP-Tobago) – Simply put it, the ILP wants in.    Despite being less than one year, the ILP gained one seat in the Parliament.   Jack Warner left government, went back to the polls, amidst corruption allegations and this early success the party is seeking to emerge as the “third force” to replace to COP.    The ILP fever spread to Tobago and Lionel Coker’s departure from the TOP sought to seek new political grazing grounds.  All indications show that the ILP is preparing for electoral runs in Tobago.  Recent meetings in Tobago with Warner at the helm, the appointment of Shadow THA Secretaries and calls to be included in the self-government talks are no doubts that the ILP wants in.  Warner recently accused both the THA and the PP government for “gang raping” the treasury.   

 

The fact of the matter is Internal Self Government is a highly complicated matter.   While there are calls for a “One Voice Tobago Approach” the web of alliances and future political gains or losses for all involved makes its worse than putting callaloo in a blender.