The new Government deserves time to settle in. Dr Keith Rowley is a first time Prime Minister, he is leading a team of wide-eyed inexperience and it has been a long, tense campaign getting here; we are all tired and bruised.
Alas, after eight years of Patrick Manning and Company followed by five years of Kamla Persad-Bissessar and Company, I have no patience left to offer. So I signal here, in this first post-election column, that I have started to watch the new administration with eagle eyes and will move with the swiftness of a hummingbird to denounce any act or word that is off kilter.
I have no more ‘blighs’ to offer any government.
The People’s National Movement (PNM) is a known quantity and some of what citizens know they hope never to see evidence of again. Under the political leadership of Dr Rowley, the party has demonstrated willingness to change but change at the centre does not automatically or immediately translate into change throughout.
So I wait to see evidence that the majority of the “Red Army” has drunk from the same fountain of progress.
In its recent occupation of the corridors of power, arrogance found a flag bearer in Colm Imbert. So well known is Imbert’s condescension that the media fraternity, Imbert’s most frequent target, must have released a collective sigh at the new reality: Oh gorm! Him again, bwoy! Wayyyy!
I expect he will continue to be himself—a competent parliamentarian and a formidable debater with a dismissive attitude. But there is one thing that must change.
Imbert sat in a Cabinet with Manning and was among the many PNM Cabinet members and parliamentarians who said not a word to limit the illusions of their leader. Maximum power was allowed to run uninterrupted to the detriment of country and party. I have not forgotten Imbert’s role in feeding the Manning illusion.
When Manning fired the current Prime Minister, Imbert had nothing contrary to say. Instead, he aided and abetted Manning’s demonisation of Dr Rowley in his testimony before the Uff Commission of Inquiry on the Cleaver Heights project.
I hope he has learned as I hope Dr Rowley has forgiven but not forgotten.
Camille Robinson-Regis, I suspect, will have the Prime Minister’s ear. When Penelope Beckles was removed from the Senate where she served as leader of the Opposition’s senators, Dr Rowley replaced her with Robinson-Regis and not Faris Al-Rawi.
It was not long after that Robinson-Regis delivered her “rat” vitriol directed at those of us who opposed the generous increases to parliamentarians that accompanied pension increases to retired judges.
Forced by public opinion to apologise, Robinson-Regis engaged in a performance of back-handed contrition. Shrill with a tendency to reach for the lowest denominator to make her points, Robinson-Regis is a known quantity: Oh gorm! She again, bwoy! Wayyy!
Marlene McDonald, who is immortalised in Parliament TV footage for desk-thumping as Manning delivered his broadside against Dr Rowley, facilitator of the worst version of the draft national gender policy and philosophically backward-looking on all major contentious issues, is again in the Government:
Oh gorm! She again, bwoy! Wayyy!
I fear for the fate of the gender policy under this administration as I feared for it under the past three. Parliamentary debate on the Adoption of Children Act (2015) in March this year put on exhibition women parliamentarians of both the UNC and PNM; it turned out to national unity superfluity.
Given that debate, Robinson-Regis’ abortion swipe on the platform, the absence of focus on family violence and the large number of children-need-licks references, a few from the current Prime Minister himself, I fear the country will be led backwards on some of these issues.
So I watch.
I watch to see whether this Attorney General will be any less verbose than Anand Ramlogan. Good looks and an athlete’s body played well during the campaign but now what is on the inside of that coveted physique is where my scrutiny is directed.
Thus far, the Prime Minister, like those before him, has been making the right noises about ethnic harmony. But he is right; the proof of the matter will be the living, not the wedding.
I wait to see how the Government executes that vision of Indian/African trust. Trinidad and Tobago is being torn apart by ethnic mistrust and suspicion. Rather than getting better, relations are deteriorating and the Prime Minister must make enough room for his own thoughts to acknowledge that, while budget preparations are pressing on his agenda, the vote has been taken, an election has been won and his Government installed, the bitterness and resentment aroused have not gone back to sleep.
Somebody needs to soothe it and soon.