There were some enjoyable electoral cut tails on Monday last. Send me your favourite. Mine is Garvin Nicholas.
Tell me too who or what is the new Government’s biggest problem after Jwala Rambarran, sitting like a Reshmi in the Central Bank.
Following the 23-18 outcome of the general election in favour of the PNM against the UNC, thinly disguised as a partnership, I declare some other winners and losers.
First and foremost our country was a winner. Trinidad and Tobago has again risen to the big occasion of conducting general elections efficiently and changing a government peacefully.
Sadly, a bunch of sore losers began to attach the label “minority Government” to the new Government which has a clear Parliamentary majority and is not dependent on the support of any other party either to form a Government or to pass simple majority legislation.
These persons are purveying the phrase in order to suggest that a Government that does have a clear majority of its own in the House of Representatives may lack some degree of legitimacy because it may not have won a majority of the total nationwide votes. It has since turned out that the PNM has the majority of the total votes.
A genuine example of a minority government can be found in our recent history. Such a Government arose out of the 17-17-2 situation, which was the result of the 1995 election. On that occasion the UNC 17 was dependent on the 2 NAR Tobago seats to form the Government.
The current result of 23-18 is quite different.
I make this point because labelling the newly elected Government as a “minority Government” was a backhanded way of suggesting that the result of Monday’s General Election should not be accepted. Such a backhanded suggestion is sour grapes and not consistent with our enviable track record of graceful transitions from one elected Government to another.
Shamfa Cudjoe, now MP for Tobago West, is a huge winner.
Having been an effective Opposition member in the last Senate, she matured into a formidable public speaker during the course of the just completed camp. Her distinctive style may not be to the taste of some purists but she delivered unforgettable lines with searing self-confidence and had crowds cheering on her side without needing to deploy mauvais langue. She is a rising star.
The top loser was Vernella Alleyne Toppin, who flung the first dung of the campaign, even before the so-called silly season officially opened. I have already condemned her attack on Dr Rowley and the abject weakness of the then Speaker, Mr Wade Mark, who permitted it to run uninterrupted.
A collateral benefit of Shamfa Cudjoe’s sterling performance is that it diluted the shame that Vernella Alleyne Toppin left on Tobago’s face.
Another loser was the COP. I have dealt with those castrati, but at least Prakash Ramadhar had the guts to keep on his white jersey and offer himself as a COP candidate unlike Bhoe Tewarie, whose apparent insecurity caused him to take off his white jersey and put on the yellow jersey of the UNC.
Of course it is possible that Tewarie’s change of colour was more than insecurity. Perhaps he is positioning himself in case the UNC has a “night of the long knives”, an expression made famous when a British Conservative Prime Minister carried out a brutal cabinet reshuffle involving seven ministers.
Now that Kamla has lost her aura of invincibility, several fallen Partnership ministers may have their eyes on her throne and the machinations to overthrow her may be equally brutal.
NOTA, that is, the wish to put None Of The Above as an option on the ballot paper, was also a loser because it was impossible to separate the messenger from the message.
Credibility was severely stretched when former Senate President Timothy Hamel Smith, who had enjoyed the highest benefits of the existing system, then attacked it.
Hamel-Smith had tried to be a third force after the former Prime Minister fired him. The Third Force immediately melted like shave ice in the sun and the NOTA media frolic followed the immediate melting of the Third Force.
I suspect that all of this was an attempt to put off the betrayed COP adherents from taking their votes to the PNM.
Let’s not forget the collapsed Debates Commission and the pollsters (Bertrand excepted) among the losers. Some pollsters may receive attention soon regarding the interests they may need to declare.
Last but by no means least, in the immediate aftermath of the election, the office of the President let the country down by botching the swearing in of the new Attorney General and the new Minister of National Security by the President, when the President administered their oaths before that of the new Prime Minister.
“Sequential error” would better describe the months for which the controversial housing allowance was paid. Is it still being paid?