I know I have a strong stomach. In my almost five decades as an adult, I have attended countless political meetings and have never once, as far as I remember, thrown up.
I almost did this morning.
Had I already broken my fast when I saw ‘50,000 NEW JOBS’ sprawled across the top of yesterday’s Express front page, I feel certain my breakfast would immediately have come rushing back into and out of my mouth.
The headline instantly put me in mind of a sentence I had read in Sunday’s Daly Bread column here on Wired868.
“I have repeatedly asserted,” Martin Daly wrote, “that the fundamental and unchanging practice of our politics is the persistent electoral battle to gain access to and control of the national cash register and the state enterprise sector.”
How true! Daly didn’t say it but he might have added ‘by any means necessary.’
Ask i95.5fm. What was on offer on that station during its Morning Show programme was a persistent reminder of the now time-worn phrase from Jean-Paul Sartre’s Les mains sales.
As if by accident, in the i95.5fm studio on the morning after the night before Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s new jobs announcement, was former would-be UNC political leader Vasant ‘Water-more-than-rice’ Bharath. He had come to reveal the formation of a new political grouping, Citizens’ Assembly. He told listening T&T that its members included old, familiar names like Stephen Cadiz and high-profile ex-PNMite, Louis Lee Sing. Their campaign of public education sessions, Bharath further revealed, ‘will start in the marginal constituencies.’
Oh? Yuh don’t say!
When asked, Bharath admitted that he remained a card-carrying member of the UNC. That, let us not forget, is the party which, in any general election, can campaign seriously or just twiddle their thumbs, jump high or jump low, lie, tief and stab would-be candidates in the back and still win 15 of the 39 Trinidad seats hands down.
Do the math. There are seven so-called ‘marginal constituencies.’ Pluck a few hundred, a couple thousand feathers from PNM wings in the marginals and hey presto, what have we here?
Later, Lee Sing called in ‘to represent the Citizens’ Assembly.’ The chance telephone call—or so we are supposed to believe it was— began with a long, uninterrupted opening statement. This was followed by an even longer interview of the former i95.5fm boss by his two deferential, not to say obsequious, former employees. More than half a dozen times, the lips of Tony Lee and Dale Enoch parted to allow ‘Mr Lee Sing’ to roll off their tongue.
As my late mother would repeatedly warn, it’s not what you say but how you say it.
Earlier on, Enoch had been bellyaching about the parlous state of national politics and refusing even to consider voting for either of the two major parties. Lee had sought—in vain—to get him to see the obvious point that not to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea is in fact to make a choice anyway.
And, ‘holding my nose,’ Enoch had shared with the i95.5fm listenership his musical choice for the morning, Gypsy’s 2019 Calypso Monarch Finals offering, ‘When elephants fight.’
“This govament blame the last govament,” the lyrics say, presumably to Enoch’s great satisfaction, since I think he thinks they bring great grist to his none-of-the-above mill, “and then the last govament blame the one before. And then the next govament going to blame this govament and so the cycle continue on and on once more…”
Full disclosure: I was a committed, practised None-of-the-Aboveist. In the 1976 elections, given my first opportunity to exercise my civic right—it is NOT a civic responsibility—I voted for the candidate of my choice in Tunapuna. Whenever I voted in any of the nine subsequent general elections before 2015, dissatisfied with what was on offer, I registered a vote for every candidate listed on the ballot paper.
But after the collective experience of 2010-2015, I am very certain that such noneoftheaboveism is NOT an option we can afford.
Mind you, I hold no brief for Dr Keith Rowley and his bunch of bunglers. The most cursory examination of the events of the last four years, even prior to the closure of Petrotrin, I submit, will show that we have been pretty badly served.
However, I am quite convinced that the People’s Partnership Regime that was deservedly rejected by the country in 2015 is easily the worst government T&T has ever had; in the finish line photo of that race, no other administration is even in the frame!
Not the cowering, pusillanimous ‘All ah we tief’ group that allowed Williams to walk all over them, not George ‘Duncy’ Chambers’ cabinet of innocents whom the country unceremoniously consigned to the dung heap of history, not Basdeo Panday’s rapacious ‘Is Indian time now’ troops nor Patrick Manning’s ‘collateral damage’ foot soldiers.
In government, KPB’s UNC redefined service as self-service. For them, politics was always preceded by the verb ‘play,’ an expression the ODE defines as to ‘act for political or personal gain rather than from principle.’
In opposition, they continuously give meaning and substance to their erstwhile political leader Panday’s assertion that it is not the responsibility of the opposition to make the government look good. They remain obsessed with electoral politics and their current political leader, she of the reckless 50,000 new jobs promise, signs off virtually every speech, no matter what the occasion being marked, with ‘and call elections now.’
“Once the electoral battle is won,” Daly comments in closing, “the winner takes care of its party financiers, faithful supporters, sycophants and those trading on tribal affiliation. This practice will continue whether we put the PNM or the UNC in power.”
Daly, Dale, doesn’t dare say it but, like much of the education in this country, it’s merely a matter of degree(s).
So we would all be well advised to choose the lesser of the two evils lest our default lets the greater one sneak in the back door…with a little help from their friends!
And then we have to hold we nose and throw up fuh a nex’ five years.
Editor’s Note: Click HERE for a rebuttal from former journalist Siewdath Persad who tries to explain why Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar can deliver her promised 50,000 jobs.