Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / Kangalee: Dr Rowley’s bluff has failed, and he’s struggling to hold off dissent in his own party

Kangalee: Dr Rowley’s bluff has failed, and he’s struggling to hold off dissent in his own party

“[…] Pushing his deadline back to 17 February in the hope that his under-fire Attorney General comes up with some legislative arrangement that could pass muster won’t change the price of coconut water. It gives the forces opposed to his policy more time to mobilise.  

“[…] Most importantly, though, Dr Keith Rowley is under pressure from the ‘PNM Massive’, whose loyalty is not to Rowley, the individual, but to the leader… once he delivers the goods—as the late Patrick Manning learned to his cost…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the current leadership of Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was submitted to Wired868 by Gerry Kangalee, education and research officer of the National Workers Union (NWU):

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
(Office of the Prime Minster)

Dr Keith Rowley is finished. His bluff has been called and he had nothing in his hand.

He knew that his deadline of 17 January wasn’t achievable, but he hoped that, like Sparrow’s Dr Eric Williams, his word was law. Alas, this isn’t the early Sixties and he ent no Eric Williams. He thought that when the overseer barked the pyongs would chant, ‘Yes, boss’. Hard luck with that!

Pushing his deadline back to 17 February in the hope that his under-fire Attorney General comes up with some legislative arrangement that could pass muster won’t change the price of coconut water. It gives the forces opposed to his policy more time to mobilise.  

He has all but admitted that he has nothing left to offer except flying on the wings of hope and prayer, while the world moves on to inevitable endemic status for Covid-19.

The unleashing of the Guard and Emergency squad on peaceful protestors has only made matters worse and has actually exposed the weakened state of his administration. If you can’t convince them with the strength of your argument, then you convince them with the argument of your strength. And the strength of the state, in the final analysis, is its ability to use armed force.  

Photo: Police officers ready tear gas canisters as they prepare to attempt to break up a protest at the Queen’s Park Savannah on 16 January 2022.

(Editor’s note: Neither the prime minister nor the minister of national security has the authority to direct the commissioner of police to conduct a police exercise; and there is no proof that the aforementioned response of the TTPS was dictated by politicians.)

Rowley should remember that the strength of the organised working class is its power over production.

In his presentation on Saturday 15 January, he pleaded that the government did the best it could. There is no reason to doubt that it did, but its best is clearly not good enough. 

He says that we get the best healthcare; yet he appoints a five-person investigative committee to discover what is wrong and to report their findings in one week. Come on! 

The buckling of the healthcare system has its genesis long before the pandemic and is only being brought into sharp relief now. Everyone who uses the public health system is quite aware of the problems. 

Photo: The Port-of-Spain General Hospital.
(Courtesy nwrha.co.tt)

They live through them every day: short staffing, shortage of equipment, administrative incompetence, abominable industrial relations, political nepotism (the norm in state agencies and enterprises), the use of the public health system by the medical mafia as gathering stations for the private health system… we could go on and on.

For those who do not make use of the public health system, the problems have been stated over and over in the numerous reports made by committees over the years, the last one being the report submitted by the Welch Committee.

Rowley is under pressure. The economic pie is shrinking rapidly and the various elite cliques are determined to hold on to their piece, which causes instability and vicious inter-clique struggles. 

Even the one-percenters, whose faithful watchman he has been for years, are sniffing the breeze and searching for a new gatekeeper.

He is under pressure from organised and unorganised sections of the population, including the organised working class which is mobilising itself despite its weak leadership.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (left) and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi.
(Copyright Office of the Attorney General)

Most importantly, though, he is under pressure from the ‘PNM Massive’, whose loyalty is not to Rowley, the individual, but to the leader… once he delivers the goods—as the late Patrick Manning learned to his cost. 

There is growing dissatisfaction with Rowley’s leadership at the PNM ground level as it becomes clearer that their interests are subordinate to those of the one percent, when it comes to government policy. In some areas, there is growing rebellion within the ruling party which has triggered witch hunts against disgruntled activists, those who bring out the votes. 

There is jockeying for advantage within the party bureaucracy as they smell blood and look to a post-Rowley era. And as the patronage gravy train dries up, the feeding frenzy at the hog trough of public funds becomes more vicious.

While Rowley fights hard to hold on to his leadership, that battle is taking place against a background of a collapsing economy, growing unemployment, increasing violence and deepening hunger. 

Fasten your seat belts. We are in for a rough ride.

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