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Retreat of the MSJ
Is the roof caving in on the People’s Partnership (PP) with the withdrawal of the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) from the coalition government? The People’s National Movement and other PP detractors would answer a resounding yes. But as I always say, if we should take an objective look at the situation we cannot help but conclude that the only benefit the MSJ would derive from this move is propaganda value.
The PP will in no way be significantly affected and given our ten-day mentality the departure would soon be vacated from our collective memory with only the MSJ leaders trying to keep their party on the national front burner, by no doubt throwing pot shots at their former political colleagues. But this is the big mistake David Abdulah and his team will be making—attempting to turn their relatively new entity into a political force to be reckoned with.
In terms of numbers (yes, numbers are an important ingredient in any political organisation, despite what some armchair politicians may want to argue), nobody can accurately say how strong their following is. But it is reasonable to assume that because of its genesis—the labour movement—this would be minuscule when compared to the other main political parties and it would be a miracle of miracles if this number can suddenly rise to give the others a run for their money.
Why it would be difficult for the MSJ to make any strong and convincing impression to cause followers of the PNM, UNC, COP, or none of the above, to run to them in their numbers is that their ideology is not shared by the majority of the electorate. If for this reason alone, it is surprising that the MSJ remained so long in the coalition and as Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar said, David remained trapped in isolationist thinking.
The idea of bringing the five parties together was a wonderful experiment but unfortunately the MSJ, being born out of the trade union movement which has always had an adversarial relationship with the business sector and successive governments, could not run the full course. There were bound to be ideological clashes.
So it was not surprising that David, who obviously cannot get rid of his trade union DNA, began sniping publicly to express his disappointment with the PP’s style of governance, which is diametrically opposed to that of the labour movement. Former OWTU president general Errol Mc Leod, a no-nonsense man, now Minister of Labour, has shown he could rise to the occasion and make his contribution to nation building and is not running because the going is really tough at this time.
I also have some problems with the concerns of Abdulah, which he says caused him and his crew to jump the PP ship. He has to explain what is meant by establishing “a policy position to stop the use of force by the police (government), moves to stop the legitimate and peaceful activities of civil society, including pro-test action by workers and rights of the media.”
These “concerns” are so laughable I could die doing so. Violent crime is virtually killing the soul of the nation and here you have an aspiring leader of the country wanting to take away a perfectly acceptable and long established aspect of police conduct in the execution (sorry, no pun intended) of their day-to-day duties. This is not to say I condone the unlawful killing or beating up of apparently innocent citizens in some instances.
But why would you want to take away the use of force when and where applicable? Where is the evidence to support the other two allegations? The media are a very proactive and dynamic sector in T&T, with the Government getting licks left, right and centre, just like the Manning administration received, particularly during its dying months.
As a media practitioner for the past 49 years, all but three of them as a writer, I would be the first to cry media suppression from any quarter including the State, and unless one has an obvious political agenda no one can properly accuse this PP regime of intimidating, suppressing or otherwise interfering with the free operations of the media.
One good example of this Government’s respect for media freedom was when, one day last week, the Prime Minister herself called in on a television station talk show to correct what she deemed to be misinformation by a caller. Unlike the case when a certain prime minister not too long ago barged into a radio station and did you know what.
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