My name is Kevin Baldeosingh and I’m probably Trinidad & Tobago’s best known atheist.
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Evolving politics driven by people
After the public blustering (filled with racist and dishonest clamourings) is done with, the Prime Minister and her Cabinet should seriously contemplate the position reached by the People’s Partnership Government a mere two and a half years since sweeping the polls 29 to 12.
The political hunter has become the hunted. The opposition People’s National Movement (PNM), squandered and disgraced at the May 2010 polls, has been stimulated to new life. Core elements of the trade union movement, which supported the hunter in 2010, are mobilising against the Government it helped to install in office.
Several civic groups have joined the cause against what they perceive to be entrenched corruption, at best incompetence, in Government and carried out with arrogance.
Among the groups were several individuals who would not normally be on the same political street with the PNM, maybe a different form of coalition politics is emerging here which makes nonsense of traditional party politics. It could be a politics in which people would be directly involved to advance the national interest over narrow party lines and affiliation.
To a first-hand observer in the march through the streets and the rally on the Brian Lara Promenade, the PNMism of the Williams/Manning brand seemed muted. This evolving politics driven by people makes the hypocritical and frenzied screams of those in office that the march was “political” seem comical. Their feeble non-discerning protests transform them into political dinosaurs incapable of seeing an evolving people’s politics.
Sure, the agitation and mobilisation are political, what else can they be if they are directed at the political actions of the Prime Minister and her Government? And why should they not be political? When the groups that signed the agreement at the historic Fyzabad meeting were agitating and mobilising, was that not political action?
But the attempt to deligitimise political action is part of the racist dishonesty mentioned above and people from all political persuasions should not be distracted by it. Politics and political action control the power of the State and people have for too long left politics in the hands of party politicians who define what politics should be about and how political action should be taken.
As last week’s column illustrated, the political troubles of the Government are of its own making. At the party level, the parties have failed to fulfil the requirement of the Fyzabad Accord “to develop a common policy platform…and to establish mechanisms for the achievement of consensus.”
Those who argued that the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) was insignificant and its departure from the coalition would have no consequence for the PP must contemplate again the role being played by the MSJ in mobilisation against the Government.
The Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) is holding fast to the UNC element of the Government to fire off a volley of corruption allegations against the incumbent in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) and to provide the TOP with resources for the campaign. If the TOP does not capture the elections, it would be without value to the PP Government.
The National Joint Action Committee (NJAC) has taken to “eating ah food” inside Government, its voice of 1970 long strangled. Former chairman of the Congress of the People (COP) Joseph Toney was right in saying that he lost in the party polls because he was seen as reaching out to take hold of the poisoned chalice of a politically-induced brief.
And that really is the comment of the membership of the COP, they perceive their party as having exchanged its political gravitas to be the moral guiding tone of the coalition for ministerial positions and the benefits of being close to the seat of state power which distributes benefits to the accommodating.
The situation of the PP Government is not hopeless but very complicated and difficult to retrieve. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and her Cabinet have to first overcome the psychological trauma of denial that there is a legitimate threat.
In Freudian psychoanalysis, denial is identified as attempts by the immature mind to manipulate, deny and distort reality. If allowed to fester, denial becomes pathological and leads to what is called “maladaptive behaviours.” One example of the denial is the insistence that the Section 34 fiasco has been paid for with the political scalp of Herbert Volney and it is time to “move on.”
Even if Section 34 is replaced by another disaster, as it seems sure to be given the Government’s disposition to fall on its sword, what is not understood is that the Reshmi affair, Section 34 and others have seriously undermined the credibility of the Government and that erosion has weakened the foundation of the Government.
Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar has to come forward and demonstrate leadership. Hiding behind Jack Warner’s blustering and attempts at manipulation severely erodes her value as a leader. Leaders become beholden to those they depend on to front for them; they are trapped by their political surrogates who make themselves indispensable. In such circumstances the political muscles of the leader become flabby and ineffectual.