This column predicted the politics of Trinidad and Tobago would undergo major changes when the Peoples Partnership government took over the reins of government. Now that the change is happening, it appears that even some within the Partnership cannot come to terms with the changing politics of our time.
The introduction of one person, one vote by the UNC to select their Party leaders is one such progressive change. In the past, the PNM was content on using a delegate system which could be manipulated to choose their leaders. The fact that they still use that system means they are still stuck in the past.
During the recent UNC internal elections, we saw different slates of candidates debating and putting forward their ideas for the direction of the Party.
It was the freedom of expression of the various contenders which showed the UNC-style of democracy at work. The move by San Fernando Mayor to switch allegiance from the COP to the UNC seemed to irk some COP leaders and the reaction from the COP chairman Joseph Toney showed him up as one of those in the Partnership who still does not know "what time of the day it is", in terms of the changing political times in Trinidad and Tobago.
The politics of our time is very dynamic and the old time PNM concept that one must belong to a Party until "ah dead" will not hold much water for many who want to make a contribution to the politics of the nation. The political reality in Trinidad and Tobago is that it is the UNC which has mass political support and an expanding base. The UNC once it stays united can win an election on its own. However, such a victory will not reflect a sense of national diversity. At the same time, the COP cannot and may never be able to win a national election on its own. In fact the political demographics have changed to the extent that even the PNM cannot win a general election on its own in this country once the UNC remains united.
The truth is that the Joseph Toney's, Rawle Raphael's, Robert Mayer's and BasdeoPanday's re spent political forces in the context of the new political dynamics in Trinidad. Within the COP it is the brash, bright and 'no holds bar' Anil Roberts who seems most prepared to 'Seize the time'. On the other hand, the David Abdulah-led MSJ could never hope to gain any genuine mass political support from trade union members, our political history has shown that while union members may support their unions in labour-related matters, when it comes to support in a labour-led political Party, the result has been very dismal indeed. In 1966, for example the labour-led Workers and Farmers Party with such stalwarts as George Weekes, Clive Phil, Basdeo Panday and Stephen Maharaj contested the 1966 election and lost their deposits. So the Abdulah and Ancil Roget should remember that "those who forget their past is doomed to relive it."
Therefore, it is essential for the TOP leader Ashworth Jack to consider carefully what statement he issues on the going-ons in Trinidad politics. Jack must now be taking interest in what is happening in the politics of Tobago. At present, the TOP leader must recognise that the gains his Party has made in the last THA and general elections are the envy of some who were once his allies. Hochoy Charles for example who walked away from the contest for the TOP leadership has been a continuous critic of his once political buddy.
Charles still appears to harbour thoughts on regaining the position of THA Chief Secretary. However, the bitter truth which Hochoy's Platform of Truth must assimilate is that the politics of the day has gone past his 'stuck in time' rhetoric.
Then there is now a group of politically-beaten academics who are attempting to form a political Party mere months before an election to grab power in the THA. Now, this is what can be termed "disrespect" to the people of Tobago. Clearly, Deborah Moore-Miggins and Dr. Hughvaughn Des Vignes cannot be serious by coming to patch-up a political Party in an election year and hope they can confuse the minds of Tobagonians and get their votes. Frankly, I believe that this group of power-seeking individuals are under-estimating the intelligence of the average Tobagonian.
If we are to learn anything from our past political history, we could expect this group to disintegrate as soon as their deposits are lost at the polls. Make no mistake about it; PNM Tobago leader Orville London will be licking his fingers, knowing that the Charles and Miggins groups will be like a blessing in disguise for the PNM THA election fortunes.
Certainly, the Charles and Miggins entrance into the THA election will only help Mr. London and the PNM. This means that the TOP and their 'soldiers' will have to step-up if they are to come out on top.
Opoku Ware is
a freelance writer