Ring the bell.

Well our illustrious emperor..oops..Prime Minister has finally announced the election date…and it is…Guy Fawkes Day..November the fifth. I shall have to remember to leave my barrels of gunpowder at home that day as I am sure they will be checking trunks. I must say it seems rather an insensitive choice and not simply because of the historical reference to the events of 1605. The Hindu community celebrates Divali on November the ninth and this usually involves much in the way of preparations as well as fasting. Now, I realize Hindus are not likely to impact too much on Patrick’s political  bottom line and his personal beliefs are in quite another direction, but a bit more thoughtfulness might have been in order. When I was guessing the election date I was thinking the second week of November as I thought nobody would be so crass as to do it during the week of Divali…silly me…I forgot who I was dealing with. Ah well, at least it was a good day for news and the staff were happy.

I seem to have known instinctively about today’s announcement as I mentioned yesterday I might touch ( ever so lightly) on politics. I have to tread carefully here for obvious reasons. Let me preface my quick look at politics here by noting I generally regard T&T politicians as a life form just slightly higher than pond scum on the evolutionary scale. This view is based mainly on the national experience that many of them are thieving ne’er-do-wells. I will admit there are some bright spots on the blackened banana that is politics in this country and they give me some faint hope for the future. There are three main parties in Trinidad & Tobago..the rest of the parties could probably hold their national conferences together in a phone booth. There must be some tax concession for starting a party because I see no point in any of the smaller ones. Let’s look at the sorry mess that litters the landscape of this blessed land.

The People’s National Movement ( PNM) was founded by Dr. Eric Williams ( the actual father of the nation) and brought the country from colonialism to republic status. Most of modern T&T was created by the PNM by default because it held power for 30 years starting in 1956 and has only lost two elections to date. The PNM is largely, but  not exclusively, supported by people of African descent. Today the PNM is the ruling party and has come under the gun for several things most notably spending like a lottery winner on crystal meth. The other problem is its Political Leader and our current Prime Minister, Patrick Manning. Patos..as he is frequently called…has developed some rather peculiar tendencies over the years not the least of which are his seeming delusions of grandeur. He has torn down the traditional PM’s residence and built a multi-million dollar pile ( discussed previously), he is pushing to be an executive president and he appointed his wife as Minister of Education. There is also the matter of several of his MPs being embroiled in legal matters that are still before the courts. He is also currently doing a bit of house cleaning and seems to be guiding the selection of candidates for the coming elections to omit many sitting MPs..who knows what lurks in the mind of Patos. His party is often seen in parliament railing against the UNC for their record of corruption…an irony that is seemingly lost on them. Oh..did I mention that Patos also has a personal seer and believes in that white-suited charlatan  Benny Hinn? I think that scares me the most. I wish I was making this up.

The UNC and their new bastard child the UNC Alliance is predominantly the party supported by those of East Indian descent. It comes out of a long history of opposition parties that includes the DLP and  the ULF and has its roots in the sugar unions. They held power 1.5 times. Once, in a coalition called the NAR and again on their own. Under their watchful eye we got a new and collapsing airport and more corruption trials than we can count. The party is still led by Basdeo Panday who is , at the very least, charismatic. He has no seat in parliament because of a little corruption trial problem but he now sports a red beret on the hustings which makes perfect sense…just not to me. The party is currently led by either an executive committee or a cabal depending on who you believe. As a result of the latter, many members left the UNC to form a new party – the COP. In response to this defection the UNC powers joined  with an alphabet soup of small parties ( with..I believe..a total of 60 members) to form the UNC Alliance. This new “force” is 99% controlled by the UNC but is, as far as I know, a separate organization.

Our last contender is the one year old Congress of the People, the COP. It is all too complicated for me to express in a short piece but I will try. Winston Dookeran was a former governor of the Central Bank who is, I have been told, widely respected. He is famous for his creative pronunciation of English words, being regarded as squeaky clean, having white hair, bobbing his head for no apparent reason and believing in consultation on everything. He entered the UNC by invitation and was then treated like Sammy Davis Jr. at a KKK meeting. Peeved by his inability to get anywhere in the UNC he formed his own party and pulled quite a few UNC members in the process. I have no idea what constituency they hold but they are painting themselves as the “new politics” which means nothing to me..but seems to be their mantra. They seem to be pulling a mixed  membership – which is unusual in T&T politics – but I have no idea how deep their support goes. As a lover of the English language, however, the performance of their leader leaves me cold. The thought of him speaking on behalf of the country at the UN or elsewhere would be an embarrassment that would leave me hiding under a truckload of laundry. He may have integrity , as they claim, but having no track record under his belt it is easy to seem perfect. I just wish he could make a definitive statement on anything without checking with half of the population.

I know this was a rather long blog but I may not be able to blog tomorrow..so I am making up.

Happy Guy Fawkes Day!!!!!



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