Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 24th 2013 Contents B9
Thursday, October 24, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
"So what did you make of it?" a colleague
asked me once the dust had settled on local
election day, "now you ve seen us at our
worst..." I had to give her my honest answer.
Not a lot.
The day before the election I shared on
Facebook the Basdeo Panday statement, that
he was refusing to vote for the first time since
1965. I called it "huge." I stand by that, even
if his intentions themselves may have been
Whether Panday s comments influenced
the electorate or whether he presciently antic-
ipated a low turnout, or whether his views
mirror the country s, 26 per cent of the pop-
ulation is dreadfully low.
Turnout amongst 18-24 year olds will be
lower still. That young people have been turned
off politics is a shame and something that
might only be reversed by the emergence of
politicians who actually mean something to
That means we need younger politicians.
It also means we need a more diverse range
of politicians. More women for a start.
A gay politician or two wouldn t hurt either,
even though that would be technically illegal.
T&T s MPs should reflect more closely the
people we see around us in society.
With the coming of younger, fresher politi-
cians would come newer, fresher political ideas.
Refreshed approaches, a renewal of political
thinking and behaviour.
One hopes it would kill off the kind of infan-
tile nonsense (by elder statesmen no less) that
has marked some of the parties election cam-
In trying to respond to my colleague s ques-
tion I tried to think of any politicians I have
encountered thus far in my short time in T&T
who I find to be good.
And by "good" I don t refer to their social
or political outlook, less still their moral fibre.
I refer to: good at their job. Inspiring, caring,
motivated, skilled, focused, informed, in touch
with the public, earnest and with integrity. I
could only think of one who appears to match
those criteria, the member for Diego Martin
Central, Amery Browne.
One other, in my brief encounters with him,
seems to embody other important values of
a politician such as intelligence, patience and
experience, Ganga Singh. Beyond that, with
respect, I m struggling.
I think Winston Dookeran means well and
is sincere but I heard him recently described
as a "technocrat." Philosophically and theo-
retically he is well versed but is he adept at
running a ministry?
As for the rest? Well, it s about as barren
as UK politics is right now. In my Facebook
post I described British politics as dull but
T&T politics as non-existent.
What we saw in these local election cam-
paigns was not politics in any sense of the
word. It was simply slander after slander. Play-
ground behaviour from grown adults.
For Jack Warner to appear onstage in his
concession speech and complain at the "low
politics" he encountered, a man responsible
as much as anybody for dragging it down into
the gutter, a man who quite literally acted the
goat, it was a bare-faced deceit. One in a long
series of deceits. When I arrived in T&T and
saw the birth of a new party, clad in green,
it appeared to hold some promise.
Promise that, despite his past, Warner---
with his bulging coffers and a degree of public
popularity---might reinvent himself and rein-
vigorate a political scene entrenched in tribal,
racial, partisan politics. How wrong I was.
His speech in Endeavour, Chaguanas her-
alded not by the blare of trumpets but the
fading squeak of vuvuzelas, now bunged up
with so much wool and stuff and nonsense,
was the first time I d seen him forlorn, pathetic
A defeated man visibly taking in the message
from the people, even from his own supporters.
Probably doing the mental arithmetic of how
much all his efforts have dented his bank
He even made an oratorical mistake! Heaven
forbid! Instead of calling his party the ILP, he
said UNC! A horrendous, subconscious slip
of the tongue that he only corrected when
one of his entourage pointed it out.
I said earlier T&T needs more women in
politics. Warner had tried to bring them in to
his fold, but whether he did so for the right
reasons is a debatable point. As for the woman
at the top of the game, it remains to be seen
what lasting legacy she will leave and what
kind of inspiration she will be for aspiring
I hope that, unlike Margaret Thatcher (seen
as the ultimate feminist icon but fundamentally
a self-loathing woman who would have pre-
ferred the rest of her gender to stay home
cooking and sewing while their husband s
sorted the world s problems with missiles and
truncheons) Kamla Persad-Bissessar might
do a little more for women. She has two more
years to do so, if she makes it that far. As for
the ILP, it appears they won t.
If it loses St Joseph frankly it might as well
go home. That a selection of cobbled together
candidates could be rejected so badly appears
So does that mean that Keith Rowley s PNM,
which made huge strides this week towards
2015, is the only credible party? Without wish-
ing to align myself in any direction, I would
say, as an outside observer, Rowley seems the
most serious and intelligent of the political
leaders, in the way he conducts himself. He
is more serious about politics, less concerned
with mud slinging. If he is to be T&T s next
prime minister, long may that continue.
T&T politics as barren as the UK's
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