to new PNM faces
The ringing endorsement from the party faithful at the PNM
special convention for the promised winds of change that were
about to blow through the windows of their precious Balisier
House confirms PM Mannings firm grasp on the horns of
Manning is large and in charge, and in total control. Whether
we like to admit it or not, this is democracy at work.
Manning is correct when he says that no individual is bigger
than the party, and that the PNM is a political brand with
50 years of reputation and goodwill.
The party has its own internal infrastructure and mechanisms
to deal with the selection of candidates. This is a matter
for the PNM party. Im not sure it is a matter of national
Panday has, for years, hand-picked his candidates, despite
the façade of a screening committee.
He floated the idea of genuine internal democracy when he
asked supporters to select an heir apparent in a copycat of
the US primaries.
People chose from among Ramesh, Kamla and Carlos.
Ramesh won the coveted title of deputy political leader, but
was unceremoniously sidelined in favour of Kamla.
Democratic choice is fine in political parties, but only as
long as the outcome coincides with the leaders choice
Dr Eric Williams was no different either, making MPs sign
blanket resignation letters just in case they stepped out
of line. The not a damn dog bark concept of political
leadership was very much a reality in the PNM under Williams,
who was king of his political kingdom.
I think the idea of using a party-commissioned poll to assist
in the selection of candidates for a general election is a
I do not agree with the protest that ministers have to run
ministries and be part of Cabinet, so it is unfair to judge
them on the basis of constituency representation.
Apart from their $50,000 monthly remuneration package, all
MPs receive over $10,000 per month for the purpose of maintaining
a functioning constituency office and hiring staff to provide
necessary support services in respect of official duties in
Many also hire additional persons under the guise of some
obscure contracted position in their ministry to assist them
in the performance of their constituency duties.
Given the resources available to government ministers, it
should not be that difficult for them to set up an efficient
constituency office manned by competent staff.
The fact is, many ministers (PNM/UNC/NAR) ignore their constituency
offices because they are too busy enjoying the nice life,
and realise that they have no use for the peasants that voted
them into office until the next general election.
Whats worse, they know that the people didnt actually
vote for them, but their party, and will do so again, come
Constituency politics is such that MPs create a small personal
local army which operates from the constituency office; they
dominate and control the allocation of resources made available
by their MP, such as jobs, houses, small contracts, etc.
The army comprises the local government representatives and
the small handful of trusted lieutenants, who demonstrate
with placards when the MP is under threat.
In truth, this army is more concerned about their personal
loss than any larger political loss because, as Manning quite
rightly observed, it is the PNM brand that they will vote
for, come election day.
Although I have concerns about the methodologyand I
agree that Manning may be using the poll as a ruse to get
rid of some MPsthe harsh political reality of our racial
tribal voting culture is that this is his prerogative, and
he will exercise it whether we like it or not.
He must have got feedback from his ground troops about the
performance of his MPs. His statement that the PNM must reject
politicians seeking personal aggrandisement or self-advancement
or fame, power and fortune is not one that should
be taken lightly.
In my view, nothing much will come of this hullabaloo, and
the PNM will benefit from fresh faces.
For far too long we have been saddled with career politicians,
some of whom seem to be in politics because they have become
engaged to the nice lifestyle and have no alternative profession
to fall back on.
(One might argue that both Manning and Panday fall into this
category as well). If the COP and UNC did such a poll, perhaps
they will get rid of some of the dead-weight, so that we can
have some change all around!
Should there be a limit on the number of years one can be
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