N Touch
Monday 16 July 2018
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Letters to the Editor

Polls focus should

THE EDITOR: Ever so often the results of polls are published, informing the population as to the movement of the performance of a prime minister, in particular.

In this regard I am to point out that the constitutional imperatives in TT calls into question the veracity and, indeed, the usefulness of these polls which tend to single out the Prime Minister as being the “be all and the end all” of a government. He is not!

First let me point out that the statistical measurement in these polls (however designed) are subjective, not being an indication of contribution to a production line, for example, but rather the assumed outcome of pressures and counter-pressures in the political and economic spectrum.

Our Prime Minister, in the Westminster tradition, is chairman of the Cabinet — the policy-making entity — and, while his is vested with the duty to select its members, he is “primus inter pares” with this power to appoint being subject to such political realities as may exist even within his own political party.

Further, it is important to note that for a person to be appointed a minister in TT, he or she must be a member of the House of Representatives or of the Senate. Indeed, here is where the veracity of the polls which focus on the Prime Minister must be called into question for while our Prime Minister is vested with the power to nominate members of the Senate and have them appointed as ministers (as the case may be) he is constrained by being “saddled” with those people (whether or not they are appointed ministers) who had been elected to membership of the House at the last general election.

From the above, therefore, it must be clear that a poll which seeks to measure the performance of a prime minister, as prime minister, is of limited veracity and is seriously flawed, considering that:

(a) It fails to take into account and to measure the competence of Cabinet ministers with whose services the Prime Minister may wish to dispense but his being unable so to do perhaps not until the next general election. What this does is to demonstrate the importance of selection of candidates for a general election, an act which may nevertheless not guarantee the “throwing up” of people of the ilk originally expected.

(b) In any event, the result of the recent poll itself should take cognisance of the “vicissitudes” at its timing, especially those involving the inter-island ferry service. I need only direct attention to the fact that the Prime Minister is a Tobagonian.

(c) Why has a corresponding poll not been taken in respect of the Leader of the Opposition?

The upshot is that the taking of a poll which concentrates on the assumed performance of a prime minister of TT is of very little intrinsic value. Rather, it will be more meaningful if it were taken in respect of the Government as a complete entity.



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