IN THE early stages of covid19 protection measures, many crawled naked through broken glass to heap praise on this administration.
Others heaped scorn on the Opposition, swatting aside their criticisms and queries as naked politicisation of a crisis that demands unity and patriotism. Patriotism during this period took on the peculiar definition as holding your tongue – holding it close to the posterior of the Government.
Few things in TT aren’t processed through the prism of our self-serving politics. Not even the menace of covid19 could change that.
Given that we are better at shooting the messenger than processing the message, a fair bit of what we ought to be focused on gets lost in the murk of petty politics.
These shortcomings were at play in revelations surrounding the fuel deal with Aruba; fuel which purportedly ended up in Venezuela.
This was a gotcha moment for the UNC – a chance to zwill the Government’s kite. Unable to resist the temptation, the Opposition made opaque what should have been transparent. It resorted to the default of political theatrics in the form of a letter to the US ambassador on the subject of the alleged fuel shuffle.
Predictably, the Opposition UNC made themselves the villain. They were condemned for calling down hellfire and blacklisting on their own country. As such, rational and reasoned debate on the issues was muted by broad characterisations of their fork-tongued treachery.
The Opposition protested innocence, saying the letter was written merely as supplicant to overlord begging mercy from being thrown into the sanctions hole. Naturally, there were few takers.
Just as an aside, do we really believe the US relies on a UNC buss-mark for their information?
The Opposition is blissfully unaware of the way their dinosaur style of politics triggers otherwise rational people. By resorting to banal showmanship, individuals who might be inclined to pay attention to the message get turned off by the means (or modality if you will) of delivery. The Opposition makes itself the focal point of people’s animus while critical issues play like background music.
Now, if you bring a donkey to a party, everyone will
want to ride the donkey. The Opposition could just as easily have presented their concerns about the Paria fuel deal to the Parliament and the media without any theatrics. They should have made the information available to the public, left the politics out of it and allowed citizens to take the baton with their own questions. Instead...look ah donkey.
Consequently, the conversation swung to irrelevant chatter about US imperialism in the region, betrayal, sovereign imperatives and lots of other peripheral claptrap.
Members of the public ought to have been focused on the transaction, how it came to be, and whether the Government through its proxy, Paria Trading, acted responsibly.
In short, there were questions of public accountability as decisions made in the name of the people had the potential for a profound impact on us all. After all, citizens have a right to know what the Government is doing on their behalf.
In this regard, the Opposition, and the Government, are failing in their duty of accountability to the people. Apropos of that thought, it’s easy to forget that the Opposition (and any party inhabiting that role) is a legitimate part of the apparatus of governance. Members of the Opposition are elected by their constituents to sit in the legislature.
The Opposition is meant to hold the Government to account and vigorously give voice to the people who put them there. So it’s the Opposition’s responsibility to reflect the concerns members of the public may have on issues of national importance.
Yet, because of our winner-take-all, loser-suck-salt adversarial style of politics, opposition parties are typically cast as bitter losers with no say in the running of the country. This is dangerous as it disenfranchises those who voted for opposition MPs. It also gives the Opposition a pass to say, we aren’t in power so we can’t do anything. Allyuh vote fuh dat!
Members of the NKA club (Never Kamla Again) would do well to remember that the Opposition isn’t a political party, but the result of a particular election. It is an office of the State. The Opposition would better serve the country and their constituents by aggressively promoting the facts and shutting down the political gong show.
The Opposition and Government are accountable to the people. The people have a responsibility to demand more of them both.