“WELCOME, welcome. Tell Mr Manning’s son he has nothing to worry about. He don’t have to frighten for anything. He could stay home on the day of the election and still win.”
These were among some of the reactions from San Fernando East constituents on Monday to news that Brian Manning was selected as the PNM’s candidate for this constituency in the general elections, with incumbent MP Randall Mitchell failing to get the nod.
When Newsday visited the constituency on Monday, the mood was generally positive to Manning’s selection. There were very few dissenting voices who felt Manning was a “johnny-come-lately” and there were more deserving people in the PNM trenches.
Support also came from the most unlikely quarter. Roopnarine Ramdass of Orchid Gardens said he is a card-carrying member of the United National Congress (UNC). He said he was also a PNM card holder as his late wife was once a PNM candidate.
Displaying his UNC card, Ramdass said, “I don’t like to vote. I don’t want nothing to do with my MP Randall Mitchell. He don’t care about we. If they putting up Brian Manning, I would vote for him.” Brian is the younger of two sons of the late prime minister Patrick Manning and former Education Minister Hazel Manning. The Mannings’ other son is David.
Both Manning and Mitchell were screened last weekend. San Fernando East constituency chairman Patricia Alexis announced via Facebook that Manning got the nod from the screening committee. The executive thanked Mitchell for his service and extended best wishes to him for the future.
Mitchell succeeded the late Manning who held the record of continuous service to the constituency for 41 years. Reached by telephone, Hazel Manning declined to comment on her son’s decision to run. “No, no. This is his run. His phone must be ringing more than mine. Keep calling. You will get him,” she said. All efforts to do so proved futile.
Newsday sought the response of constituents on the change and encountered Simon Alexander at the Pleasantville Plaza where he was speaking with Roy Parris. Upon learning young Manning was the PNM’s standard bearer in San Fernando East, Alexander shouted, “Good. Amen! Amen!” Alexander said if Mitchell was returned as the candidate, “he was not getting my vote.”
The elderly man who said he has been a supporter of the party, “since the days of Williams,” (TT’s first PM Dr Eric Williams) tipped his head to PNM’s political leader Dr Keith Rowley for his astute decision where Manning was concerned.
Retired policeman Roy Parris said being in the service one was taught to be neutral and not publicly show political affiliation. “So, it does not really matter to me.”
Parris who lived for most of his adult life in Central Trinidad, said he moved to the constituency about six years ago but never had any personal contact with Mitchell. Weighing in of the party’s choice, Parris sought to put an emotional twist to the choice of Manning.
“I think that Dr Rowley, even though he was humiliated by Patrick Manning, feels to himself that he owes something to the Manning family. So as a result, Brian was screened and selected.” Parris said he would vote for Manning’s son.
Having lived abroad, Rachel Constance said she has not followed the politics for the past couple years. She said she believes Mitchell did a good job, but based on the Manning representation of the past, she is willing to continue the Manning legacy and would vote for Brian.
Kendall Atteck also said Mitchell was a decent guy who may have done good things for certain people. “But I gave him five years and what did he do for me,” Atteck asked as he shrugged his shoulder. “Speaking from my heart, my MP did not check for the youths in the area. It is unfair to vote for a man who not really seeking our interest.”