Political frenemies

Photo courtesy Pixabay
Photo courtesy Pixabay

THERE IS no shortage of bad blood in politics these days.

Consider the acrimony in Parliament at last week’s no-confidence motion against Stuart Young. Consider the unwillingness of parties to sit together to resolve the Tobago impasse.

So it was refreshing this week to see two former government ministers crossing political divides in order to serve the national interest. Karen Nunez-Tesheira, who was appointed this country’s first female finance minister in a PNM cabinet, on Monday lobbied the government to reverse its position on procurement laws during a UNC webinar.

On the same day, Dr Emmanuel Hosein, a health minister in the 1986-1990 NAR government, appeared at the crease to bat for the covid19 vaccine at the Ministry of Health’s virtual press briefing alongside the PNM’s Terrence Deyalsingh.

We need more of this. We need more people to put country before party in the way Ms Nunez-Tesheira and Dr Hosein have.

Rabid partisanship is hardly new. Nor is it limited to this country. Though Donald Trump is gone, the US is still clearly nursing old wounds, as evidenced by the wide gap between Democrats and Republicans on the matters of impeachment, economic stimulus packages and the policy of US President Joe Biden on the climate crisis.

At times, it has appeared that the US modus operandi has rubbed off far too strongly on local politicians, who seem hell-bent on emulating a model of division and strife.

Gone are the days, it seems, when you could depend on statesmen to carry through on the lessons of old proverbs such as: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” In today’s climate, it is this kind of nuance that is missing. In its place is an unnerving fidelity to the dictates of Machiavellian thinking or simply toeing the party line, no matter the cost.

Yet Ms Nunez-Tesheira and Dr Hosein are not the only recent examples of people crossing divides in service of the bigger picture. Another participant in Monday’s UNC webinar was Ralph Maraj, who has the rare distinction of having served as a minister in both PNM and UNC administrations.

The general election hustings last year also saw Nafeesa Mohammed, a former PNM deputy political leader, leave the party and endorse a UNC candidate.

Gary Hunt, a former PNM sports minister, backed his brother as a UNC candidate. Mr Hunt noted blood is thicker than water, but suggested he had fallen out of love with the present PNM.

The Prime Minister on Wednesday dismissed Ms Nunez-Tesheira’s appearance at the UNC event, saying birds of a feather flock together.

But only a few days ago Dr Rowley was part of the flock too: hoping against hope for the same spirit of co-operation to prevail between the parties in Tobago.


"Political frenemies"

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