Is this what politics has become?

Clyde Weatherhead -
Clyde Weatherhead -


WHEN A friend sent me a graphic on Thursday announcing a media conference by the Prime Minister at 1 pm the next day, I was a bit sceptical. For one thing the time was a bit unusual. Also, I recalled receiving a similar graphic a few weeks ago which turned out to be from 2020.

There was no topic and it wasn’t a regular covid19 media conference day. So I asked my friend what was this about. I also checked the PM’s Office website and Facebook page. But it was only when I heard the same announcement in the news on more than one radio station was I sure it was happening.

By 1 o’clock I was on my way to Port of Spain and party of a captive audience. I was lost for a while as to the purpose of the immediate post-lunch media engagement.

Essentially, the PM/PNM political leader was grasping “the first opportunity” to vent his feelings about what he described as an attempt to scandalise him for political purposes related to the THA elections the following Monday. Naturally, his claim was against the UNC.

He then proceeded to tell us that he had passed documents to his lawyers to see if another defamation suit like those he boasted he had won was to be pursued.

He went on to present a campaign speech in support of his party’s candidates in the elections, suggesting that the issue in the was the possibility of separation of Tobago from Trinidad if the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) won the majority in the THA.

He also claimed that secession was that party’s manifesto position and that fitted into the UNC’s position. Well that it what he had said the weekend before when he gave a similar campaign speech in Tobago.

For good measure, like his candidates in Tobago, he warned that separation was not in the best interest of Tobago because it doesn’t have the economic wherewithal to survive without Trinidad.

At the same time he announced that the Government was putting four hydrocarbon blocks off Tobago up for bid by the oil barons of the hydrocarbon multinationals. Those resources would be Tobago’s to benefit Tobago.

But he warned that Tobago needed to be aware of the “pain of a dry hole” with which he, as a geologist, is wary.

Well this became the centrepiece of the PNM campaign of fear and denigration in Tobago with the holdover Chief Secretary who was never a PNM political leader or candidate for chief secretary and his leader.

Do so playing they eh like so?

In any case, the PNM in control of the THA for 21 years did not have the authority to even grant Tobago autonomy simply because the THA cannot touch the Constitution no matter who controls it.

So all that alarmist fearmongering by both the Tobago and Trinidad political leaders of the PNM was just hot air.

The PDP, even if it had won all 15 seats in the elections, could not implement secession any more than the PNM could give Tobago self-government even when it held all 12 seats in the THA.

Only the Parliament can amendment the Constitution to change anything in the nature of the forced and unequal union between Tobago and Trinidad.

So what the PNM claimed was the fundamental issue in those elections was as much a fake issue as when it said that the “real issue” in the 2019 local government election was local government reform – which no regional corporation could actually implement if wanted.

Why? Because just like the THA the regional corporations don’t have the power to change the legal framework in which they operate.

Dr Rowley, like every other citizen, if he feels he is being scandalised or defamed, just has to have his lawyers take steps to defend his reputation.

That media conference drama immediately called to mind a similar drama organised by a former PNM PRO when he called a media conference at 11 am eight days before the general election of August 2020.

Using his governmental position as national security minister, he called the media conference to vent his complaint about defamation of himself and to defend his father’s name. He announced that he had placed the matter in the hands of his lawyers.

He also used that stage to make a political campaign speech in support of his own candidacy. Sounds like the same kind of script from the red playbook used last week by the PM, doesn’t it?

When the then national security minister did it, I spoke against that as an abuse of official office.

The staged drama by the PM three days before the elections is another ploy following the disbursement of $40 million in covid19 relief money in Tobago three weeks before the elections, followed by the handing out of 30 letters of comfort the next week.

After 21 years in control of the THA and after 11 months holding on to office after the six-six tie in the January stalemate, it is more than hard to understand why the PNM feels the need to engage in these kinds of actions to try and hold on to power.


"Is this what politics has become?"

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