Posted by: nastylittletruths | June 8, 2008

What Now, Gentlemen?

What is it with us that we can’t move on when it’s time to do just that? Even though Denyse Plummer meant something totally different when she sang Nah Leavin’, it’s the most apt term to use when office holders in Trinidad refuse to do the honourable thing and resign for the greater good.

The benchmark I always use for this “honourable” action was during the fallout in the UK after the suicide of David Kelly (a weapons expert) who was the source of a BBC reporter’s story that Tony Blair’s government had embellished the case for war against Iraq. Lord Hutton, who was appointed by the government to investigate the circumstances surrounding the suicide, was so stinging in his criticism of the BBC that Gavyn Davies, the Chairman, resigned even though he had no direct control over the reporter and the story. His principled action was based on the simple premise that it had less to do with what the reporter actually did and more with the failure of governance.

Trinidad’s history is littered with instances where the most honourable thing to do was to resign, but persons held on to their office with the tenacity of a bulldog. Take Basdeo Panday as an example. I remembered his pain which was caught superbly by the Express after the last general elections and his statement that sitting on the opposition side is a waste of time in that all they can do is talk. His subsequent action was to not talk in Parliament and after the fiasco with the Speaker was suspended from the House for the rest of the session.

And my question is very simple, what are you doing Bas? You obviously have no interest in this term – the PNM won, you lost – and you wonder if you can make another election. The predictions of Ramesh about elections within three years probably looks very enticing, but I won’t hold my breath. And yet you talk about haters, about people wanting to get rid of you and wanting your support base… Is it that difficult to really ride out gracefully and leave someone else with the responsibility of leading your party (yes, it will always be yours) into government? As much as you’ve heard it before, and as much as you’ve scorned at it’s significance, I still believe that the UNC can never hold government again. With you as the political leader makes it even more difficult. And that’s as dispassionate as it can get.

Then we have Winston Dookeran. Rejected at the polls after being an MP says something. If you cannot carry your own constituency, which voted for you before, you cannot carry the country. The fact that you have an enormous amount of talent, and I will like nothing better than to see you in charge of planning the direction of this country as you did in the 1980s, does not mean you have the same talent to fire the imaginations and spirit of the populace to make you the Prime Minister. In the corporate world there is a contentious theory of promoting people to their level of incompetence. You may be the best at one level and you get promoted, because of that, but you fail miserably at your new posting. Sadly, I think that this is what happened here… And just as it’s difficult for the corporate employee to revert to his old job as it becomes an admittance of failure, you continue to retain the post until you are fired just as the employee will be eventually.

Finally, what about Patrick Manning? With all the allegations swirling about his hand-picked, blue-eyed boys in UdeCoTT, EMBDC and elsewhere, do you expect him to resign. That and God’s face you won’t see, as we say. With a practically unassailable majority in the house, which five MPs do you see having a serious enough case of conscience to withdraw their support and make him go back to the polls as he had to do in 1995?

I wrapped up with Patrick as this list can go on and on with others who should have left a long time ago: Martin Jospeh, Trevor Paul, Esther LeGendre… Under their watch, through failure of governance, we’ve had to endure an unprecedented crime wave and scandalous leaks in an examinations system that will be tainted for a long time. You can hide behind all the spin you want, at the end of the day authority comes with responsibility and if you do not accept the responsibility, you are there just for the perks…


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