There’s a farce underway among some of the players who, until quite recently, strutted the Trinidad and Tobago landscape not only like they owned the place, but like they would continue to do so till kingdom come. The country’s voters, to their eternal credit, had other ideas. And Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the former prime minister, is now being challenged for the leadership of her party, the United National Congress (UNC), in its upcoming internal election. Somehow, the matter of who is culpable for the party’s defeat by the People’s National Movement (PNM) in the Sept. 7 general elections seems to have become a bone of contention among aspirants for the party leadership. And what a sick joke that is!
Bissessar has never exhibited the kind of classiness that would have moved her, after leading her party into five electoral defeats since 2013, to voluntarily vacate the top-dog perch. No one ought be surprised she thinks that’s where she still belongs. So after doing some posturing, during her five-year run as prime minister, that she wasn’t of so-called “maximum leader” persuasion (for instance, brandishing a proposal to limit prime ministerial tenure), Bissessar’s defiance about quitting as UNC leader renders her as “maximum” as the best of them.
But that being so, whither this tomfoolery regarding who is responsible for the party’s recent defeat – indeed, for the string of defeats the party suffered in the last two-plus years of its time in office? Are we to interpret this mockery about affixing blame as, in truth, who orchestrated or was engaged in more skullduggery than any other contributing partner? Con games are par for the course with Bissessar and her crew. The difference here being, while normally they try to work the con on others not of their stripe, in the instant case some of the key slicksters are trying to out-slick each other. It’s pretty safe to say the public, except for core party support, isn’t buying and doesn’t much care about these attempted sleight-of-hand maneuvers.
The average Joe is disposed to being dismissive about finger-pointing among UNC operatives because a pretty good chunk of the public bought what turned out to be a snow job in 2010, leading to the party’s gaining a parliamentary majority. Back then, albeit facilitated by the super-arrogance of the then prime minister, PNM leader Patrick Manning, and a supporting cast fecklessly kowtowing to Manning’s megalomania-driven M.O, the UNC landed itself the saleable trump card of Bissessar as the country’s first female prime minister, and floated into governance on that history-making fantasy flight.
The bare, blunt reality concerning Bissessar and her confederates is that they steadily lost elections since roughly midway through their five-year term controlling the central government, because it wasn’t long before the electorate became wise to how steeped was the UNC-dominated government in immoral conduct of public affairs. Only one of the lesser parties in the mislabeled “People’s Partnership” exited the fold, relatively early, presumably upon realizing wholesomeness to be more conspicuously absent than the euphoria of 2010 had intimated. Later would come some mea culpa episodes, including from Jack Warner, as these few would claim belated awareness of the Bissessar bandwagon’s disturbing underbelly. No such worries for the UNC core, though; they would stay put. They knew why.
Notwithstanding reports that have circulated of much pre-departure document shredding by Bisssessar administration personnel, there’s been a whole lot so far uncovered by the new government that conveys a sense of the scale of profligacy and wanton abuse of governmental authority over what will likely come to be seen as a five-year span for the ages. It was, by all appearances, routine behavior and rightly became the Bissessar team’s defining marker.
It is hubris perhaps on a level most of us can’t conceive, for participants in this orgy of governmental malfeasance to be furiously dueling over who owns culpability for the defeat in September. If, during the five-year spree, there was any voice among them cautioning that the open door to the feeding trough needed to be slammed shut, we haven’t heard of this person of conscience. And frankly, we don’t believe, here, that such a one exists. “We’re all in this together” was as good a mantra as any for the Bissessar team while they ran roughshod over the public trust they’d been given in good faith.
Much more than even mild interest in UNC tricksters’ post-September charade, observers of a truly sorry pass in Trinidad and Tobago’s political history are understandably curious about culpability and its consequences where they properly belong. Namely, will five years’ accumulation of wrongdoing go entirely unpunished?