By: Jack Warner
The writing is on the wall. The message has been sent.
The 2020 General Election is not going to be a walk in the park for Rowley’s People’s National Movement. As a matter of fact, the PNM can depend on a fierce battle as the United National Congress seeks to unseat Dr Keith Rowley and reinstall Kamla Persad Bissessar into the seat of power.
No one really expected the UNC to perform this well. Not even those in leadership within the party. No one expected, given the PNM’s domination of the airwaves and the millions they spent, that the UNC had a chance of levelling the scores, far more winning seats in PNM controlled areas. But it did and in so doing the message is now clear that the UNC is not prepared to roll over and die.
PNM should hang its head in shame
The PNM needs to hang its collective head in shame and no amount of posturing by Fitzgerald Hinds on national television can change that. People like Hinds is the very reason why the PNM is in trouble. Even in the face of defeat; even in the face of monumental embarrassment Hinds states that “the UNC is gasping for breath.” What a clown (wish I could have printed a stronger word) Hinds continues to be! After all, this is by far one of the worst UNC administrations in the history of the party.
This administration lacks unity, lacks camaraderie, lacks a spirit of oneness yet the PNM, while being the Government has failed to capitalise on the UNC’s weaknesses and perform in a manner that would shake the confidence of every UNC member.
In the Parliament, it is clear that this UNC is at its most divisive. Everyone is not familiar with the script. The once leading lights within the party are no more and yet Rowley’s PNM could not have made a defining statement and bury Kamla’s UNC once and for all?
It is not that I am in sorrow because of Rowley’s loss. Never! It is just that with all his rhetoric, his chants about the readiness of the PNM, they have failed ignominiously to capture the imagination of the people and allowed the UNC to become relevant once again.
The people have lost hope
Rowley’s failure is predicated on the fact that the people of Trinidad and Tobago, under this current administration have lost hope. We have lost our way at a time when we expected the Prime Minister to awaken our kindred spirit and a reason to hope again. Rowley’s failure is predicated on the fact that he had no message for the people. “Getting it done” was their mantra and, a week ago, this paper asked, “What have you done for the people in four years Dr Rowley?” What? Another chant was “red and rolling.” Rolling to damnation, no doubt.
This administration, during the entire election campaign, could not point to one basic achievement they have accomplished. This was a despicable performance by the PNM and Kamla must rue the fact that she was unable to build a team, shades of 2020 that would have demoralised and devastated Rowley’s PNM in this Local Government Elections. But if we are honest, we all must ask the question what has Rowley done for us lately? On the eve of election people from River Estate, Blue Basin and Patna Village were disturbed that the PNM were still paving the roads in an attempt to steal their vote. So too in Lopinot! Old political tactics in a new era!
Little did the PNM know that the UNC was already quietly making inroads into the PNM territory dismantling the power of the PNM well-oiled machinery. Quietly.
For the records, Dr Rowley, could you really not speak about health and hygiene issues during the campaign? For none of these was addressed at the Local Government level during your
On the platform, Dr Rowley could you not have spoken about local government reform? Because the local government initiative that you promised, you have simply failed to deliver.
During the run-up to this election, Councillors would normally boast about the rivers and the waterways they maintained but the stewardship of this administration showed that their failure to dredge and desilt the rivers resulted in the loss of property to many
The people are clearly frustrated with the Rowley administration
And finally, Dr Rowley and company realised that the last-minute patching of our roads which would have fooled the people years ago did not do the trick this time because, with the advent of social media, the real stories are now broadcast.
This is a serious message that the people of Trinidad and Tobago have delivered to Dr Rowley and his PNM.
The people are clearly frustrated with the Rowley administration and the message that was sent is that the tide is turning. The swing has already begun. That shift in the voting pattern is opening the door for Kamlamania to once again take over the country.
The PNM will now have to go back to the drawing board to understand how in a mere four years they humbly surrendered eight seats to the Opposition.
Back to the drawing board, Mr PM
The PNM should call an emergency meeting and discuss how it was possible for the UNC to capture the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation which is located in the heartland of the PNM along the East-West Corridor. They have to explain how Ronald Heera, the PNM candidate for the electoral district of Enterprise South lost his seat to the UNC after having been there for the last twenty years.
The PNM has to seek to understand the strategy used by the UNC that continues to maintain a virtually impenetrable fortress around its constituencies. These are critical considerations which must be given now as the movement away from the PNM continues, from the Bye-election when the PNM lost the seat in the San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation to the dismal showing Monday at the polls.
There is no good news for the PNM after this election. For regardless of how the party wishes to spin an explanation for this failure, the truth is it failed to perform, failed to meet the expectations of the people, ignored its activists and loyalists on the ground and sought to alienate its people in favour of the one percent.
Take my Advice, Dr Rowley
It is not that Dr Rowley was not advised. Week after week in my column “Advice to the Prime Minister” I provided him with a road map, showing him the path to victory and showing him the pitfalls which would lead to his demise, but he would not listen. He, like the rest of his Cabinet, was arrogance personified.
Rather than humble himself and recognize the wisdom he was given, he mounted platforms, maligning me, setting examples for other members like obeah woman Camille Robinson Regis to do the same. Now, do you see what I was saying to you, Dr. Rowley?
This is what I sought to spare you from. It is the agony of defeat, the pain of rejection and the anguish that in less than five years, the people who reposed trust and confidence in you and your Government have rejected you at the polls.
All is not lost
I can tell you though that all is not lost because my journey in politics has taught me that a day in politics is likened unto more than a year. But you have to serve the people honestly and not face an election harbouring secrets such as the Sandal Scandal, the Sale of Petrotrin and the Dragon Gas Deal and believe you will be given a second chance to rule. At present, the people of the country are just fed-up of the PNM but this does not necessarily mean that they are enamoured with the UNC. They simply do not know where to turn to politically.
Dr Rowley didn’t I warn you about the price you will pay for your failure to be transparent and accountable to your people? Didn’t I warn you that people were waiting patiently to vote you out after you removed the subsidies on fuel and then allowed your Finance Minister to laugh at them and taunt them? Monday night’s defeat is the price you have to pay. And, unless you change and change quickly, a bigger defeat is lurking in the background.
Now you have less than a year to make a difference, less than a year to show that you really care. Less than a year, Dr Rowley, to try to recapture the lost ground which I advised you was slipping away from the PNM. But you took no heed. Instead you, in your usual fashion, sought to demonise the messenger and refused to internalise the message.
My advice to you once again is to treat the people right. Give them a sense of hope. You and your Cabinet do not have all the answers to the country’s problems. Forget the fake wisdom of those with deep pockets who cannot deliver to the PNM the votes at election time.
Monday night’s loss is an embarrassment. Accept this defeat. But be aware that come 2020, if the slide continues, you will have five years to regret failing to accept the unsolicited weekly advice I have been giving to you for the last four years when you sit among the seats within the Opposition.
Blame yourself for the LGE results, Dr Rowley, and face the writing on the wall!