CHANGE UNLIKELY IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

50

COMMENTARY BY JUSTICE HERBERT VOLNEY

From my vantage point on a hill, I have a view of Trinidad that speaks vol­umes of the state of our Union. I often see the stormy weather coming from the east and the passing showers on the Caroni plain.

Lately, I’ve spent some time down on what I call ‘the flat’ where the regular ordinary folk for the most part live. We speak more often in conversation begun by my many friends on the ground who know me once I open my mouth to say yes, it is I Volney. These are not the rabid haters who give me the ‘Brad Boyce’ or ‘Section 34’ taunts of the world wide web.
I have retreated from active pol­itics even though my pen can still cut like a knife on butter. I gather that my missives are read by thou­sands who by and large most of­ten share my political and other opinions in a country where there are few independent writers with a knowledge of the law of libel and the courage to call it as it is.

No changes coming despite….

My publisher in this weekly Sunshine Today newspaper the Honourable Jack Warner is an­other one such person who is fear­less in his expression of the facts that the people need to know. As a writer, I must speak to the respect for freedom of expression shown by this incumbent PNM govern­ment. I also note a policy of allow­ing the fundamental rights of the individual to flourish like never before. For all that can be said about Keith Rowley he has ma­tured in the job of Prime Minister over the last four years. He is quite open with sharing his family life with the public and opening up the Diplomatic Centre to more than just party hacks and supporters of the party he leads.
I have had the experience of sit­ting in a Cabinet of Ministers and on the front bench of the govern­ment in Parliament. My perspec­tive and vantage point to compare have been enhanced by my experi­ence in Executive government.
Both the Publisher and I are well placed to opine on the state of the Union and seldom differ in our assessment of the play. In all General Elections, one has felt when change is coming. I can say without fear of contradiction that if Trinidadians and Tobagonians continue to enjoy the life that they have today all the way into next year, there will be no change of government.
There’s been no Calder Hart in the room. And the government has treated the Petrotrin closure with a caring heart. The refinery could not have remained open bleeding the Treasury in the sums of bil­lions of dollars each year. Good packages were had by long-serving workers and there are steps afoot for reopening under the manage­ment of the OWTU.
No one can predict how this will pan out but it is a step in the right direction and any rumbling by the Opposition UNC is sour grape politics and a stumping by the PNM likely thwarting question­able plans that party had for it in the run-up to the upcoming Gen­eral Elections.
Given my experience with the UNC in whose bosom I was for three years while they were in government, I do not trust these people. Understand me that the vast majority of UNC support­ers are decent and hard-working people who have shown a great affection for me both during and after my time as a member of the party. I sense the same feeling is held towards the indomitable Jack Warner whose role in bringing the UNC into government in 2010 is often denied but now generally ac­cepted.

Trust factor has gone

Sadly we, and others who hold the key to the UNC as a party re­turning to the corridors of power are outcasts. We have not chosen to fall into the cracks. We were forced out because we were re­spected by even those who hated us for the party we supported, and nothing more.
We were part of the Fyzabad Accord and the movement of so many who felt the need for change. Unlike nearly all, we felt the loss of power by Kamla well before the people turned her out of office to save her from a power-crazy cabal that strangled her of her political independence and oxygen.
These persons remain in the UNC and the trust factor has all but gone when it comes to this party. There is no smell in the air for change.