“As the woman fell, during the skit, one of the marchers stood over and remonstrated her conduct…marchers of Diego Martin West were interrupted by an uncoordinated woman, again clad in bright yellow and carrying a bottle of rum…The woman lurched as she held her bottle of rum while the announcer shouted abuse as the PNM crowd roared in delight.”
That’s a newspaper description of a highlight of the PNM’s Family and Sports Day held on Sunday at Mandela Park in Port of Spain. It was a day for families to enjoy together and also to hear a message of hope from PNM leader, Dr Keith Rowley. It could have been an opportunity for the PNM to present a vision for Trinidad and Tobago that supporters could take to the wider citizenry to convince them that the PNM and Dr Rowley deserve to be in government.
Instead, they witnessed a crude display of gutter politics that exposed the PNM as being bankrupt of ideas with nothing to offer except a scandalous portrayal of its principal opponent. And it was happening in the full glare of children.
The PNM’s attempt at ridiculing the country’s leader sent a signal to the children that it’s OK to descend to that low level of behaviour. And the adults who “roared in delight” were applauding the PNM’s endorsement of abuse and misogyny.
But no one should be shocked or surprised. This is the Rowley PNM. This is the leader who said wining on a teenager was no big thing and suggested that his critics should “get a life”. It was the country’s culture, and he would do it again, he said. This is the man who disrespected every woman with his “dog and cat” comment not too long ago.
So on Sunday is was no surprise that his message had no substance. There was no hint of improving people’s lives or providing necessary social services to help eradicate poverty. He had no economic policy to offer, no alternatives to present. His display of cheap theatrics was meant to entertain a partisan crowd that welcomed the juvenile behaviour even though it was offensive to women and families.
In five years all that Rowley has offered the people are the same failed and controversial policies that caused the fall of the Manning PNM administration – policies such as the rapid rail, the revenue agency, the property tax and vision 2020. Simple management practices tell you that you can’t do the same thing and expect a different result.
While Rowley and his PNM were engaged in teaching families that abusive behaviour is an acceptable form of criticism the lady who was the subject of their scorn – Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar – was telling a mass audience how she led the country out of the crisis that the PNM created, restoring the economy to buoyancy and how her programs and policies improved the lives of citizens across the country regardless of their race, religion or political beliefs. And she was presenting a roadmap to continued prosperity for the next five years.
She had no room for the pettiness that the Rowley PNM displayed. And there was a good reason for that; she is a leader and he is not.
Soon the people would have to choose between the two. Rowley’s failure makes the choice easy. And if polls are any indication of what will happen on Election Day Rowley might be returning to his seat as leader of the opposition.