by Capil Bissoon
Politics makes for very strange bedfellows. Three hard-back men with over 180 years combined and a record of all kinds of tricks—good, bad, dirty and otherwise— are seeking to dethrone one woman, and a grandmother at that!
Dr Keith Rowley, Austin Jack Warner and Ancel Roget should be ashamed of themselves. Trinis don’t like to see advantage.
Ordinarily, I would feel sorry for the woman—in this case the esteemed Kamla Persad-Bissessar. The truth, as these hard-back men will soon learn, is to never underestimate the power and resourcefulness of a Caribbean, and especially a Trini, woman. As calypsonian Denyse Plummer boasted, “Woman is Boss”. They may not possess brawn, they may even appear fragile, and they oft-times make men feel that they are in charge. Truth is women can mamaguy if necessary, are wily, understand the essence of timing and the power of setting their enemies up for the inevitable knockout punch. They are master strategists. In the Caribbean, women are in charge.
Yesterday, we celebrated Father’s Day and Edith Clarke’s seminal book, My Mother Who Fathered Me, kept going through my mind. As Sparrow sang, “Ah man like to feel he is a big wheel — big in every way… Bigger than Cassius Clay.”
My prediction is that Rowley, Warner and Roget, heavyweight champions none, will soon go down for the count. Why?
They should have a quiet chat with the wily silver fox himself, Basdeo Panday. For decades, Mr Panday strode our political landscape like a behemoth. He was monarch of all he surveyed. When he said come, big men cometh. When he said “go” they unquestionably obeyed. He even advised we should feel sorry for a lion if he (Panday) were in a fight with that beast.
That was yesterday. Today, punch drunk from a left upper cut, he never saw coming from Kamla, he continues to make incoherent and irrelevant utterances against her from the political wilderness. Today the lion (in this case the lioness) would easily win.
Further, they should even ask former PM Patrick Manning, our longest serving MP. He removed all contenders like Ken Valley from his PNM and filled his Cabinet with pliant OJTs, much like Dr Rowley plans to do. Mr Manning was selected by President Robinson on some notion of moral and spiritual values. As well, Mr Manning had his spiritual adviser who presumably brought unique insights into his decision-making processes.
Underestimating Kamla, he called an early election and like Mr Panday before, has not yet recovered from that night of May 24, 2010.
The political cemetery is littered with the corpses of Kamla’s opponents and former greats like Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj and members of the “Wrong Table”—all still vying for a space on our political landscape.
Today we are witness to a very well-orchestrated and superbly coordinated tag team of Dr Rowley, Jack Warner and Ancel Roget who have synchronised their strategies and tactics to achieve their greatest wish which is to destroy the electoral chances of Kamla Persad-Bissessar, a distinguished and charismatic female leader.
They know that this election provides a choice between Kamla and Dr Rowley.
They know that she is well liked and has delivered a better quality of life for all.
They know that Dr Rowley has failed to deliver a vision or a plan to take this country forward. Instead of any plan, they serve us comess.
Yesterday Dr Rowley attacked Mr Warner as unsuitable to hold a position in Cabinet.
Today dem is real friend and while keeping an arm’s length distance, Dr Rowley and Mr Roget pursue a common anti-Kamla agenda.
Yesterday Mr Roget was Kamla’s best friend. Today, despite the most worker friendly government in recent times, Mr Roget is Kamla’s worst enemy.
Under Kamla’s watch, more than 90 wage negotiations were settled. The minimum wage has been increased twice to $15. Three unions threatened with decertification were given new life and pensions, the ultimate safety net for workers, increased significantly.
The Government has also given workers pay increases, in some cases of 14 per cent despite reduced revenues. Kamla remains focused on the upliftment, empowerment and protection of all citizens, especially the working-class women and men.
In developed countries including Canada, the US, Britain and Italy, a de facto wage freeze exists so that the middle classes are now feeling the squeeze.
All that counts for naught in Mr Roget’s calculations.
Mr Warner, facing prison in the US, international pariah status, and “toting” hurt from his dismissal from Cabinet, has trained his guns on Kamla.
When it’s over, Kamla Persad-Bissessar will remain standing. Intelligent swing voters will not fall for bacchanal and comess.