The battle ground constituencies are where a party’s best candidates are placed, not the safe constituencies. Unfortunately, too many of our seasoned politicians demand safe seats, not to form government but to secure their seats in Parliament and consequently, a guaranteed income.
In 2010 Winston Dookeran went to battle in the frontier constituency of Tunapuna and won it for the People’s Partnership. Winston Dookeran was very clear in his mind that he was not in politics to sit in the Opposition in a political arrangement where winner takes all. He preferred engaging in a do or die battle-win and form government or lose and quit!
Not many veteran politicians share this view. A few who had safe seats in the UNC heartland came into politics in opposition to the UNC. One academician at The UWI expounded a theory that Basdeo Panday, the then leader of the Opposition, had his supporters imprisoned in the sugar-belt and that change would only come about when the sugar cane prisons are destroyed and the people are liberated. And yes, the people of the sugar cane belt are liberated! Today, they are forming alliances with willing partners to defeat the PNM in the battleground constituencies called the marginals!
While Ahloy Hunt, Nabila Green, David Nakhid, Michelle Benjamin, Vandana Mohit, David Lee, Sean Sobers and Jearlean John do battle in the frontier constituencies, these political theorists are still trapped in barren theories that have kept them out of power.
Not born in the political trenches with Basdeo Panday as the mid wife, these political theoreticians were delivered into the world of politics by A. N.R. Robinson. Like Napoleon’s pops they were trained to attack whoever their master disliked. One political pompek developed a reputation for his vicious attacks on Basdeo Panday but later wormed himself into the safe and cozy arms of Basdeo Panday and later Kamla Persad-Bissessar. This individual is the reflection of the term nemakharam!
Politics is about winning! It is bloody and messy and ruthless! Those politicians who were delivered in the nursing homes have failed to develop the immunity for long and sustained battles against the likes of Keith Rowley, Fitzgerald Hindu, WPC Camille Robinson-Regis and Colm Imbert. Nevertheless, a platform for electoral success is the cultivation of a strong middle class. If today, the UNC is seen as the alternative to the PNM it is only because it has been successful in rallying a large middle class electoral support base so much so that former PNM supporters are embracing the UNC as the last hope to rescue the economy and our failing institutions.
In Suriname, the VHP won the majority of seats and formed the government because many Creoles lost faith in their political leadership. With Desi Bouterse convicted of murder by the Suriname’s court, his son serving a sentence for drug trafficking in the USA, and Bouterse wanted for criminal trials in the Netherlands, many creoles saw no hope in the NPS.
It is the strengthening of the middle class that provide stability to a country. Unfortunately, many politicians who demand safe seats from the heartland direct resources of the State for the advancement of the interest and welfare of the one percenters. While prime lands are developed with infrastructure and leased at peppercorn rate to the one percenters, the farmers and families living in the lagoons are not provided any compensation after their homes and crops are flooded. More so, very little is done to improve drainage and basic infrastructure.
Colonialism has done well to alienate many educated individuals from their cultural bearings. Like bureaucrats, many politicians act as though they are put in office to serve the welfare of the business elites. This colonial mindset is challenging to change but must be removed and replaced with young minds with innovative ideas and no theoreticaal baggage.
The UNC candidates do not need any acknowledgement or approvals from the one percenters. Much aware that the people are the ones to elect them to office, their focus is on attending to the needs of the people and more so the lifting of the lower income group out of the morass of social hopelessness. The expansion of the middle class is the only indicator that a government is working for the welfare of the people.
The UNC has come of age and is pointing the way forward for Trinidad and Tobago. It is a platform for all people to rally around to move the country forward, away from the culture of State dependency and hopelessness.