AS a founding member of the United National Congress, having seen its development from gestation in 1988 to birth in 1989, to a formidable parliamentary force in 1991 and to government in 1995, it is distressing to observe the predicament of the party in its current incarnation and under its present leadership.
It is stuck in a kind of no man’s land, neither functioning as a viable Opposition nor as a credible challenger for Government.
The party embraces a political culture which views any criticism of the leader or reference to dysfunctionality in the operations of the party as issues not to be openly discussed and debated, but as mortal challenges to its sacrosanct and infallible leadership and to the very integrity of the party.
They are seen as challenges which must be forcefully repelled, hence the language of war employed by Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar of no retreat, no surrender, which is more appropriate to the current circumstances of Ukraine than to the shenanigans of a listless political entity in Trinidad.
It is not known from what position retreat is to be repulsed, or to whom or what surrender must be denied.
In spite of declarations to the contrary, the Opposition is seen to be in continuous retreat in the face of the PNM’s parliamentary and non-parliamentary manoeuvres and all but surrendering in the quest for governmental power. It appears that the current PNM administration may retain control of the Government by default.
Then there is the unfortunate comparison with The Hulk, which cinema portrays as a figure ofincredible physical strength and overwhelming power. In contrast, our local self-proclaimed Hulk commands a weak and tenuous hold on the overall support base.
The modus operandi of an insecure leader is to stress the importance of loyalty, regardless hence the praise for a nondescript deputy political leader and the personal selection of the majority of MPs with minimal capacity for effective representation, possessing weak or non-existent parliamentary debating skills and little endearment to traditional and non-traditional electors.
The cushion of political comfort is supplemented by a dutiful matriarchy and a fawning brigade seeking favours and endorsements.
In T&T we are confronted with a situation of rampaging crime, a listless and underperforming economy generating few jobs and fewer investment opportunities, an explosion of poverty and destitution, the collapse of physical and social infrastructure, the paralysis and impotence of our critical national institutions, and a bruised and battered population (except, of course, for the well-to-do and the feteing brigade) in search of direction, leadership and hope.
In the face of this grim reality, we are confronted, on the one hand, with the cluelessness and inertia of a hopelessly failing, though arrogant and dismissive, administration; and, on the other, by the vacuousness of an Opposition incapable of meaningful discussion and debate or proffering credible alternative strategies, policies and priorities.
Trevor Sudama San Fernando