Friday, April 30, 2010


Okay. I admit up front that I do not have a "hotline" to Patrick Manning nor have I consulted the Oracle at Delphi, nor have I consulted any seer women (or men),so what follows is purely speculation on my part. But the words that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle put in the mouth of his great fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, have always stayed with me:

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible,
whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"
So, on that basis let's examine the possible reasons for calling the elections half way through a term when Manning had such a comfortable majority in the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago:

(Possible) Reason #1
Manning said that he called the election because the logical consequence of a no-confidence motion is that an election be called. So, he decided to give the Opposition what they wanted and has accordingly caught them by surprise and he will whip them at the polls.
I think that we can safely regard this as balderdash. And I don't think that any reader of this blog really needs an explanation as to why I say this.

(Possible) Reason #2
The economy is in serious trouble and harsh economic decisions are going to have to be made by September. For example, Petrotrin has an $18 billion dollar debt that it simply cannot repay. Accordingly, there are going to have to be massive lay-offs at the State owned oil firm ... some experts are predicting that at least half the work force is going to have to be sent home. Further, there is the CL Financial bailout to be considered. Word on the street is that this particular "black hole" is $47 billion deep. The exact position is difficult to ascertain because, quite frankly, there has been a dearth of information on this particular subject. But for those who pay attention, the recent high level resignations (Eurich Bob et al) are cause for raised eyebrows, if not outright concern. What was the real reason that these guys quit? Not very many people believe the reasons given. Also, the word is that there is a looming deficit that is even worse than the one that was predicted.
In these circumstances, the Prime Minister may well have realised that he would need a new mandate to govern. His moral authority to do so had already been badly damaged by the UDECOTT Commission of Enquiry and there was the very serious perception in the public mind that his government was corrupt. (Interestingly, to date corruption has not been a big issue on the Opposition campaign platforms).
So, it could well be that Manning called the election because he realised that his moral authority to govern had been seriously undermined by the UDECOTT fiasco and that without this authority he would be unable to hold things together when the harsh economic decisions that are coming down the pipeline have to be taken.

(Possible) Reason #3
Manning knew that he was going to lose the no-confidence debate. It was no secret that he and Dr. Keith Rowley were "at daggers drawn". It also does not take a political genius to realise that if Manning were to be "killed" (politically, of course ... this blog certainly does not advocate violence of any kind) tonight, Rowley will become the leader of the PNM tomorrow morning. The no-confidence motion was presenting Rowley with a really good chance to do away with the Prime Minister. The Opposition had 15 votes. Rowley's vote would make it 16. All that was needed was 5 more votes. Would Penny Beckles, for example, have sided with Rowley? She certainly had motivation to do so. Were there 4 more PNM M.P.'s? There is evidence to suggest that certain others might also have wanted to think about voting against the Prime Minister and had in fact lined up behind Rowley to do just that and that there were in fact 5 others who would line up with Rowley to vote against Manning and bring him down.
You must remember that the Motion was a motion against the Prime Minister and not the Government. If it had been carried Manning would have had 7 days to resign or call an election. If he had chosen not to resign but to call an election, his party would have probably revolted and thrown him out before the election and replaced him with Rowley. Either way, he was finished.
You must also remember that a Prime Minister is head of the National Security Council, and as such gets security reports on every thing that is going on that affects the security of both the State and his Government. If such a plot was afoot Manning would have got wind of it. That is for certain!

(Possible) Reason #4
The Americans told Manning that if he did not call an election that they would destabilise his regime. The Americans in fact destabilised the George Chambers regime way back in 1986 when they "cooked" the IMF's books and forced an unnecessary recession on Trinidad & Tobago. All that is now history and it is not relevant to this post as to why the Americans did that then. So, why would they want to interfere now? Because they have major economic and political interests in Trinidad & Tobago which could be seriously threatened if there was social unrest ... and all the signs were there that the country was heading for a serious period of social unrest (see Reason #2 above). The Manning Government had suffered serious body blows to its credibility and its moral authority to govern had been seriously undermined by various mis-steps (Calder Hart, UDECOTT, even the "$2 million flag", etc.). In the circumstances, the order was "call an election and we won't interfere. Don't call one and we will!"

As Conan Doyle so aptly said, "... when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."
Well, Trinidad and Tobago, what do you think?


  1. It could be a combination of reasons. It does not have to be one reason. Some combination of numbers 2 & 3 seems probable. But which 5 PNM MPs would have joined "Brutus?" Based on the fact that they were not chosen to return, I would speculate (since we're all speculating) that Roberts, Beckles, Joseph, Dumas, and Ojah-Maharaj were the gang of 5. Hunt and Taylor scored own goals and eliminated themselves, so I leave them out. What do you think?

  2. (Possible) Reason #2 is my choice... Property Tax big axe to the rescue...