Monday, November 1, 2010


The short answer to the above question is a definite 'yes'! President Obama came to power in the November 2008 Presidential elections preaching change (sound familiar?). The American electorate was war weary and justifiably terrified at the economic precipice that their country (and the world) was falling into. They were looking for new leadership, a new direction, and above all, hope that Obama would "deliver them from evil".

Enter Kamla Persad-Bissessar at the beginning of this year with a very similar message to a Trinidadian/Tobagonian electorate that was simply fed up with the leaders of both of the main political parties. The electorate basically felt that the leadership of both the PNM and the UNC was arrogant and out of touch with their needs, wants and desires. If you had asked almost anybody of whatever race, creed or religion in the street this time last year whether he thought that either Manning or Panday genuinely cared for him and his family you would have been met with a resounding 'NO'! And it wouldn't have stopped there. If you had asked whether either of the two leaders had his feet on the ground, his finger on the pulse of what was going on, again you would have got a shouted 'NO'. (Nobody was really taking any notice of the COP which was whithering on the political vine until Kamla handed them a lifeline.) It was therefore (especially in retrospect) hardly surprising that Mrs. Persad-Bissessar's message of hope and change would resonate so resoundingly in the country or that she would win so convincingly in the May election.

People were worried about almost everything: Crime, the economy, their future, corruption! You name the problem and you would have found a sizable segment of the population concerned about the particular issue.

But the new Government has now had some five months "to settle" and you are beginning to hear concerns that nothing is happening. Everything seems to be at a standstill and there is a lack of direction ... a lack of leadership that is disturbing to say the least. And most of it is emanating from a lack of movement in the economy. The banks are reporting that borrowing is way down and that everybody is in a 'wait and see mode'. The budget that was presented in September was long on rhetoric but very short on specifics, and the failure to get the new State boards up and running has crippled many businesses who are depending on getting paid monies that are now long overdue. Real estate values are declining by the week and the 'engine of growth' that has traditionally been the government seems to be in the repair shop for an unduly long length of time.

Like most people I voted for the People's Partnership. Like most people I genuinely want them to succeed. Unfortunately, like most people I am now beginning to become concerned. The appearance or perception is that they do not have their act together, that they do not understand the basics of governance. I genuinely hope that this is not so. I do not want them to fail. It is not in this country's interest that they fail. On the contrary, it is in all of our interests that they succeed. But if they continue in the direction that they are heading they are going to find (as Obama is now finding) that the people who supported them and voted for them will turn against them as sure as night follows day.

What is causing the "dithering" (for want of a better word) is not yet in the public domain ... although we are all hearing the rumours which are daily gaining strength as well as credibility. And the "boys" ought to be aware that effective opposition to a government rarely comes from within the Parliament ... it usually comes from outside. Therfore they should not count on the fact that Keith Rowley is proving himself to be an ineffective opposition leader. Dr. Rowley's lack of leadership potential will not save them. Nature abhors a vacuum, and the same can also be said about politics. In fact, the lack of a credible alternative often leads to greater instability.

Let me repeat: It is in our collective interest that this Government succeed. But they need to get the message early, rather than late, that they have to "get off the pot" and begin performing. Their honeymoon is over. And they have only to look at the U.S.A. to see what can happen when you don't deliver on your promises!

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