Wednesday, March 28, 2012


You must admit that life in Triniwonderland is always exciting and interesting. The powers that be (on all sides of tke political fence) are clearly determined that no matter what, they will keep us entertained and looking at the evening news to discover the latest machinations in the ongoing and never ending novella. The latest bit of "excitement" to hit the airways and the print media is, of course, the defection of San Fernando Mayor Marlene Coudray from the ranks of the COP and her election as a Deputy Political Leader of the very senior partner the UNC (in fact, the only political entity that really counts in that partnership) of the People's Partnership (PP) Government.

The Chairman of the COP cried 'foul' when the news broke that she was running for election as a Deputy Political Leader in the UNC and accused the UNC of 'poaching'! The hurt was even greater when it was realised that in order to run for office in the National Executive of the UNC that one has to be a member for at least 12 months! When did Ms. Coudray resign, was the question? And the other question, almost pleadingly and pathetically was, why didn't you tell us?

Most people (whether she did resign a year ago or not) do not believe that Ms. Coudray resigned a year ago. Frankly, although it is entirely possible that she did and that she is telling the truth when she says that she joined the UNC a year ago, it just doesn't have that 'ring' that would convince a reasonable person that such an outspoken person, as Ms. Coudray is known to be, would not have told the world as to what she was doing when she was doing it. Not to have done so is entirely plausible ... it's just out of character, and that is what most people have a problem with. But to prove that she is not telling the truth on this is just about impossible. It all boils down to what you believe and as to how important you think that this particular question is!

For my part, I see the question as to when she joined important only as to whether or not from her answer one could judge whether or not Ms. Coudray is a truthful person or is one who will bend the truth when it is convenient to her. And that is for us as individuals to come to our own conclusions.

The more important issue, for me at least, is what the move signals. A lot of people think that it is really a move by the UNC to prepare a challenge for the San Fernando West seat currently held by Caolyn Seepersad Bachan of the COP. Ms. Bachan is reputed to be quite unpopular with her constituents and the UNC hierarchy clearly must feel that this seat which has a large COP voter contingent could fall its way with the right candidate. Enter Marlene Coudray! In other words, the UNC is moving to take over the COP support in San Fernando West.

But Prakash Ramadar now has a very serious problem. He clearly doesn't want to give up his ministerial office ... even if he is currently 'low man on the totem pole' ... and appears almost desperate not to walk out of the Partnership. On the other hand, his chairman, Joseph Toney, who hasn't shared at all in the 'spoils' of office, seems determined to push the COP to leave the Partnership. In addition, the UNC moves clearly show that they understand that the COP support is critical to a victory at the polls and they are moving to undercut the COP at every chance that they can get. Mr. Ramadar has said on national television that Ms. Coudray must now resign as San Fernando mayor as that post was promised to the COP in the Fyzabad accord signed by the political parties that make up the PP. My bet is that the Devil will sooner turn down the furnaces in hell than the UNC will agree to that demand! But you have to admit that it sounds good on television! What he will do when the UNC and Ms. Coudray refuse (and they will, either by word, deed or both) is, of course, another question. He (Mr. Ramadar) is damned if he does leave the Partnership and damned if he doesn't. His choices aren't 'pretty'.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, former COP leader Winston Dookeran is reputed to have a very lucrative job offer based in Barbados from the Inter American Development Bank which he would like to take up. The problem with that is his seat ... Tunapuna ... which is possibly and arguably the most marginal of all the marginal seats in the country. Most political pundits believe that if there was a by-election in Tunapuna today that the PNM would win it. Assuming (though obviusly not accepting) that this is true, then such a defeat would bolster the embattled Keith Rowley who is widely perceived to be a loser. A victory in Tunapuna would do a lot to turn this perception around and could well be a harbinger of doom for the PP.

So, what will Dookeran do? Will he use 'the Coudray affair' to quit the Government on "principle"? And will Ramadar follow him into exile and certain defeat when an election finally comes? The COP boys (and girls) have a lot of soul searching to do and a lot of hard decisions to make. One thing is certain though: the UNC boys (and girls) couldn't care less about the internal problems of their very, very junior partner. This, they have made abundantly clear. Mr. Ramadar and his COP colleagues are in a trap that in order to get out of, will require a political agility that so far has been patently lacking in everything that they have done or attempted to do. The COP leadership has been (and is being) discredited to an extent where it is doubtful that it can command the vote that it once had. This doesn't mean that that vote is lost; it's just parked and waiting ... but not for the COP!

Life in the Tropics continues!

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