Thursday, March 14, 2013


There is only one reason for politics. It is the same and only reason for government: to make life better for the people. Period! There is no other reason!

It is vital that one keeps this in mind while discussing whether or not we should reform our Constitution, and if the consensus is that we should, then how we should go about it. Should we simply tinker with the present system? Is it working well, but just needs a little "tweaking" here and a little adjustment there? Bottom line: has it made life better for the people of Trinidad & Tobago? Could we have been better off if we had had another system? (Well, that last question is highly speculative, but I will still ask it for the sake of inclusion.) Could it/can it be improved upon? If so, how?

Winston Churchill once defined a Westminster type Parliamentary system as a dictatorship punctuated once every five years by three weeks of democracy.  You can readily understand his point when you realise that under our system of Government that a Prime Minister is not "primus inter pares" but simply "primus". He (or she) is the absolute boss and rules with great power. A Trinidadian type Prime Minister is more powerful inside his (or her) own country than an American type President is in his!

One of the biggest complaints that people have made since independence in 1962 is that they don't see their representatives except at election time. (Remember Churchill?!) And that is a complaint made by everybody on both sides of the political divide! And why does this happen? Because five years is a long time and the representatives know that there is no real necessity to dance attendance on their constituents all of the time. Their supporters usually vote for the political party in any case and not for the individual, so as long as their Party is popular and the M.P. sits in a "safe" seat (i.e., safe in that most voters in the particular seat vote for the particular Party) then the M.P. really doesn't have to work his seat all that hard. To be fair, there are exceptions to this generalisation and there are many hard working M.P.'s. But the truth also is that there are even more who "disappear" between elections and there are far too many M.P.'s who simply sit back and do little or nothing for their constituents. And this has always been so!!

Further, in between elections governments often ignore the electorate and are guilty of non-performance and/or trampling on the rights of citizens. These types of complaints are not new nor are they only being made today, but have been around since the 1962 Constitution.

So, the big question is: what can we do about this? Put another way, how do we, the people, get more control over the persons that we put into government so that we control them and not the other way around? Isn't it time that the dog starts to take control of its own tail again?

I have certain ideas which I will put forward, but I am deliberately not doing so now as I would prefer that readers of this blog think very carefully about the problems so that when we embark on a discussion of possible solutions that there will be no need to have a "back and forth" discussion but that we would all be "on the same page" in understanding and appreciating what exactly we are are trying to fix and why we think it needs fixing.

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