Wednesday, July 10, 2013


I read a saying somewhere once that “the slightest suggestion for change always means death to some status quo”. This saying came back to me forcefully this last week as Jack Warner launched his Independent Liberal Party and the predictable reactions emerged from the two main political parties in Trinidad & Tobago. To be fair, the reactions from the PNM leadership have been more muted than those from the UNC, perhaps because the PNM knows full well that it’s young Indian candidate has as much chance of winning the Chaguanas West (CW) seat as a snowball has of surviving in Hell. The PNM’s poor sacrificial lamb of a candidate appears not to understand that he has absolutely no chance of winning the seat, or perhaps believes that throwing in with the PNM now will give him something later on when and if the PNM ever returns to the corridors of power; either way he is as dead politically as the proverbial duck. This fight is between Jack Warner and the UNC … and nobody else! The Prime Minister appears to be panicking as her attacks on Mr. Warner have become more shrill and defensive. Having thrown Mr. Warner “under the bus” a few months ago it is difficult to understand why she didn’t realise that this was a huge mistake on her part. She has made just about every mistake in the book from effectively calling Mr. Warner a crook to appealing to ethnicity and traditional tribal affiliations. But her biggest mistake is probably the same one she made a few short months ago when she entered into the fray in the Tobago House of Assembly elections. Instead of letting those elections be a strictly local or Tobagonian affair, she effectively made it, by her entry into that arena, a referendum on her government. The Tobagonian electorate reacted predictably and punished her by giving the PNM (who really deserved to lose if the campaign had been strictly local) a clean sweep of all twelve seats. Now she is entering into the fray again and attacking Mr. Warner at every chance she gets. Mr. Warner has refused, so far, to get into a slinging match with her. This by-election will be (amongst other things) a referendum on her Government. That's the last thing that she should want, especially as it looks as if she is going to lose ... and lose big time! Up to now, in our society, a deliberate break with the past has not been seen as potentially creative. Innovation is regarded as dangerous and subversive. Our society has always been highly suspicious of mass movements that throw off the restraints of traditions and the various status quos make it their goal to protect their followers from “political quackery”. Threatening of the old and established order is simply not allowed. Politics in Trinidad & Tobago has been, since 1956, a matter of cult and ritual rather than ideas; it is based on emotions not on ideology or consciously adopted theory or philosophy. This is not an unfamiliar attitude in our society; many of the people who support one party or the other are not interested in political philosophy and dislike the idea of change. They find that the traditional loyalties to the two main Parties give them a sense of security. They do not expect brilliant ideas from the leaderships and are disturbed by changes in the political rhetoric. In fact, when the political rhetoric departs from the norm they have great difficulty in knowing how to deal with these changes effectively. (Witness the Prime Minister’s ineffective responses to date to Mr. Warner’s challenge.) The old loyalties give them a sense of identity and a sense of security. And this is what makes Mr. Warner so dangerous. He has gone completely against the established order: a black man running in a predominantly Indian/Hindu constituency and looking like a runaway winner to boot! Never in our political history has this ever happened. Dr. Rowley doesn’t appear to have woken up to the very real threat that Mr. Warner’s ILP poses to the PNM. All he sees is the serious threat to the UNC. Well, he is going to be in for a most unpleasant surprise. After 29th July (the date of the by-election) expect Mr. Warner to train his guns on the East/West corridor and the extremely vulnerable PNM seats there. Mr. Warner will be able to say to the country words to the effect that ‘I am the face of the future. I am a black man who has won in an East Indian seat. The old politics are now dead. I am the new politics that the country has been yearning for’. And you know what? The country will probably buy him. The country is getting tired of the old racial divide and will embrace a new order. Of course, then it will be up to Mr. Warner to deliver. His honeymoon will be very short.


  1. Mr. Montano, you've done it again! You are absolutely right! I like the way you put things. Keep it up! I just wish that (as you put it) "the Leaderships" would listen to you!

  2. Very brilliantly written article. I would love to see more articles by you frequently though. I know your time is constrained but its just a suggestion.

  3. In your analysis of the Tobago elections you either missed or down played the fear factor. As a people, T&Tians, we have certain things that we hold sacred and these sometimes cloud our views and subsequent judgements.

    The people of Tobago were led to believe that should the TOP prevail in the elections their lands would be taken away and their way of life would be finished. The Calcutta boat was only the tip of the iceburg. And while Trinidadians getting into the affairs of Tobagonians could also have played a part I wonder which played the bigger role.