Tuesday, February 20, 2018

As the bell tolls

Over the next 12 months the citizenry will witness, perhaps not for the first time, the two major political parties fighting to the finish in order to secure the popular vote in the next general election.

The Prime Minister has already stated categorically, that unlike what happened with her predecessor Patrick Manning, there will be no election called before its time.

Neither the People’s Partnership nor the People’s National Movement can take victory for granted, although many argue that the writing is very clearly written on the wall about the political future of the Partnership.

There is no doubt that the PM continues to be a favourite with the population and her humble acceptance of the most recent poll giving her a 48 per cent approval rating, which is an increase from the previous two years, is indicative that she is not a contender to be easily written off.

Although her stars may not be shining as brightly as they did in May 2010, there is no denying that their alignment has not gone completely off, and with luck on her side, she may well have what it takes to get things back in order. Undoubtedly, that is the message being whispered to the PM by her trusted inner circle.

The members of the elite group which surround the PM, making her inaccessible to those who wish to tell her the truth about what is currently the pulse of the people, refuse to acknowledge that while their leader is still a popular figure, her government is not held in high regard.

And the support for the PM and not her Cabinet may cost her victory. A challenge for the PM is that these deadweights hang desperately to her coattails recognising that without her support, they will sink to the bottom of the political ocean.

But the PM is an astute politician with decades of experience and there is still time for her to dump those who are bringing her government down.

An important matter which the PM can hardly ignore is that Dr Keith Rowley, the leader of the PNM, has an extremely close approval rating of 47 per cent.

The Leader of the Opposition is viewed as a heavyweight contender and after retaining the top position in his party, will undoubtedly continue to highlight the alleged improprieties of this administration, with the use of footage if available.

While the PM will be seeking to distance herself from those in her Government who are political embarrassments and liabilities, Dr Rowley will be promoting poor governance caused directly by the PM’s unsuitable choices.

There will be a political tit-for-tat and the country will not be starved for scandals involving alleged ministerial wrongdoings.

We can expect enhanced delivery of campaign promises and reminders, through all media available, of all the good work that the Partnership Government has done.

Yesterday, in a television interview, a Government minister indicated that one of the deficiencies of this regime is that it has not properly and effectively communicated to the country all its achievements.

I disagree with his position because if there is one thing for which this government has proven itself capable, it is the ability to blast its message of performance using all available media.

What this regime has been unable to do, however, is address the matter of low detection rates in serious criminal activity and remove the deepening strain of corruption in its affairs.

A bright light seems to be beaming from the Minister of National Security Gary Griffith who is taking on the task of fighting crime with a no-nonsense approach. The success of his initiatives will be determined over the next few months. But this country has been battered by regime after regime and the trend is that the population votes a government “out’’ as opposed to voting a regime “in’’ to office.

The COP still considers itself a force to be reckoned with in determining the outcome of the next general election. Should this be the case, then it is incumbent on the COP to prove that it is really the internal watchdog for accountability and transparency in governance that it promised to be. So far, it has been failing repeatedly in its self-promoted mandate and restoring Minister Dookeran to the helm may be too little, too late.

The bell has tolled, the race has begun.