It is clear that Vernon De Lima wanted to resign from the post of vice-chairman on the COP executive, for, as an accomplished counsel, he must have known his motion would have failed. Must have. If your motion binds your party in the way that his did — either you do what we demand, Kamla, or the whole party will go — and if, in addition, you did not make sure to consult with your colleagues and garner enough support, then your motion was bound to fail. Bound to.
De Lima had to be certain that Jack Warner's unsuitability as a member of the Cabinet was an issue that enough of his colleagues felt so strongly about that they were prepared to stay in the government only if he was removed. He was not certain. But he went ahead with the motion nonetheless. He behaved as if he was a desperate man whose reason had deserted him, which seems untypical of him, so far as his public persona before then suggested. So I am surmising that he wanted to resign.
But why resign?
I am thinking that his disappointment with his party's inability to tame the UNC insensitivity and rampage is so great that he wanted to dramatise the Warner issue, keep it under the public gaze, and, perhaps, agitate more stoutly and freely off the COP executive. He is not a stupid man but he was a shackled one. I look forward to his expressions of liberation.
But, as COP political leader Prakash Ramadhar declared, the COP was in for the long haul. A majority of the electorate had voted the Partnership into office and the COP would keep faith with them and stay and try to fix things no matter what. De Lima's departure would therefore not change the price of cocoa.
And right there, we came into the understanding, if we didn't have it before, that there is no issue on which the COP would break away from the Partnership. Not the Marlene Coudray insult. Not the FIFA judgments about gross misconduct on the part of Warner. Not the manipulation of the legal process so that Galbaransingh and Ferguson could evade trial and walk.
Not the apparent abandonment of a legislation agenda that included procurements and a two-term limit for prime ministers. Not the prosecution of a naked ethnic agenda. Not even the violation of the various promises in the Fyzabad Accord.
According to Ramadhar, the COP will stay faithful to the electorate and soldier on.
But Ramadhar's sense of faithfulness notwithstanding, the biggest issue raised by the failure of De Lima's motion is not whether the COP would stay or leave but whether that party knows how to improve our democracy.
It clearly does not. Mere talk about transparency and truthfulness and integrity is pointless except it is tied to a fundamental change in governance structures. Good governance does not depend essentially on there being better people in the UNC or the COP or PNM. It depends rather on the expansion of meaningful participation of the people in the management of their affairs, community by community and constituency by constituency, after the vote. Such participation cannot occur if there are not constitutional structures that force the executive — that is, the Cabinet — to take heed of the people's voices in a true People's House.
But such structures are not in place. There is no structure to enable MPs or their constituencies to constrain the power of the Cabinet. There is no structure to enable NGOs, CBOs, or other kinds of groups to force debate of the people's issues in the House of Representative or to force development of communities in keeping with the wishes of those communities.
There is no structure to force the Prime Minister to fire Jack Warner!
The UNC cannot force the Prime Minister to fire Warner, not if they want to stay in power. The COP cannot force her to fire Warner; they simply do not have the power or the politics.
COP in, COP out, same khaki pants.
I think Vernon De Lima has begun to understand that.