The ILP launched its local government election campaign on Saturday last, and the leadership must have been ecstatic about the response which it received. The crowd was genuinely mixed in terms of race, class, gender, and age, and Warner was justified in his brag that a new era seems to have been born. There are however many hard questions which have to be answered before any judgement about its prospects could be offered.
The star performer of the evening was undoubtedly Lyndira Oudit who cleverly muckraked the UNC leadership in terms that must have made them squirm. Like many, she had heard the allegations of wanton corruption and cronyism which she said she hoped were not true. The crowd however understood her to be saying that she believed that the allegations were true, but that she was using an oratorical device to make her point. As she remarked, inter alia, “I have heard of persons suddenly having business in Canada, China and even Panama. Suddenly found wealth!” Oudit told the crowd that she could no longer associate with elements who were “arrogant, spiteful, lazy, and neglectful”.
If Oudit left the crowd with a modicum of doubt as to whether her accusations had substance, Warner was brutally outspoken.
His allegation was that the UNC was a kleptocracy, and that the cancerous corruption had metastasized. As he said subsequently, “Information comes to me in droves, and it is not good.”
Warner was of course aware that he had many questions to answer in terms of his association with FIFA, CONCACAF and the US government and that he had a great deal of explaining to do before he could be deemed fit to govern.
He also had to explain his seeming silence while certain deals were being made in the Cabinet of which he had been a member for three years. There was also the problem of the “new Flying Squad”, the fire truck and reports of procurement deals made in respect of the highway.
Jack’s incredible response to the questioning Thomases was to apologise to the people for what he had unwittingly facilitated. His apologia needs to be recorded in full: it is clearly one for the books. To quote Jack: “The things I know now, I did not know before. The corrupt practices which takes place now I never expected. Look at the delivery ministers and tell me at our next meeting what they all have in common. How can I ever forgive myself for allowing myself to be tricked, to be used and even to be abused! When you voted for the People’s Partnership in 2010, you voted to remove tweedledum. Today you have tweedledee. I ask for your forgiveness tonight for I did not know that a cabal was being planned to rape this country’s Treasury!”
Jack did not even bother to plead that he was constrained by the doctrine of collective responsibility since he would certainly have been asked just when he learnt about the peculation that prevailed. He might also have been asked why he did not resign when he found out what they were doing. He likewise would also have been asked to explain why he sought to remain in the UNC both before and after he was revalidated by the electorate, and also to join the discredited partnership.
Jack’s behaviour reminds me of that which characterises sociopaths who know how to seduce their victims into believing that one can cure gangrene with lavender water. Surely, he could not believe that he could get away with such a limp explanation! He must have assumed that his followers are aware of his “guilt” and are supporting him in spite of his record. There seems to be a tacit conspiracy on the part of many to “let yesterday remain yesterday”.
People seem to be tired and fed up with the established options but are in dire need of an alternative. They are thus willing to buy Warner’s con even though they are fully aware that risks were involved in doing so. Performance and effective representation seem to have displaced white collar crime as the preferred public good.
Turning next to the question as to whether local government elections would be held in October this year, my own feeling is that the Prime Minister would be well advised to schedule them as promised. To postpone them is to give the ILP a “casus belli”, which would back fire and cause a firestorm of protest. The ILP would use postponement in the same way that Dr Williams and the PNM used postponement in 1955 as a springboard to political power in 1956.
There is also the critical question as to whether the Orpington case is relevant here.
Some of us recall the case of Orpington in a UK by-election which was won by the Liberal Party.
The Liberals believed that the Conservatives would lose when general elections were held across the UK.
When these elections were eventually held, Orpington was recaptured by the Conservatives.
What happened was that the Orpington voters wanted to send a message to the Conservative party and thought that they could do so without losing control of the Government, which is what might have happened on July 29, 2013. Voting for the Liberals was electorally costless.
ILP voters were merely being prodigal on July 29 and many may go back home when future elections are called.