Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tumultuous broils


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Perhaps it is appropriate to thank my editor and my readers for their indulgence in accepting periodic two-week breaks in the publication of this column owing to my several travel commitments this year.

In the two weeks preceding today our country has been in a more tumultuous state than ever and I continue to be worried about the attendant instability and outrage at the lack of objective justice and fair dealing pervading so much of what is going on. The traffic lights at dangerous intersection of legal matters and politics are repeatedly being broken and (with acknowledgement of Shakespeare's Henry VI) much legal and political poison is being hidden with sugared words.

The plot of the Henry VI drama concerns politics and the struggle for power between the Houses of York and Lancaster replete with witch hunts, forced resignations, an arranged marriage and nepotistic liaisons and alliances made to advance personal and family interests.

Some of the above are reflected in the highlights of the past and very crowded two weeks such as allegations of a Sashagate, Jack Warner and FIFA parting company and the Cabinet reshuffle.

Of the reshuffle it may be said in doggerel, that is loosely or irregular comic lines, arranged by reference to Henry VI: Now we have a period of tumultuous broils. Away with Nan and Cornelis to foreign straight. For Jack Warner in FIFA punishment corner, off with half his head. For Panday the younger, off with his whole head. Bring back Verna but assuredly stifle her. Of Patrick Watson a beauty queen we cannot make so dyered he is. Go bear the COP hence. We will not hear them speak. Let Carolyn weep.

A brilliant legal colleague of the English Bar once epitomised something as so obvious that even "a moron in a hurry" would recognise it. So it is in respect of the extended protection which the UNC Government, now effectively rid of its COP partner, gives to its own. A bobolee in a hurry would note only mirage change at the Caribbean Airlines Board.

It is equally obvious that Reshmi was a pawn in a high stakes game to place a pliable trusty in the centre of intelligence gathering and to create a capability to macco political opponents and perceived dissidents larger than Manning was alleged to have. The plan failed and we need an assurance that none of Reshmi's backers are still lurking in the corridors of power rather than a dissertation on whether we have effective laws governing the use of cyberspace or an examination of contracts of employment. It is contact not contract that is the source of the Government's problems with governance.

Henry VI is famous for the rebels' exhortation to first kill all the lawyers but that does not blunt my interest in it. In the drama, Suffolk and Gloucester vie for influence over the king and Gloucester uses his wife for the purpose. In Kamlacourt the courtiers and acolytes seem to be firmly in control and the political cost for an otherwise capable leader will ultimately be high if she is seen to perpetuate double standards instead of the more transparent governance she promised us.

A boobolee in a hurry would probably stop dead in his tracks when confronted with the ridiculous assertion by a principal acolyte that the media confronting the Prime Minister when she is out and about for answers on the alleged activities of her hired help and other hot matters is a security risk. This is the same Prime Minster who personally ordered that the media be given room when she emerged from her swearing in.

In my last column I had said that it would likely be required of Jack Warner that he part company with stinky FIFA, as I called it, but the choice was forced upon him and no matter what is spun about his resignation he had to take in front. The British newspapers gleefully reported that a "scalp had been taken" and asserted that Mr Warner's resignation was inevitable if he wanted to remain a Minister in the Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago.

The interesting political question which arises from Mr Warner's resignation is this: Shorn of his FIFA locks will he be able to remain a Sampson holding up the UNC temple? His political leader has already re-measured him to his disadvantage by cutting his Ministry in half.

The reshuffle settles nothing. Much of the energy of members of this Government will continue to be dissipated in plotting personal advancement and how best to damage political rivals within their own ranks, way beyond the machinations normally necessary in the twisty game of politics. I discovered recently that there is a board game about politics called Wreck the Nation. Let' hope that the split PNM and gravely fractured People's Partnership are not both playing it.