Louis Lee Sing is a PNM member and former mayor of Port of Spain. Following is the second in a series of four articles by Mr Lee Sing which speak to issues within the PNM.
Too many have asked the question and continue to ask why is Penny Beckles-Robinson contesting the election for Political Leader at this time?
Others continue to query why is the People’s National Movement (PNM) engaging in elections at this time?
Why elections in the PNM at this time?
Several people I have spoken to in recent times have indicated that they consider the challenge by Pennelope Beckles-Robinson to the political leader to be inappropriate and badly timed. They have arrived at these positions against a backdrop of general elections being just one year away and internal elections on a one man one vote basis have the capacity to divide the country.
The facts however must be stated:
Mrs Beckles-Robinson did not call the elections — Dr Rowley did.
Since Dr Rowley, the PNM political leader has not vacated office and internal elections are not due until 2015, why did Dr Rowley call elections at this time?
Why did he do like Mr Manning and lay down the gauntlet and invite any and all challengers before the elections were due?
On the other hand, Mrs Beckles-Robinson has always said that she was loyal to the PNM and its leader and would only contest when there was a vacancy. And that is what democracy is about.
Perhaps the following may assist us in understanding why Dr Rowley called this election at this time.
There are a number of possible reasons why Dr Rowley called early elections within the party.
First he wanted to excise the ghost of Mr Manning and cement himself in the position of leader. Put another way; ensure that the party was aligned behind only one leader.
Second, following from one above, he would have started the 2015 general election campaign early and raised his profile in the public domain. A win would virtually ensure a triumphant march to the office of prime minister.
Third, always insecure in the position of political leader, he wanted to flush out any potential rivals before they became strong enough to challenge him. Enter his mouthpiece Fitzgerald Hinds to articulate his deepest fear, that he was “too black” to be prime minister and enrage the party faithful.
Fourth, whilst he has given up his veto over the selection of candidates for the General Election, by pushing his slate which consists of a sorry bunch of yes men, he would have complete control in the selection of candidates for the 2015 elections.
Lennox Grant got it right if for the wrong reasons when he said that Dr Rowley was no different from Patrick Manning. The point he missed is he may be much worse.
As the date draws nearer, party members are standing on each other’s shoulders to shout to Rowley: “Look me here—I am with you”, because that is how the PNM has always been.
From Eric Williams to Manning, and now to Rowley, it is not about the Party, but about the Leader. Except of course for the brief period under prime minister Chambers, the PNM has always been about the leader and not the party.
So the party will continue to bleed the new colour that the present leadership has chosen for Balisier House as it attempts to destroy the image of Jurassic Park.
Notwithstanding who wins, the only real loser will be the rank and file of a party for whom the leadership shows little to no respect.
This is the season of internal elections and no one has to pay for anything. It is free rum, free pelau, and free entrance to the polls. In PNM Country—everything is free!
Stay tuned for more on freeness.
Tomorrow: Party dues and PNM elections