With the multiple perspectives emerging on the current Constitution (Amendment) Bill one of greatest significance to me was the stance taken by Winston Dookeran and Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan in daring to vote against the Government’s position. With all the talk about a “conscience’’ vote the unwritten sacred duty on both sides is to support the respective positions of their parties, with an understanding that if you do otherwise you would have virtually sealed your doom.
Of course I think the Prime Minister should be commended for taking the unprecedented step to offer members the option to vote according to their conscience, although the cynic in me makes me see it as a good political strategy to counter the many dissenting voices regarding this bill.
I think too, that she would have quietly expected all in the Government to support the bill, for the tradition has been for members not to openly show dissent, and those in the political domain are yet to demonstrate that character that would allow them to be self-sacrificial in standing up for a position that they truly believe in, even though it may be different from the Government’s. It is pitiful watching some of the honourable members being less than honourable in giving support to positions that are clearly untenable.
In one instance, the newly elected leader of a party has dared to support the Government’s position when his party’s position was not to, claiming that it is his “conscience” vote although he has no qualms of conscience of going against a consensual position of which he was a part. It is for this reason that Winston and Carolyn stand tall for they dared to take a position based on the need for greater consultation, inter alia, which without question will be to their detriment politically, but their stance is a ray of light in the darkness of political dissembling that surrounds us.
Dr Errol Benjamin