Keith Rowley criticised the Sunday Express’ Lennox Grant last week for a column published last Sunday, stating Rowley’s plan to return to Patrick Manning’s “Vision 2020” shows the PNM (People’s National Movement) is “time-warped”.
Rowley told his supporters Grant is biased because of his politics. According to a story in the Guardian, Rowley described Grant as a “politician who once ran against the PNM and lost his deposit”.
He added, “He never mentions that. He writes as a scribe who speaks from a distant, impartial position, but I know he ran against the PNM. He had political aspirations and lost.”
But according to the Guardian, Rowley got his facts wrong.
This is what the paper wrote: “Grant in fact never ran for office. Many of his Tapia movement colleagues did and all lost their deposits in the 1976 and 1981 general elections but Grant worked as editor of the Tapia magazine and was not a candidate.
“Yesterday (Thursday), Grant, a former editor-in-chief of the T&T Guardian, confirmed he was never a politician and said: ‘There’s a book called Trinidad and Tobago: the Independence Experience 1962-87 by Selwyn Ryan, which lists every candidate that ran during that period. My name is not in it.’”
Perhaps Rowley should also look at the credentials of Guardian columnist Maxie Cuffie, who is speaking on Rowley’s platform these days. Cherry-picking is a bad thing. Grant and Maxie have the same right to freedom of speech, and all columnists are entitled to present their views, without people pouncing on them for political gain.
If we have freedom of speech, it must apply to all of us equally. And that means Grant and Maxie, me and anybody else.
But I have a question. Suppose Grant did run and lose as Rowley claimed? Does that forfeit his right to express a political opinion? Lloyd Best also ran and lost but until his death remained one of the more respected political commentators in our country.
Basdeo Panday also ran and lost in 1966 as a member of the Workers and Farmers Party and later became the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago. Today, he remains a respected political commentator. Kamla Persad-Bissessar also ran and lost (National Alliance for Reconstruction—1991, Siparia) and is today the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and her opinion is respected nationally and by leaders worldwide.
By Rowley’s logic, all of them should forfeit their right to criticise the PNM because they ran in elections against the PNM and lost. That kind of logic makes no sense but it’s coming from Rowley, so no one should be surprised.