Sunday, January 21, 2018

We don't want a cosmetic COP

On a recent TV programme Prof Hamid Ghany likened the People's Partnership to "a big tent with five tables where people are free to move around".

I like the analogy, but he might have added that the tables were different in size. All tables had bottled water, one had Crix and cheese, but the biggest table had the champagne and caviar, the ham and turkey, tempting desserts and exotic fruits galore. The charming hostess seemed to be beckoning to all "you can share with us at this table bring your chair and come". Everyone eyed the big table; one big mouth moved his chair over, and another quietly flirts between tables.

This is how many see the People's Partnership: the UNC calling all the shots, COP a useful but cosmetic appendage. Many COP supporters are bitterly disenchanted at their party's subsidiary role in the Partnership. Unlike the UNC and the PNM, both indelibly tarnished with the corruption brush from previous administrations, COP was seen as "clean".

Many Trinbagonians believed that COP's integrity would be an integral component in the emerging Partnership to give T&T fresh hope, but many now fear that COP has been compromised.

COP had called for Jack Warner to step aside pending his exoneration from the FIFA accusations, yet COP ministers still sit alongside him in the Cabinet to "eat ah food", including the founder of "new politics".

If Marlene Coudray's position is correct that she was a UNC nominee for Mayor of San Fernando, her loyalty to that party must be recognised, notwithstanding any agreement at Fyzabad. But shortly we will witness the futility of Minister Prakash Ramadhar's threat to leave the Partnership unless Ms Coudray is replaced by a COP mayor in San Fernando.

All the food is on the UNC table; the glue holding the Partnership together is neither principle nor affection and the cost of principle is financial independence; but few can afford to walk away from their ministerial salaries. Anil Roberts has already declared his position, while "Dooks" is indecisive.

My hope for COP is that in the next election (if the Partnership lasts the full term) it could negotiate for and win the seats where its support in 2007 was greater than the UNC's. COP must not remain a cosmetic partner to the UNC in an abusive relationship. COP and UNC together must have control of government; but if UNC can get by on its own, I would advocate that COP be part of the opposition.

Michael J Williams

Maracas Valley