Friday, December 15, 2017

Women will lead COP to victory

In Selwyn Ryan's Sunday column "PNMs long march", he disputes Michael Harris' view that the People's Partnership will win in a straight fight with the PNM. Ryan states "it all depends on the COP". I believe the PP, as now configured, will not last into the 2015 elections, and based on its performance to date, with its bi-weekly missteps, from Reshmi in its early days to Section 34 today, the PP may not be as attractive to the electorate as it was in May 2010,

The THA (Tobago House of Assembly) elections will be a gauge. Whatever the sins of Orville London, Ashworth Jack would have been a com- pelling attraction to Tobago electors were he able to point to meaningful PP achievements and performance indicators by his Trinidad partners.

To attract support in 2015, the COP (Congress of the People) must either distance itself from the UNC (United National Congress) or justify all Cabinet decisions it endorsed. COP leader Prakash Ramadhar has already "moved on" with Kamla after Section 34, leaving behind thousands who refused to move with him. COP followers will therefore be divided in 2015, and Ramadhar will be no lightning rod for an election campaign. Many of the 148,000 one-time COP supporters from 2007 have drifted away, including those who succumbed to "eat ah food" with the UNC, but thousands, neither PNM (People's National Movement) nor UNC, are still yearning for the vision of new politics which the COP had promised.

The hope for the COP in 2015 lies in identifying leaders with vision, leaders capable of articulating the core of the new politics which Dookeran had promised but was unable to deliver, leaders with the courage to seek what is right and not what is popular, with transparent and undisputed integrity, and free of tainted political baggage.

The world is increasingly realising that woman-power is a resource we cannot ignore, and the COP will bypass their women at its peril. Hulsie Bhagan and Wendy Lee Yuen should be encouraged to come forward, with COP-elected minister Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan at its chair, but her lights have been dimmed by her Cabinet position. Come election 2015, no COP light must hide under any UNC bushel.

I recall a period just months before the May 2010 election, Wendy Lee Yuen was speaking for the COP as its deputy political leader. Several media personnel revelled in her interviews, which were rational, forceful and well argued. Some judged her "too outspoken" and possibly overshadowing Dooks, and many believe her non-involvement in any meaningful Partnership role is not an oversight. Wendy Lee Yuen, in my view, should have a bigger role in the COP—not excluding its leadership.

Michael J Williams

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