Political analyst calls it a foolish move
Foolish political rhetoric!
That's how political scientist Derek Ramsamooj yesterday described the declaration by St Joseph MP and former justice minister Herbert Volney that he was an "independent UNC MP" and therefore has withdrawn himself from the People's Partnership whip.
"You are either a UNC MP or you are not. And if you have contested under a UNC ticket and now you have a different position, then you should do the honourable thing and resign," Ramsamooj stated.
Ramsamooj said the dismissal of Volney as justice minister meant that he joined Collin Partap as a member of Parliament without portfolio. But Ramsamooj stressed that individuals like that must still subscribe to the authority of their chief whip. "And if you remove yourself from the authority of chief whip, then you have practically removed yourself from the authority of the political party."
Ramsamooj also told the Express that within the Westminster parliamentary system, which is comprised of members of Parliament who represented particular institutions at the polls, there was no such category as an "independent UNC". "You are a member of the UNC who is now on the backbench but you must adhere to the party whip who happens to also be the UNC deputy political leader.
"Mr Volney's statement about removing himself from the People's Partnership whip does not apply," Ramsamooj said. "That statement is inaccurate because there is no People's Partnership Whip."
In Trinidad and Tobago there is a coalition government comprising different political parties –the UNC, COP and TOP. Individuals ran on a UNC ticket, COP ticket or TOP ticket, he said, adding that Dr Roodal Moonilal was afforded the position of Chief Whip (Leader of Government Business) in the arrangement.
Questioned about former MPs Gillian Lucky and Fuad Khan who are also defined as "independent UNC MPs", Ramsamooj said: "What transpired previously does not present a justifiable precedent. What was incorrect then cannot be right now."
He said he did not think there was such a thing as a People's Partnership caucus, but rather a caucus of government MPs.
"The People's Partnership was a term used in the political campaign. There is nothing called a People's Partnership party, nor a People's Partnership member of Parliament. That was the imagery given to the coalition arrangement," he said.
Ramsamooj said what was of greater significance were the public utterances of Volney, who claims to have been ill-treated by the political leader of the UNC.
He said also important was the fact that Volney was still to account to the people of Trinidad and Tobago as to the reasons that stimulated or defined his political action with respect to Section 34 (Administration of Justice) Act.
Meanwhile, the PNM St Joseph constituency executive held its annual conference last Saturday and the the new executive passed a resolution calling for Volney to resign as the member of Parliament for St Joseph.