By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
December 10, 2019
In May I met Esmond Forde, the parliamentary representative of Tunapuna, at the “dead house” of a respected villager. I told him that from what I heard and saw the PNM will lose the Tunapuna seat in the next general election. He disagreed and assured me that Indians in the constituency would support him so he was not worried. I wonder if he was surprised that UNC won the Tacarigua, Paradise, Caura seat in the local election.
Oskie is my best friend. Later that month, at the North Coast Jazz Festival, I told him the PNM will lose the next general election. He got mad and asked what did I know? He insisted the UNC could never beat the PNM. I didn’t argue with him. All I told him, and it still remains my response, “Let’s wait and see.”
I was not surprised by the results of the local election. The PNM has lost touch with its members on the ground and does not listen to their concerns. It feels money alone can win an election. On August 25, I wrote: “It used to be that you couldn’t beat the PNM when it came to election strategy and campaigning. We may have to reconsider this truism. This time the PNM might be sleep-walking into an unpleasant election defeat” (Express).
From about 2013 to 2017 the people of Tacarigua, Caura and Dinsley fought a dogged battle against the UNC government to prevent it from building a stadium on the Orange Grove (Eddie Hart) Savannah. Under the leadership of Carol James and Ulric “Buggie” Haynes, our village idol, we defeated the state and prevented it from desecrating our land.
The judge ruled that nothing should be built on that land without parliamentary approval. We wanted to keep the space green (we called ourselves the “Green Space Committee”) and hoped to make it a historic site and holy place. However, before we could say “Jack Robinson,” the Tunapuna- Piarco Corporation (TPRC) extended the paved area on the southwestern part of the savannah and converted it into a food court.
On November 29, a trashbin titled “An Eddie Hard Food Village” was installed on the grassy side of the savannah which gives rise to the speculation that the TPRC is/might be thinking of converting that space into a food court or even extending the present food court. A mature healthy tree at the perimeter of the car park was cut down to make way for whatever the TPRC has in mind.
In 2013 one of the arguments I made in defense of keeping this space green sacred is that the savannah is a natural water table from which as many as 250,000 people receive their water supply. There are twelve pumps on the site that assure a constant supply of water. If this area is paved, the water will run off and will be lost rather than collected by the water table. In his ruling the judge cited information I had given in my booklet Preserving the Tacarigua Savannah.
This judge’s ruling does not matter to the TPRC or the PNM. The politicians know best. They do not consult their constituents, follow the law, or listen to their voices. They only listen to the wishes of the moneyed class, which is one reason why the PNM lost the local election.
The money bags believe if they swamp the airways with ads the unthinking plebs will go to the polls and vote for the PNM. They believe that they could cuss UNC-call them evil-bring out their cocoyea brooms, and rid the country of its ideas. They forget that Indo-Trinbagonians are the country’s largest ethnic group and their number continues to grow. The Afro-Trinbagonian group remains static.
Dr. Williams and the early PNM selected their leaders on the basis of a delegate system. Contrariwise, Dr. Rowley changed the system to a one-man one-vote system. That sounded like progress and modernity. But it transferred the power of the party from the ordinary members into the hands of the moneyed class. The party may want to reconsider this policy.
Today, a poor boy or girl from La Brea, Toco or Caroni can never hope to lead the PNM. No matter how brilliant, if s/he does not have the necessary finance to support his candidacy he can never become the leader of the party. As was demonstrated at this local election, the PNM bought out all the television and radio spots, leaving any competitor to rely on social media to promote his campaign. That, on reflection, may be a more effective election strategy.
Many of my neighbors were turned off by the obscene amount of money that PNM spent on the campaign. Many of them didn’t bother to vote. It was like a big concert: plenty money spent but few people came to the dance. This might account for Aaron Thomas’s loss in the area.
The PNM must return to its roots. If it does not tell people what it has accomplished and what it intends to do for them, particularly black people, they will be defeated in the next general election. A party that deliberately ignores its constituents’ wishes cannot ask them to place its members in Parliament to represent their interests. These are contradictory demands.
PNM’s character has changed so drastically that many of its faithful followers do not recognize it. The power of financial capital has replaced the dependability of social capital and filial love. The party leaders should remember that money does not always buy you love, nor for that matter, even votes.
7 thoughts on “Money Does Not Always Buy You Love”
Selwyn Cudjoe is playing the fool again. Now that Persad-Bissessar managed to lose only 65 to 74 in the elected members of the LGE and eked out a small victory in one of the Sangre Grande seats thus breaking the draw of 2016, Cudjoe can’t conceal his excitement. Oh, Persad-Bissessar is going to win in 2020. When the same Persad-Bissessar was losing like nobody ever did before in politics, Cudjoe was there to exhort the UNC and encourage their leader. He wrote a series of articles exhorting and encouraging the UNC. Now that the UNC has lost 65 to 74 PNM Councillors, but has 7 corporations to the PNM seven (a draw is not a win), he can’t contain himself. Cudjoe pretending to give advice to the PNM but really trying to demoralize PNM people is on his mission again, doing his best to ensure the UNC and Persad-Bissessar win the GE in 2020. Well they wouldn’t. So deal with it.
The UNC is like Trump Republican party, no matter what the leader does, no matter how destructive to their country, they are going to vote UNC. The leader could thief out the Treasury, destroy the economy, leave T&T bankrupt, they are still going to vote UNC and they are going to go out in their numbers. Much of that passion has to do with hate, they hated Dr. Williams and they hated his lifelong struggle for his people, the people of T&T. The science of politics these days has to do with two things – increasing the level of tribal attachment to one party and decreasing the voter turnout of the other. The 2020 election in America is calculated nowadays on those two indices. The politics is based on the attempt to increase one factor and decrease the other. Same here in T&T. Cambridge Analytica did pioneering studies in that science using T&T as its laboratory. Suffice to say political science knows how to depress the vote of some people. Let us become conscious of these strategies and not become manipulated by them. In America being conscious of how you can be manipulated by the media and others is called being “woke”. We also have to become conscious and “woke” here in T&T.
Cudjoe’s strategy here is wilful and obvious. Nothing stimulates PNM supporters more than the fear of losing power.
This strategy is designed to bring out the vote and rally the forces for the general election.
Cudjoe knows exactly what he is doing in this article. Pnm supporters are not willing to be marginalized by a UNC government. They are more comfortable with the marginalization of UNC supporters who have been oppressed and neglected since Independence.
Cudjoe says “Money does not always buy you love”, but remember what the Mighty Sparrow, another Birdie, said in his great calypso “No money, no love”:
Ivy pack up she clothes to leave
Because John was down and out
All alone he was left to grieve
She had a next man in South
She said openly
I really love you Johnny
But you ain’t have no money
So what will my future be
Even though you love me?
We can’t love without money
We can’t make love on hungry belly
Johhny you’ll be the only one I’m dreaming of
You’re my turtle dove
But no money no love
If you hear how he plead with she to get she to understand
Listen, mister, she tell Johnny
Leggo me blasted hand
And make up your mind
We got to break up this lime
She said poverty is a crime
You got no money
Still you tanglin’ me all the blinkin’ time
Gentleman let me tell you plain
She say I don’t want to make a scene
But if you only touch me again
The police will intervene
You ain’t got a cent
I couldn’t even pay me rent
I had to give up me apartment
You give me nothing to eat
Now you want me to sleep on the pavement?
The PNM will make sure you don’t sleep on the pavement, the PNM will make sure you don’t have a hungry belly, the PNM will make sure you don’t live in poverty, because the PNM cares for you. Johnny and Cudjoe only have empty words, tell them “no money no love”.
“Today, a poor boy or girl from La Brea, Toco or Caroni can never hope to lead the PNM“
The PNM is an urban party. If one were to look at the LGE map they only won in urban areas, not in all urban areas.
Kamla planted rice and therefore is the most qualified Indian to lead the UNC. Knife and fork indians like Vasant and Caroline cannot lead anything.
The PNM is the Opposite, Rowley Tobagonian, Faris Bagdadi, Imbert Antiguan… To lead the PNM you have to be an urbanite or a foreigner. Black folks are better managed when you give them real hell. They love you more. These leaders know that, they tax and tax, fire a whole lot, behave like wajang, shut down the refinery, cut foreign currency drastically to the ordinary Trini. Come election they go vote PNM.
UNC supporters are not patient like PNM supporters, you don’t deliver is real hell and even when you do deliver they vote you out. Sad isn’t it.
“The PNM must return to its roots. If it does not tell people what it has accomplished and what it intends to do for them, particularly black people, they will be defeated in the next general election.”
I don’t often get embroiled in party politics but from what I know of the the PNM (which many deemed as the African party), it has discipline and a definite strategy for good governance. The UNC on the other hand prides itself on telling people what it can do for them but does very little to advance infrastructural development. It (the UNC) takes care of its base while the PNM takes care of everyone (without regard to base). One only has to look at national structures to identify with which party built them. The Financial Centre, the RED HOUSE, Whitehall, the football stadiums etc etc etc. We, at the same time, have become less nationalistic and more ethnically and regionally centered. Why is this so? The politics of division plague us.
Since its conception, the PNM has introduced this country to some of our most distinguished patriots, yet they are still unable to sustain a high cadre of individuals in its executive ranks. Take Dr. Cudjoe for example, a highly qualified man with both professional and journalistic experience, yet he does not seem able to appeal or connect to the people who are attracted to the party. He exhibits the same attitudes and habits that he is accusing the PNM jefes of cultivating towards its members. While black individuals have made significant progress in commerce, education and business, the black community as a whole have regressed in terms of destiny and cultural assimilation. This is caused by the poor communication between the affluent blacks and its poorer brothers and sisters. There is no cultural maps for the advancement of the Afro Trinidadian, nor does it seem any griots will arise from the multitude to lead them towards a better future.
I can say with conviction and history as an exhibit, that the PNM
presents the best chance towards a better Trinidad and Tobago because of its nationalistic policies towards development. The UNC on the other hand, is more regional and ethnic in its approach to governing and that will present more unease in a diverse population. While Dr. Cudjoe at times, poke holes into the lack of black progress, he offers no solution for the future of his people. He is more comfortable doing a balancing act, whereby he can liaise with Kamla on one hand, while offering no partnership with his own people. He is not alone, people like Roget, Duke, Dumas, Brown, Lee Sing and others make loud noises
in denouncing the PNM but offer no substitute.
It is unfortunate that our doctrine of democracy can only tender us to feel like losers or winners, based on the ethnicity of our leaders, instead of an elevated civic pride regardless of who leads us.
It is the debate over “nationalistic policies” towards development which is causing the cultural and ethnic rift of which you speak.
Each political party and corresponding ethnic group is striving for political dominance in order to advance its agenda, whether it’s religious,economic or cultural.
The Indian community is winning this battle in or out of government and has demonstrated that political power is not a requirement for success in our democracy.
Successive PNM governments must be given some credit for maintaining our democracy and thereby facilitating this success.
I sincerely agree “It is unfortunate that our doctrine of democracy can only tender us to feel like losers or winners, based on the ethnicity of our leaders, instead of an elevated civic pride regardless of who leads us”
TMan, I think we do share common ground on this topic and may I also say, that a healthy discussion can always bring about better understanding. I have no problem with what party one attaches him or herself, but I do care how the country fares as a result of that association.
Comments are closed.