Gordon Brown’s Disaster

Gordon Brown, Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe and Kamla Persad-Bissessar

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
April 30, 2010

It couldn’t have come at worse time. You are down in the polls. You have a reputation of having raging tantrums, being dour and bereft of the common touch. Although you are a good Chancellor of the Exchequer you are seen as the ultimate bureaucrat. Your political advisors say that you have to get out more; meet the common man and woman; exude more warmth; smile a lot with them which will make the electorate feel closer to you.

You take their advice; you go out to meet the people and then disaster strikes. It’s 11:40 on Wednesday morning. You go out to Rochdale just outside Manchester and greet Gillian Duffy, just the kind of Labor voter you must persuade to continue to vote for your party. She vents her fears and says, “You can’t say anything about immigrants… all these eastern Europeans where are they flocking from.” He calls her a “good woman” and claims he is interested in her concerns.

Five minutes later he goes back to his limousine, unaware or certainly forgets that a radio microphone is still on and give vent to his feelings. He explodes in exasperation: “That was a disaster-whose idea it was that…she was just a bigoted woman.”

And then all falls down.

Forty five minutes after, Ms. Duffy is told of his comments to which she replies, “I am very upset. Why has he come out with words like that?”

Three hours later he realizes that his candor has gotten him into trouble with the voters of the nation. Against the advice of his handlers, he returns to her home to deliver an apology: “I am mortified by what’s happen…I am a penitent sinner.”

The next morning the press is all over him. If you think our newspapers are bad, just listen to some of the comments that blazon forth on the morning edition of the English press. The Financial Times intoned: “Brown: That was a disaster.” The Daily Express admonishes: “A Hypocrite who Shames Britain: Brown calls Pensioner a bigot and then makes an apology.” The Daily Telegraph announces sympathetically: “It was the day Gordon Brown met a real voter and, in his own words, it was a Day of disaster.” The right-wing Daily Mail explodes: “Demonized: The Granny Who Dared to Utter the I-Word.”

Now, I don’t know how Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of England and political leader of the British Labour Party is going to get out of this. He is fighting a three-way race in which he trails the Conservatives by 4 percentage points and the Liberal Democrats by one percent. Yet, there was a chance that he could still have come out ahead because of the geographical distribution of the votes.

Thus, although his party has only 28 per cent of the votes, given the first past the post system as exists in Trinidad and Tobago, he was likely to end up with about 280 of the 630 seats that were up for grabs. Before his political blaspheme there was the possibility that the Lib-Dems would have formed a coalition government with his party thereby allowing him to form the next governing. Now, there is no telling what may happen.

All of this came on the day before the last debate among the leaders in which the economy was supposed to be the most compelling issue in the election. Speaking to the Financial Times the morning before his foot-in-mouth disaster took place Brown had urged the country to stick with him since he was the only man to take them through these perilous economic times.

Had done a creditable job in guiding the British economy through one of the worst economic downturns since the economic depression of the 1930s. And he seemed to be battling back, fairly successfully, from the low poll numbers his party suffered six months ago. So that hard work had paid off and stick-to-it-ness had shown its values.

And then in less than four minutes he had undone everything he had sought to do and, in one unguarded moment, brought to naught everything he had accomplished. It might be that the flood of people who are coming from Europe, Africa and the Caribbean were putting severe strains on the British economy and one had to do something about it. It had emerged as an issue in the second of the three debates the leaders had. To the electorate, the issue of immigration was second in importance to the economy.

According to the Daily Mail, he struck a cord of hypocrisy. Perhaps he could have been more forthright and tell her how he really felt. But then that would not have been the correct political thing to do since politicians never really say what they feel and, in modern day politics, perception is always just as important as substance.

In seven days we will know what the voters make of this tragedy which leads to a question, Are we ever ready, in Trinidad and Tobago or in England, to give a political pass to leader for expressing publicly what they believe privately? Basdeo Panday was clear about how he felt about black people. Patrick Manning’s record of pandering to everyone except black people is evident in the choices he makes when it comes to those whom he feels are capable of running the economy. Platitudes aside, do we really know where Kamla Persad-Bissessar stands on the issue of race and how she intends to mold the disparate racial threads of our society into one?

It is a question she should answer publicly before we put an x against her name on May 24.

6 Responses to “Gordon Brown’s Disaster”


  • Well doc, we certainly know how you feel about race and it has been neither instructive or productive, but rather destructive to cooperative ventures in our society.
    Kamla’s actions speak louder than any possible rhetoric.Here you go again raising the spectre of the ugly racial bogeyman from your podium in the USA.

  • Dr. C said ,”do we really know where Kamla Persad-Bissessar stands on the issue of race and how she intends to mold the disparate racial threads of our society into one?” There is an old saying Doc ,that I am sure you are familiar with, that goes something like ” show me your companion ,and I’ll tell you who you are.” It is not too difficult therefore , to decipher where any , conniving ,self serving politician’s hearts really lies outside of their empty ,vote attainment rhetorics, yes ?
    We the astute knows fully well ,to simply look at the track records , then come to prudent conclusions.
    Obama her new mentor, was in bed with Chicago’s lifetime ,Black Liberation Theology head guru Rev Wright for decades , then conveniently dumped him two months before the Presidential elections to appease naive whites ,since some folks viewed the well intentioned Reverend as an anti American ,anti white racist- merely because in his case he had the temerity to point out America’s numerous domestic social ills , and failing to live up to stated ideals -particularly when it comes to neglected Africans that freely developed that country.
    Madame K likewise carried the ‘high level skewed talking points bags,’ for Panday the national divider for decades , and accepted close councils from Sat the racist anti Afro Trini Maraharj since she was walking bare feet to school in Siparia as a kid.
    She eventually dumped Bas two weeks after destroying his political life and that of his daughter’s possible coronation, and other intended lofty future. What’s her plans for the Uncle Sat, is any one’s guess, but then Doc we have bigger issues to discuss in good old T&T aka Rainbow Country, ehh?
    I don’t know about you , but I am ready to sell my citizenship to the highest Nigerian ,Venezuelan ,or Guyanese bidder.Got to leave this crazy , tribalistic ‘me,me, geme, geme, dog with a bone people’, and their country alone.
    Let T-Man and others of similar ilk ,have their way , since we know on paper how much they view Guyana, and Venezuela as the perfect model of political stewardship and democratic principles, even as 500 or more people per day swims up the Demerara ,Essequibo , and Orinoco Rivers , in desperation to escape both unfortunate buffoon led dungheaps.
    Let’s wish them well my friend. Unfortunately , poor unfortunate Cumoto , Guyaguyare , Toco , Cunupia , and Febeau Village Lavantille can ill afford to pay for even internet to read ,enjoy ,and be informed about these ant other pertinent issues that is vital for proper national interest decisions come May 24th, agreed?

  • sundiatadingarka

    Please, Dr please. ISN’T it time that delusions be left out of the discourse?
    With respect to the fact that the British Prime Minister’s inadvertent and justifiable slip was ONLY attributed to political campaign expediency, you have found a way to attribute an overtone of race that, in your myopic veneer of Black Fascism, the Hon Kamla P. Bissessar must be subjected to! Why?
    Just in case you have not being cognizant to the fact that our Democratic Republic is under imminent threat,and, with all the public/investigated/reported evidence, you think Mrs K.P.B’s private intonations is of some consequence!
    Why would you choose the British and not the Nigerian example?
    or, the Somalian? Or, South Africa. You say it as one word, SOUTHAFRICA. How about Liberia? Dem Rep of Congo? Need i go on. At this time, all except Ghana, which has a semblance of…DEM.
    …DR Cudjoe you need to qualitatively expound on the idea of which COUNTRY on the African or Asian continent, that you can enjoy the fundamental rights and freedoms you have in Trinbago.
    I do hereby advise you to stop with the RACE talk hereinafter.
    For the people; Of the people;By the people. ‘Forged from the love of liberty’. ‘With boundless faith in our destiny’
    A destiny we must SECURE and PROTECT viz a viz OUR CONSTITUTION.
    Why on Earth is this so difficult to understand?

  • Leave the good Doctor alone sundiatadingarka, for in a democracy there is a place for healthy discussions on race. This is not naive big brother America, the comedians in Europe who pretend that savagery only existed before they came , or Canada of ‘all of us are one , but white is might,’or the jokers in South Africa , that thinks some petty reconciliation council ,and the world cup is their end all solutions to problems made by racial segregation Apartied,but a true thriving democracy, where being Trini to the bone ,entails honesty as a characteristic.
    Failure to deal with race, and other ethnic affairs make you end up like Fuiji, Amin’s Uganda, Sri Lanka,Hitler’s Germany , The Balkans /former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, South Africa, and I’ll throw in Zimbabwe for good measure.
    Just keep it real my friend, and remember your country is unique from it’s inception as a country, and many of the prevailing social , maladies that exist today ,were a direct result of our initial colonial history involving white savages, African slaves , and Indian indentured laborers.
    If you think that a hastily contrive political love feast that involves Indo Trini , genocidal screaming victimization head guru, Caroni East Dr. Tim Goopesing, and Jack Warner – “dey want to spend my money ,but calling me stupid black monkey nigga behind my back” fame, is going to suddenly settle all criminal kidnapping woes , or economic social disparities problems , think again.
    It takes UWI public symposium discussions , and appreciation of your fast growing , yet ignored Dougla population , explanation of land disparities,and yes ,hash look at race at all levels, to prove our political maturity as a nation. I wish you well.

  • THIS WRITER EXPRESSES AN INTERESTING VIEW.

    THE EDITOR: This is an open letter to Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the coalition team. I am a 47-year-old female of African descent and a “PNM-diehard” who lives in Morvant a predominantly PNM area in the east-west corridor, I was born and grew up under the legacy of the PNM leadership. I have over time become saddened and disillusioned with my Prime Minister and the manner of his governance.

    The People’s National Movement is as we all know, predominantly an afro-based party, ruled by Afro-Trinibagonians and has largely an afro-based following.

    I don’t consider myself a racist, but was born into this culture that says “we must not let the Indo- Trinbagonian rule us.” My fear has continually caused me to vote for the PNM. Now, change is in the wind and is taking place in the hearts of the people, my people.

    Given the fact that there will still be a lot of people who will vote race, I say now, as for me no more. I cannot vote for a party or a prime minister who thinks that it is more important to put most of our resources in a 2020 vision of bricks and mortar and not deal with the real needs of the people.

    I wish I can say to the PNM “Mr Prime Minister stop insulting the intelligence of the people. Stop bribing the people with promises that you know you will not keep in exchange for their votes. Your promises are like the thin layer of pitch that your Government is so hurriedly applying to the nation’s roads. We see you.”

    Mrs Persad-Bissessar, I hear you. I hear your call for unity. I know that unity is something that has to be continuously and vigorously pursued and it will not come overnight. We need to start sometime. You have made a plea for us to take your hand and put our trust in this coalition team. Because of this call I am willing to make a change for change. I am still afraid but willing. So Kamla, I will take your hand and let all those who are brave enough, walk hand in hand with this coalition party and let us rise. Fearful but hopeful.

    CANDICE THOMAS

  • So what exactly is the Assistant chairman of the lower Toronto Kiwanis club ,attempting to tell us here by regurgitating this example of 47-year-old female of African ,typical idiotic “PNM-diehard,” Morvant looser? You are just preaching what most of us knew, and have said all along to you pretending to be too deaf to hear. The PNM can be beaten any time that the sleeping Opposition got their collective acts together, and present themselves as a viable alternative government in waiting , with a coherent socio economic policy- and here is the coup de gras – while suppressing petty differences , so that they can survive the political marriage and extend their time in office. One term government won’t cut it to counteract decades of one party rule.
    Therefore ,Panday, his loyal pals ,and dear clueless family members ,were finally removed ,as Madame K solidified her leadership, while working in conjunction with our dear, and more progressive brother Mr. Dookeran , and her prudently reaching out to leading other non tribal folks ,of some grit ,character , influence , and love for all our people. Therefor we’ll see what occurs on MAY 24th.
    IF the people that count brought in to the change cry, then whalla!
    Remember however that these same much maligned folks,including myself , spoke forcefully in 1986. They did it again in 95 , then 2000 / 2001. What’s your point , again dear friend?
    As madman Rodney king once famously said , en-route to getting US$50 Million , due over zealous , racist LA white cop’s action, “Can we not all get along? ”
    In this case , our beautiful country ,which would miraculously evolve into one beautiful social mosaic , where political accountability, personal security,broad based economic prosperity for most, and peaceful coexistence amongst all our citizens becomes the norm , so that perennially disgruntled ,frustrated , destitute nationals like yourself can soon pack respective doggy bags ,and return home. I wish you well, now time to get up from your pipe dream. Nation building is not for the weak hearts , and so is never easy. Read your loving , adoring Americans, and European history. It would confirm this.

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