Is PNM Yesterday’s News?

People's National Movement (PNM)

People's National Movement (PNM)

By Dr Selwyn R Cudjoe
June 05, 2010

Sharon Wilson is a friend. A few days ago we were in conversation with other friends. She asked, “Is PNM yesterday’s news, or is the People’s Partnership tomorrow’s promise?” It was a good question. It spoke to the enormous challenges that face the PNM and the innumerable opportunities this new environment offers if only we can seize the moment.

Sharon also wanted to know how the PNM can attract the younger members of the society into the party when they know so little about the old PNM, Dr Eric Williams, and the importance of Point Lisas in our economic development. Although many of them appreciate that the PNM provided them with free secondary and tertiary education, several regard these achievements as nonchalantly as I accepted going to free primary school in the 1940s.

It was only in the 1980s that I learned that my grandmother, who was born around 1876, could not read nor write because she did not attend primary school because her parents could not pay for that privilege. In fact, free primary school in T&T only became a reality in 1901. By the time I attended primary school I accepted it as part of my natural inheritance; something that came along with my being a British subject. I didn’t know (and really didn’t care) who I had to thank for such a privilege.

So that while the PNM may have achieved remarkable things in the 20th century, the real question that faces us today is whether we should be mired in the past or re-engineer the party to speak to the needs of our young people in the 21st century.

The present circumstance allows us to examine the systematic failure of the party over the past few years and to find the means to solve it. We can begin to do so by being more democratic, starting by naming senators who represent the broad spectrum of the party and who can contribute to our re-emergence into government. It is important, therefore, that Keith Rowley resists the impulse to name senators with whom he has been familiar and to whom he may feel a sense of gratitude.

I offer this caution because the public silence of the old guard was as much to blame for the failure of the party as was the intransigence of our former leader. They were loyal to Mr Manning and did everything to stay within his good graces. In this new incarnation we must guard against a similar uncritical response and fealty toward whoever becomes the leader of the party.

Whatever we do we must remember that we are not seeking to replace Manning’s yes men and women with a Rowley fan club. We are seeking to build a party that is located firmly in the future. The present moment allows us to introduce good governance, to offer a candid assessment of where we went wrong, and what we need to do to take us into the future.

Then there is the case of Colm Imbert who aspires to the leadership of the party but offers a curious narrative about race and his appropriateness for the position. He takes objection to the idea that “somebody could just be appointed leader of a party by acclamation and could just walk into the post.”

Although I appreciate his sentiments, I wonder if this is the same person who couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about when folks protested that Mr Manning’s car bore the coat of arms when all one had to do was to write the appropriate regulation into the licensing authority regulations to correct this indiscretion. Why, he mused, was there so much fuss about this little, nagging inconvenience?

It is important that we understand that the reorientation of the PNM goes further than simply getting rid of Mr Manning and replacing him with different faces who enjoyed a cozy though uneasy relation with the former PM. It cannot be that one’s only claim to recognition and a post in the newly reconstituted PNM is one’s connection to and friendship with the new political leader.

Anyone who is selected to represent us in the Senate should be able to contribute towards orienting the party in the future. We should use this opportunity to expand the reach of the party and diversify its membership; aim at a judicious blend between the old and the new; and allow merit and creativity to replace cronyism and favouritism.

If we are to speak to the new realities of the moment—tomorrow’s promise as Sharon called it—we cannot do things as usual and expect unusual results. Nor can we allow ourselves to believe that one man, Keith Rowley, can replace another man, Patrick Manning, and then by some magic incantation feel that the PNM has been transformed and thereby ready to face the future.

We must first talk about the collective leadership of the party. The vital decision of selecting the new senators must not be the sole province of the political leader but should emerge out of a responsible discussion among the party leadership.

In fact, before we even select a leader, we must know what we are getting into; where we are going; and how we expect to get there. This, too, must be the product of collective discussion and good-natured give and take. We must be guided by the principle of inclusion; utilising all of the talent that we can find in 41 constituencies; and make a deliberate attempt to engage the best talents in our party.

It goes without saying that the proposed senators and the new executive of the party should represent the best the party has to offer. While we must respect the old, we should not allow sentiments and nostalgia to cloud our vision of the future. While we are not yesterday’s news, we can become tomorrow’s promise only by turning to leaders and thinkers who are not afraid to challenge orthodoxies of the past and think in refreshingly new ways about the future.

We can restore the PNM to its pristine glory if we think the hard thoughts and do the right thing. The future remains within our hands.

17 Responses to “Is PNM Yesterday’s News?”


  • The answer to your question is YES, THE PNM IS YESTERDAY’S NEWS.

  • The PNM decision to install Rowley is the first mistake.The pnm is falling into the old trap of, (and I will coin a word here) ONEMANISM. Besides Rowley is tainted!

  • I love the balizier. Its a country person’s flower,from back when you could not afford roses, that Dr. Eric Williams chose to symbolize the people. Later, we chose the chaconia as the national flower, also a wildflower growing in the bush. The balizier came to be hated by those who profess to love sugarcane,the plant resposible for about half the illnesses in TnT: diabetes, cancer etc.The balizier will only dry up and die when no more rain falls on the Northern Range or the Trinity Hills, but that would presage the death of all he people of TnT.

    • Plain, simple, ignorant racism. Poor attempt to to disguise it as a lesson in rural flora.
      Not only racism, but blind, non-evaluative adulation. That’s even worse.

  • Mr Rowley started of on the wrong foot.He should congratulate the present government,and then try to work deligently with them in the interest of the people,while unifying his party…good luck…away with the bad attitude…

  • So we have first pseudo Canadian T-Man , and probably his wife T-Malary, denouncing the new Opposition leader as being “tainted?” No my friend,he is simply choosing to adhere to his mandated responsibilities , as guardian of the people, and of course, the task as ‘government in waiting.’ Firsly, T-Man, if you can live with Madame Kamla, even if she firmly wrapped herself up in the same symbolic bed ,like a hungry Brazilian Anaconda, with Panday for decades, then others would take their chances with Mr. Rowley, as he attempts to keep the barbarians from running roughshod over our treasury, laws, basic acceptable ethical standards, and treasured Constitution.
    On a point of order, Mr. Rowley will be expected to congratulate the UNC ,the moment they are prepared to reciprocate with some public display of gratitude to him, for giving them a chance to formulate a single issue to run on, of which they were clueless prior to him putting Manning, Canadian Hart, his misguided Seer woman , and Hazel’s heads on a platter for them to consume.
    It is only a naive , or perhaps illiterate 16 year old would think that a change in political fortunes of one party as took place on May 24th, was a reflection of a sudden death of one, and permanent elevation of another.Please someone tell me, why such idiotic attempts at logic never tend to emanate from the lips of objective intellectuals in the global North?
    That’s not how politics work my friend. Now you can do like your Guyanese cousins did ,by quitting your lofty street cleaning job, and sell your condo in downtown Toronto,but promise me not to invest in any expensive Lange Park, Westmoorings, Maraval, or any similar elite enclaves, as your job as mid level ‘pencil sharpener,’ or ‘multicultural heckler,’ ,in the UNC kitchen cabinet, would be short lived, as those of us fortunate to live through 1986 can be attest.
    Let me make something absolutely clear that pandering suspect intellectuals, perhaps in search of political hand outs ,can never decipher- or rather pretends not to.
    The UNC/PPP did not win the last election as many politically ignorant believe, it was the PNM under Manning that deliberately lost it- a very significant distinction. Therefore, it is the UNC / PPP that would, do the same shortly , through their own arrogance, ‘political and cultural overstretch,’ as well as possible acts of inevitable malfeasance -that they ironically accused the recently defeated regime of.
    Let’s continue to love country over tribe ,shall we. Remember that nation building ‘ain’t’ easy.
    Regards.

  • Tmalary, Tman and Whip2010 eat your heart out! With Rowley as opposition leader you will get a taste of what democracy is all about. While many of us are supportive of the new government, we are under no illusion that their behaviour would be conducted in manner that would be acceptable in the long or short run. We must therefore have an alternative and ifr we are to judge from Dr. Rowley’s past we know he is the man for the future. We are not ready to bury our heads in the sand and hope that this PP government will always do the right thing, far from that. I will not question Kamla’s intent, I believe that she means well but good intentions may not in itself bring good results. While the cabinet she has announced seems good on paper, her plans are questionable. Actions on the Old Age pension is good, plans to go immediately into forensic audit of Petrotrin, UTT and UDECOTT might prove to be too much before getting a good understanding of the subject matters. Announcing the local elections is a good thing, opening up the PBR is not a good thing ( it will prove to be a bad decision very shortly after). They have learnt very early not everything you oppose you reject such as Alutrint. It is smart that they learn very early that they have to continue with it. This goverment has it’s hands full and we need a good opposition to keep them honest and who is better than Keith Rowley?

    • ..Typical ‘one-manism’…this is why the PNM will stay Irrelevant to the Need to T&T..with opinions like these..blind loyalty will blind the PNMites to the great strides they could make to mature their party. Right now the PNM is still in adolescence, and other parties are beginning to pass them on the highway of maturity and mature thought.

  • what the pnm does not need are wishy-washy opinion makers like selwyn cudjoe…what promise does the PP offer?: no rapid rail, no property tax, no ttra, no financial center, no industrialization, no utt, no highways..instead silly knee-jerk traffic plans ala jack warner’s pbr…anil’s auto racing complex at wallerfield and a promise of so much agriculture we would soon be drowning in it…i saw selwyn commenting on the election results and he had no idea where moruga was…i say no more….

  • There is no way to make people like Neal like change. You can only make them feel less threatened by it.
    The reality is that the UNC and the PNM will never again form government as independent parties in T&T. The majority government of the PP will permit the new government to change the constitution to accommodate proportional representation, ensuring forever that coalition governments will administer T&T.
    Those who dream of recapturing the PNM glory days of the past,along with the uneven exploitation of the state’s resources will be sadly dissappointed or forced to adapt to new realities. Gone are the days of secret, privite scholarships for insiders.Gone are the days of self serving domination by the Port of Spain PNM cartel.

  • Marlon Miller: Good riddance to bad govt
    THEY say you shouldn’t kick a man when he’s down, but I just can’t resist because you also shouldn’t play mas and fraid powder. After all, I didn’t tell this particular individual to be so pig-headed and arrogant that he went from being king of all he surveyed to being hounded out of his own stomping ground faster than you could say ‘we caught them with their political pants down by their knees…’

    Selwyn Ryan: Reflections on an epic election
    Who won or who lost the epoch defining electoral war? Did Manning lose it or did Kamla win it? Great historical events are invariably followed by intense debates as to who or what ’caused’ the event. Invariably, however, great events are multi-causal and it is never easy to identify the specific causes of what occurred or the specific times when eras are said to have had their beginnings or endings.

    Lennox Grant: Like morning in T&T
    In the snakes-and-ladders game of T&T politics, one player scaled the pinnacle of power, as another slid rapidly down a serpentine chute, ingloriously to be voided out. The howls of execration at Balisier House, as Patrick Manning made his final exit from the PNM leader’s position, drew reproofs not only from editorialists but also from others who felt obliged to frown on a display of ’uncivilised behaviour,’ as Colm Imbert’s supporters characterised it for the Guardian.

  • Ah wondering: If PNM is yesterday’s news, why are people outside the party apparently pushing Penelope Beckles as leader, when the party already has one? Who are these talking bobble heads? Who has an interest in condemning Rowley at every opportunity, including in the Express, daily, while pushing Penny? Is it that they want a lesser intellect that they could manipulate? Ms. Beckles, take it from another Arimian, do not get into a fight with Rowley. Some people are putting chips on his shoulder and daring you to knock them off so the fight could start. Then, they could say well is bacchannal woman versus wajang, what you expect.

    Be a model of dignity at all times ma’am. Those who seem willing to push you forward, trading perhaps on your sense of being overlooked by Mr. Manning, are not seeking your best interests. The PNM lost Arima because of dotishnessness. Let that be punishment enough. Be the model of ladylike rectitude, and work with Mr. Rowley to rebuild the party. Let the other side fight in the media over temple or cutural center and such divisive nonsense. Remember, Discipline, Production, Tolerance.

  • The glory days of the PNM are over and those who advocate the rebuliding of the traditional PNM as a credible alternative government are either misguided or stupid.
    The PNM has to remake itself into a true national organization encompassing the length and breath of T&T and not only inclusive of the Port of Spain establishment, blindly supported by the Afro massses.
    The country has changed in many ways:The population statistics,the educated class, the entrepreuneural class,the social dynamic. And guess what? the PNM establishment are the last ones to discover these realities.

  • Those who salivate for the extinction of the PPP with the hope that such an event will facilitate their ethnic homogeneous ambitions will be as disappointed in the long run, as they were when their racist Prince Basdeo Panday went down the electoral slide. The task for people like me who remain grounded in the reality of Trini politics and culture is to continue to define and analyze the propaganda and subterfuge, so that our people’s voluntary entrapment on the nuevo styled slave plantation will not be long and drawn out.

    Coalition Politics to the Tmans means Indians leading blacks, make no mistake about this. He might attempt to obfuscate his slant by dint of cunning linguistics, but his agenda is clear. His agenda is an evisceration of black represantative politics in T&T, and peddling the myth that 80% Indian and 20% black political power structure is the best way for T&T is how he and his symbiotic cohorts hopes to accomplish it. Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, they are playing a seductive tune to lure us over chasm of political and social destruction.

  • Dear London Trini: I have tried to like marigolds, but they smell badly, something about them annoys my nose. Now that they have been found to have medicinal qualities, I could probably give them a try.
    My garden is lovely, roses that are six inches across, canna lilies, crape myrtle,bouganvillea,gladoli in purple and white, azaleas and roses of sharon constantly tussle as they try to reach the sun, but I swear, not a marigold in the bunch.So when I say I like the balizier as a simple country plant, you could see in that whatever the heck you want. What kind of a creep sees racism in a love of a flower? Put some people in the Garden of Eden, and they will be as vexed as hell. They would look at a dozen roses on a bush, and see the bumble bee in one flower.
    When those I counsel admire my garden, I remind them gently that gardens are healing places, concentraations of oxygen that restore, uphold life; and I give them plants to start a garden of their own. I am too old for hidden agendas. Eden was a garden.Every country I know has a national flower, and a national bird. I have not met any yet that has national gun, sword, knife, cutlass, machete or diging stick, nor any of the technologicaltrash we pollute our lies with. There must be something to this garden and flower business. Now I know there is little room in London for private gardens, so, go walk in Green Park, visit Kew Gardens, I think the Chelsea Flower Show is over, so its quiet again, walk along the lower Embankment, and contemplate gardens. That might purify your minute soul.

  • Fact is an era has come to an end, you do not have to disect what happened on May 24 one thousand times to see that. Keep the comments and ideas on the question that was asked “is the PNM yesterdays news”. It sickens me to read the diarrhea being spewed by this bunch of racist commentators. Either make a positive contribution or shut the hell up and crawl under a rock.

  • I am not a good mathematician, but it seems to me that 18 responses to the query means a no. If it was yesterday’s news, inteligent people would not spend valuable time talking about it.Now, let me go work in my garden.

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