Rising from Rock Bottom

By Dr. Selwyn R Cudjoe
July 30, 2010

PNMForgive me if I do not feel as jaded about the PNM as so many commentators do.

The PNM is down but it is not out. However, the infighting that we are beginning to see certainly does not help. While it is true that the PNM has reached its nadir, in time it would begin to assert itself and continue to be an important national presence. It would not necessarily do so as it did before and with the same force but whatever happens it will remain relevant to our society’s political aspirations. In times such as these we are quick to draw conclusions about the fate of political parties and social groupings without understanding that history must be viewed as a process rather than a static phenomenon. We draw the wrong conclusion if we look only at the results of the last general and local government elections and conclude that the PNM is done. In fact, the recent performance of the PNM should not allow one to conclude that it has no future in this society nor that the People’s Partnership remains an implacable force of nature.

In the end, we are dealing with people who are fallible and who are prey to the mistakes than any group of people makes as it gets down to the nitty gritty of ruling a country. There are many reasons why the Partnership is where it is today. The first has to do with the changing demographics of the society. In 1946, Africans consisted of 46.8 per cent of the population whereas East Indians consisted of 35 per cent; in 1990, Africans decreased to 39.6 per cent whereas the East Indians rose to 40.3 per cent of the population. By 2000, Africans had slipped to 38 per cent whereas the Indians increased their numbers to 42 per cent, which suggests that by 2010 there were more Indian than black voters. Given the propensity of Indians to vote in greater numbers than Africans and their solid commitment to an Indian party, the writing was on the wall. PNM was neither listening nor thinking. The results were inevitable. Up until 2010, East Indians had tended to split their votes. In 2010 it was a different story.

In 1952, Badase Sagan Maraj consolidated the two major Hindu groups (the Sanatan Board of Control and the Sanatan Dharma Association) into the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, which emerged as the most powerful Hindu organisation in the country. It would serve to consolidate the Hindu vote. In 1956, Badase formed the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which received 20.3 per cent of the votes and five seats whereas the PNM received 38.7 per cent of the votes and 13 seats. During this election, there was a split in the East Indian votes, with the Muslims and the East Indian Christians voting with the PNM and the Hindus voting with the PDP. The Federal elections allowed the PDP to bring in different political elements to form the DLP, which succeeded in gaining more seats than the PNM, although each party received roughly the same number of votes. In the 1961 election, the DLP received 42 per cent of the votes as opposed to the PNM’s 57 per cent. Significantly, voter turnout among the Indians was over 90 per cent, with as many as 95.17 per cent of the voters casting their votes in the St Augustine constituency.

In 1976, the ULF (a revivified version of the PDP/DLP) was able to capture only 26.9 per cent of the votes for 12 seats whereas the PNM, with 53.6 per cent of the votes, captured 24 seat. In 1986, the ULF came together with the Organisation of National Reconstruction, the Democratic Action Congress and the Tapia House Movement to form the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR). The result of their combined efforts was obvious. They beat the PNM to a frazzle. In 1995, the PNM called a snap election. Both the PNM and the UNC received virtually the same number of votes (256,195 and 240,372 respectively) and equal number of seats. ANR Robinson broke the tie and the UNC was able to rule. By 2000, the UNC had increased its percentage of votes to 51.5 per cent whereas the PNM had remained relatively flat. In the 2007 elections, although the PNM won 26 seats, it had only garnered 299,813 votes as opposed to the combined total of 342,466 votes for UNC and the newly-formed COP.

More importantly, while the PNM voter base stayed stagnant, the predominantly Indian vote (COP and UNC) kept on increasing to the point where they demolished the PNM in both the general and local government elections in 2010. These results and the movement of the votes suggest that while the East Indians consolidated their votes the PNM began to plateau around 1995. The inability of the PNM to increase its voter base and extend its reach proved disastrous. It having captured government blinded it to the realities of the times, which is why Mr Manning could have made such a catastrophic blunder in 2010. However, once the People’s Partnership has had a chance to govern, the electorate would have a better yardstick by which to measure its performance, which is what Keith Rowley was trying to say in his concession speech on Monday evening. Herein lies my faith in a resurrected PNM. The PNM received 39 per cent of the votes in 2010, which compares favourably with the 26.9 per cent of the votes the ULF received in 1976. It is from that base that it began to rebuild. It is from a base of 39 per cent that the PNM will begin to rebuild.

Just as the PNM was judged by its performance, so too would the PP be judged by how well it handles the economy, deals with the issues of crime, and creates a more harmonious society. Indians particularly will bask in the glory of their triumph. Given the development of a more sophisticated electorate, which is inevitable, and a more non-ethnic approach that will emerge among more citizens, ethnic sentiments will give way to national sentiments and the PNM’s place will be assured in our political geography. It is within this circumference of ideas that I expect the PNM to rise again to give voice to the legitimate sentiments of an expanded electorate.

23 Responses to “Rising from Rock Bottom”


  • “More importantly, while the PNM voter base stayed stagnant, the predominantly Indian vote (COP and UNC) kept on increasing to the point where they demolished the PNM in both the general and local government elections in 2010.”

    The ethno centric voting pattern did not matter in this last elections. People simply did not trust the PNM anymore. The PP had a good leader in Kamla who was able to appeal beyond ethocentric lines. Many Afros vote for the coalition because they were tired of Manning. And so begins a new era. I believe if the PP fails the PNM will win which is good for democracy in Trinidad. It is hard to say PP won because of ethnic lines. The floating vote is about 25% in T&T. That vote can go either way.

    • I may knock you when you say stupid things but this time you are on the ball and if you really mean what you say, then I commend you for it. Good job!!!

  • This article is the equivalent of a hope and a political prayer, as well as wishful thinking on the part of one of the apologists for a PNM that is in its twilight. It is absurd to characterize votes as “Indian” or “African” when the electorate is made up of numerous ethnic and racial groups.

    The PP is not an Indian government but one that received a majority of the votes in a contested election which was adjudged to be free and fair. The people have spoken, but there are some who prefer to lament and fan the flames of bigotry rather than accept reality.

    It is almost laughable to read this member of the intelligentsia’s comment that the PP will now be judged by their performance on crime and the economy. This is the same group that once tried to tell the people of TNT that the crime and economic hammer blows they were being victimized by were not specific to our nation but were in fact global in scope.

    The PNM is no longer the governing party because it has lost touch with the masses, continued policies that enriched the already rich and further impoverished the already poor. The PNM has no hope because the enlightened people of TNT know now that it is a party that does not serve their best interests and has no program for alleviating the plight of youth, women, the elderly, and poor of our society. It has failed to deliver quality health care, has not provided housing consistent with the needs of the population, never produced a rational plan for land use and development, and accepted high unemployment as normative.

    It is not demographics and the “39 percent base” that would “rebuild” the PNM or any other party. Political viability is the product of relevance, compassion and a program that addresses the most pressing concerns of the people. The PNM believed, and apparently still believes, that it has a birthright to the peoples’ support.

    The PP marks a transition to a new stage in the political dialectic of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

    • “The PP is not an Indian government”–Philip. Could not agree with you more. There is the false presumption that because the Prime Minister is of Indian heritage that the government is Indian. If you take a careful look at the portfolios Health, Ministry of National Security, Sports, Labour, Works etc. These ministries are the most powerful and influencial in fulling government policies. They are administered by non-Indians. So to say the government is an Indian government is presumptous and stupid at be best. The tribalistic tendencies of this writer is to see ethnocentric ideology in everything and appeal to the unlearned…. Unfortunately, for him the unlearn are not buying his “intellectual” crap. What out for him making a proper a.. of himself as he seeks attention….

  • Is Dr. Cudjoe still the president of the ‘national association for the empowerment of african people’? Could this be the reason for seeing everything along ethnic/racial lines?
    Was he the one who initiated the call together with Dr. Rowley for ‘affirmative action’ at UTT? Does he know that resulted in known 2nd & 3rd raters acquiring of administrative authority? Would this be the reason for students without the required academic requirements getting past the ‘front door’ at UTT?

  • Yes. I would not be surprised. These so-called university professors from TNT are very adept at importing ideas and “strategies” that were tailored to address problems that have entirely different historical origins and have no relevance whatsoever to conditions in TNT. He would be no different. Affirmative action was a tool used to level the playing field for African-Americans in the USA, after no no other remedies proved viable because of the entrenched racism that colored white decision-making in employment, housing, education, promotions on the job, even where one may be buried after death, to name a few. At one time in the USA, persons with black skins were not permitted to even swear on the same bible as whites in a court of law! Prejudice and discrimination, on the basis of pigmentation was the norm. Ask Cudjoe if this even has a remote similarity to the objective reality in TNT.

    I have seen an article by Selwyn Ryan and I am anxious to see whether his pipe dreams still have him in a state of hallucination.. I am sure I will be commenting on this soon.

    Whether they like it or not, PNM day done!

  • Just as I thought! Selwyn Ryan crudely betrayed his class instincts and sexist bias against the female Prime Minister of TNT. He all but said that a woman’s place is in the home, not in leadership. Like the PNM, to which he is desperately attempting to administer CPR, he too is a political relic, destined for the museum of infamy.

    In the article, Ryan poses the rhetorical question : “Election machine on pause?” and from there proceeds to grieve the loss of his beloved PNM. With the craftines of a mage, he then declares that a strong PNM is vital to the future of TNT because a vibrant opposition is a safeguard to the peoples’ democracy. I was shocked to hear such an utterance from such a rabid foe of the UNC and a protagonist in the fight to destroy that party. But it is this type of duplicity that has set the PNM into its final political twilight.

    It is worth a caution. Ryan does not want to be in opposition. The PNM wants to return to governing. Their “strong” opposition would be designed to attack and spread calumny, derail programs that benefit the people, frustrate, sabotage, and ultimately drive the PP from government.

    The good news is that there is mutiny aboard the sinking ship. Manningites are facing off against Rowleyite. To this, Ryan declares that the PNM does not need a “Messiah” to save it from drowning. This was no doubt a reference to Manning’s professed religious beliefs. According to Ryan, prophet Rowley is all the PNM needs to lead it back to the mountain top. In other words, all the PNM need do is to get a leadership makeover and all will be back on course. Never mind the fact they are still moribund when it comes to a program and platform for addressing the pressing concerns and needs of people, because they never intend to, as demonstrated time and time again.

    I recommend this article to anyone who had doubts as to the PNM’s loss of touch with the tenor of the times, the hopes and aspirations of the current generation of youth in our country and the daily struggles faced by the elderly, working people and poor families.

  • “A strong PNM is vital to the future of TNT because a vibrant opposition is a safeguard to the peoples’ democracy.” Phillip A, if as I suspect ,you are not just another of the many typical , self serving , unpatriotic ,opportunistic ,phonies , masquerading as a caring citizen , what do you find so revolting about the above statement?
    Do you not believe that our country was done a disservice by the likes of Panday for decades, due in great measure, because he was unable to mold the UNC into an effective, and vibrant Opposition, until Kamla’s entry , and “leadership makeover, saved the day , beginning on January 24th 2010?
    Now if that worked to her advantage, and possibly ,to the nation’s benefit eventually last MAY, why can you not extend the same faith in Rowley ,and believe that he too can do the same for the PNM, and by extension the country as a whole.
    Save your transparent cynicism my friend, for it is this piling on , and political overkill by victors , along with ecstatic fans , that would eventually lead to the demise of the present , new regime- of this you can be assured.

    • Yes, I can well understand your sentinments. Anyone who does not buy into the Cudjoe-Ryan antiphony about reviving the dead PNM, is either a cynic or unpatriotic. Please accept my sympathy.

    • Oh yes! I forgot to mention your “overkill by victors,” remark, which took off your sheep’s clothing and revealed you as a PNM wolf. The victors were the people–over 65 percent of the population, made up of all the races, ethnicities and creeds. Please extend my condolences to your entire family.

  • Dr.Cudjoe has his biases and his determination to return the PNM to power for one reason and one reason only: rule by an African party. His timing for raising the issue of disadvantaged people of African descent in T&T can be questioned; however he does raise a legitimate issue. The problem of addressing socio-economic deprived areas in T&T must become a priority of this new government.

    • The PP government scarcely needs Cudjoe to inform it as to the need to make the socio-economic problems confronting the masses in TNT, a priority on its program and policy initiatives. I think the government fully recognizes that it was only elected because Manning and the PNM had no agenda for the poor and working people of TNT. Thus, the multiracaial and multiethnic electorate, made up of persons of all colors and creeds, decided to elect the PP, in the hope that their problems and aspirations would get on the docket and finally be addresssed. If you have followed Cudjoe over the years, you would understand that his motives are always divisive. As a rule of thumb, no matter what he says, regardless of how it is phrased, he is only talking about Africans. He is not interested in any type of coalition or partnership or cooperation with other peoples because this would not serve his class interests, which is linked to the broader context of “economic globalization,” which requires disunity among people to succeed in the quest for profits and riches, mostly derived from controlling natural resources and exploiting the labor of workers. It is no accident that Cudjoe and Ryan are peddling their masters’ poision among the people of TNT, with natural gas and oil beneath our surface. This fight is not about which race or ethnic group should be favored. Cudjoe knows this. That’t just the angle he uses to achieve his master’s dominion over the economic resources of TNT; because he also knows that unity among all sections of the population would lead to demands for lower prices, full employment, better housing, and, oh yes, higher wages and a general improvement in the standard of living and quality of life in TNT!

      That’s why they are preaching this “strong PNM opposition is good for the people” garbage. You never heard them say that a strong UNC was good for TNT when the PNM had the government. All of a sudden, these intellectual pallbearers for the PNM have discovered what’s good for the nation! They were experts who knew how to govern in the people’s interest while in government and they did nothing for the people. Now they are to be believed when they say what type of opposition the people need! All one has to do is think about what they are saying to realize the foolishness and the even bigger design behind it.

      They are afraid of the unity among the people that brought the PP to power because they know the implications.

    • TMan, I still never viewd the PNM as an “African party.” While persons of African origin may have constituted a majority, the PNM once had appeal to a very broad segment of the society. The problem was that the PNM’s class interests merged with those of bankers, oil and natural gas barons and financiers. Thus, it had to abandon the interests of the people of TNT in favor of social and economic policies that continued to provide high rates of profits to this group while suffering, crime and deprivation ravaged the masses in TNT. Just take a look at documents from UNESCO, which details how the deals are cut when underdeveloped and developing nations are forced to negotiate loans and beg for subsidies from the World Bank. The first casualty is always programs that lend a hand to the neediest segments of the population. Wall Street does not favor “handouts” to the poor, but it will happily accept bailouts from the people’s treasury for itself.

      I think the main and most difficult task facing the PP is to convince the dogs of war that this government can keep them rich while at the same time addressing the myriad of pressing problems facing the masses in the wake of PNM rule.

    • Dr. Cudjoe is missing the days of Calder, Over budgetted contracts, murders,kidnappings galore, excessive government. He simply suffering from the withdrawal symptons associated with the PNM blight. O for the good ole days.

  • Yes. They always yearn for the good old days, when the people could not see the true interests they represent–the national and international big pappys who have a vested interest in the resources of TNT and the profits derived from paying low wages, raising prices on such basic necesities as food, medicine, shelter, etc.

    If you read some earlier comments, you would see one where the writer proposes that all the PNM has to do is follow what the PP did and it will be embraced by the electorate. They miss the point entirely or probably don’t wish to comprehend why the PNM is doomed. Cudjoe believes that the basis for a resurrection is the 39 percent of the electorate that voted for the PNM in the last election. He has a surprise coming as the coalition that elected the PP consolidates itself or decides to become one unified party with an organizational structure, pooled resources, administrative staff, etc. Not to mention what would happen if the PP is able to get a peoples’ agenda passed in parliament.

    As you can see, the PNM is now laying the foundation for their frontal assault. Hence, the “strong opposition” invention would be utilized to disrupt, sabotage, slander, and frustrate the PP government.

    But I have faith in our peoples’ intelligence and expect that their response would be swift and decisive in rejection.

    • Cudjoe believes that the basis for a resurrection is the 39 percent of the electorate that voted for the PNM in the last election.–Philip A.

      I had to chuckle at this one Philip. You know the Nazis believe that they could have won World War II. The Nazis had some of the most brilliant minds. Educated scientist with the ability to deliver.
      They convince themseleves that the Aryans were the superior race. Then along came Jessie Owens a black man at the Nuremburg Olympics whose sheer determination saw him beating the idea of racial superiority to the ground. Four gold medals to prove that the Nazis were not physically superior. The writing was on the wall for the Nazis.

      Cudjoe has unfortunately convince himself that the PNM possesses the intellectual superiority to lead T&T. He believes like the Aryans that they are the only ones capable of leading. Despite the empirical evidence presented that people do not view race highly in Trinidad as compared to African Americans. This is something he will soon discover that people want good leadership instead of ethnocentric ideology.

      For Dr. Cudjoe Keith Rowley a geologist by profession possesses the intellectual capacity to rescue T&T form the PP. To that I say HA HA… We all know that the PNM base can be found in Port of Spain and Point Fortin. Port of Spain and Point Fortin has been magnates for islanders coming to T&T. There could be more Grenadians in Point Fortin than in Grenada. As for Port of Spain a city with the highest rate of murders in the Caribbean (per capita)it remains a city that has not defined itself. It is the symbol of PNM “Aryan” thinking…unfortunately.

  • Looks like nothing has really change on this site. It’s the same old nonsense , and lame explanations as to what is needed to rectify the country, and how terrible it once was.
    The clock is ticking guys, and before you know it ,four years is gone, and if many promises are unfilled , then you know what would be the result – another 15 years of languishing in the political wilderness, as the people will speak.

    • I think you finally came up with something. But that’s the point. The people must not only speak, they must act! It is historically true in TNT, that when government is not challenged, when vigilance is relaxed on the part of the people, government does whatever pleases the rich, whether they are national bourgeoisie or transnational corporations.

      I am still very leery of the PP. But, they were the choice of the electorate. But the people cannot afford to believe that the struggle is over. Now is the time to try to make the push for progress and to solve problems that the people need to be solved. The people have to organize, unify, all of the races and etnic groups, men, women, youth, students, workers, all working together to bring change to TNT. None should be so trusting of the government that they leave everything in government’s hands.

      And that’s why Ryan and Cudjoe are in the process of trying to stop this from taking place. They know that a people divided cannot accomplish anything. But a people united can achieve everything! What they are attempting to do is steer people in the direction of a defeated party, or, in the alternative, confuse them so that they would sit on the sidelines, go to sleep like Rip Van Winkle, and not join the ranks of those who are now in a strengthened position to bring change. They are using a proven method. Simply preach race and ethnicity; that should keep them fighting each other and our friends in London and Washington would be very happy, so would the bankers and financiers on Wall Street, and so would the big oil and natural gas companies and their shareholders.

      You and I agree on one thing–the people should not have to languish anymore certainly not for “another 15 years,” because the time is now!

      • There is something particularly dishonest playing out here with you.

        In an earlier article written by Dr. Selwyn R Cudjoe, two posters confused him with Selwyn Ryan – probably because they both have a similar first name. This error was eventually pointed out by posters.

        This time this similar mistake is being compounded with dishonesty. Perhaps you realised your error in attributing the article to Selwyn Ryan instead of Selwyn Cudjoe. But instead of just admitting this and responding to Cudjoe’s comments, you are addressing both Ryan and Cudjoe in your comments, as if that covers up your initial error.

        Your style of commentary, together with your frequency, reminds me of another past poster who was discredited but has now reemerged with a changed username to give it a go again.

        However, my main point is, if you cannot admit to a simple error then everything else you are attempting to promote here is just part of a deception.

        But then again you are not unique; most people who post online would not put their face and real names to what they say. It’s mostly games and deception of which you are a part.

        • In an earlier article written by Dr. Selwyn R Cudjoe, two posters confused him with Selwyn Ryan–Heru.

          Selwyns are peas in a pod they draw ideas from each other. They did the same race base analysis of the election. Selwyn R at one time was going through the voters list and predicting outcome of elections. How scientific was that I don’t know. Selwyn C is blacker than Selwyn R. The reason for that is Selwyn C is a part of African American ethonocentric ideology. No one remains the same after reading Malcolm X, Elijah Mohammed and the 1960s racial uprising in the States. Selwyn C teaches Africana Studies at an American University so he is closer to black centrist thought. Selwyn R was a PNM symphatiser as Selwyn C is, so there is really no difference…

  • “Rising from rock bottom” was attributed to Cudjoe and Ryan’s photo is poised next to the article entitled “Election machine on pause?” Do you have more accurate information? Then why don’t you enlighten us.

    While they are different personalities they are of the same agenda anyhow. When you use your real name I would be happy to use my complete name also. And you need to be very careful about saying people are about “mostly games and deception” when they do not agree with your point of view or share your political sentiments.

    • My apologies, I just found out that you were referring to an article written by Selwyn Ryan from the Trinidad Express that was not carried here.

      And yes, I am posting with my real name. Given what I see people posting here coupled with the fact that some posters change their usernames after being discredited, I doubt they are proud of themselves and would want to be really identified with what they post.

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