As the world turns

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
July 10, 2024

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeOn June 25, 2016, I wrote in this space: “Nine days ago when I arrived in London I had hoped the UK (United Kingdom) would remain within the European Union… There was some nostalgia there but my wish wasn’t to be…

“Xenophobia won out in the end although there were other concerns. There was the split between the metropolitan heartland and country; the disconnect between the elites and the masses; those who saw themselves as global citizens and those who prized the bulldog, isolationist identity and more conservative England.”

Eight years later, the English awoke out of its stupor and corrected its folly. On Friday morning, a jubilant Keir Starmer, the leader of the British Labour Party, addressed his followers after his historic victory: “Across our country, people will be waking up to the news that a weight has been lifted, a burden finally removed from the shoulders of this nation.”

Many UK residents regretted the choice they had made previously. The Conservatives suffered its worst loss in its 200-year history.

In May 2017, I visited Paris to track down a similar phenomenon that was taking place in France. I wrote: “Last Monday, caught up in the frenzy of the French elections, I made my way to Parc des Expositions in Paris to attend Le Pen’s rally for the presidency. Her [Marine Le Pen] rightwing demands had made many French people and the progressive forces in the Western world nervous…

“The excitement within the large auditorium was palpable. Le Pen’s supporters were waving their French flags as the strains of “Bolero de Ravel” filled the air. There were not more than ten black faces amidst thousands of white people. This dazzling whiteness did not intimidate me…

“An older woman observed: ‘She [meaning Marine] speaks to the poor people. Nobody else does. She wants to protect them from immigrants and terrorists. They are afraid to lose their jobs but she doesn’t have an answer to their problems.’” (May 7, 2017.)

Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson used similar sentiments to win over the trust of the English people.

Emmanuel Macron trounced Le Pen in 2017. Last Sunday he was not as fortunate in the first round of French voting. The Financial Times wrote: “Marine Le Pen’s far-right party battered President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist alliance in the first round of France’s parliamentary elections yesterday…

“The far-right has not been in power since the Vichy regime collaborated with Nazi Germany in 1940-44. It could now move from the fringes of politics to the heart of government. That would be the culmination of Le Pen’s decade-long efforts to detoxify the party, including by ousting her father, who co-founded it.” (July 1).

In June and July 2017, I spent a month in South Africa and Swaziland (now Eswatini). I bemoaned that President Jacob Zuma “was giving away the country’s resources to an Indian family while the poverty of the black masses in South Africa deepens”. Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s deputy prime minister at the time, remarked: “Our country is unravelling. We cannot stand by and watch as the country sinks… We cannot allow anyone, party leaders or foreigners, to come here and loot the country. We worked hard for this freedom currently under siege.” (July 2, 2017.)

On February 9, 2018, Ramaphosa was elected president of South Africa. He had six years to correct the situation. A few weeks ago he fumbled badly and the people showed their resentment. The ANC, founded on January 8, 1912, lost its first election since it assumed power in May 1994. Sometimes electorates speak and act with savage efficiency.

Last Friday, to the astonishment of many people, Kamla Persad-Bissessar supported the Government’s Bail (Amendment) Bill, 2024.

The Leader of our Grief thanked Hurricane Beryl for addling her brains which led her to do the incomprehensible. UNC had said “Nay” so often that he assumed it was impossible for it to say “Yea” to a piece of legislation in the people’s interest. He was on point, however, in hoping the bill encouraged the police and Judiciary to work faster to bring criminals to justice.

Politics is a funny game. Sometimes changes occur in seismic proportions. The UNC may not stand a snowball’s chance in hell to win the next election in 2025, although there is a possibility the election could be held before then.

However, it is possible the UNC may surprise us all if the Leader of the Opposition bestirs herself and becomes more active in the day-to-day politics of the nation. She only has to believe her party can be victorious.

We never can tell how people are likely to behave. As the world turns surprises sometimes unfold. It will be interesting to see what happens politically in T&T in the next 12 months.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.