Jack’s shelf life

By Raffique Shah
August 04, 2013

Raffique ShahThere is no tectonic shift in voting patterns coming out of the Chaguanas West by-election last Monday, as some politicians and political analysts posit.

What happened was simply this: the constituents, who are predominantly Indians and supporters of the UNC, used the ballot to tell the party’s leadership that it could not foist any “crapaud” on them. They wanted Jack Warner to represent them, and they were prepared to defy the party’s directives to make their point.

That they did it emphatically, giving Jack 70 per cent of the votes cast, was a bonus the wily Warner enjoyed. There is no doubt he is a clever and ambitious man who seizes an opportunity when it presents itself. He will have noted the decline in popularity of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the People’s Partnership, witnessing first-hand the flogging Tobagonians administered to the TOP in Tobago.

As chairman of the UNC until a few weeks ago, he will have sensed, too, that his leader and colleagues were ignoring the warning signs, preferring to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that nothing was wrong. They believed their own propaganda, peddled through paid callers and bloggers and sundry sycophants, that the ruling coalition still commanded overwhelming support.

I should draw readers’ attention to a nightly poll conducted by CNC television, asking viewers which candidate they thought would win the by-election. The results put the UNC’s Khadijah Ameen way ahead, garnering 60 per cent of the votes. In fact, more persons voted for her in that telephone poll than on election day! A similar poll during the THA elections had put the TOP at the tippy-top.

Jack knew all of this. He may have been part of the delusional charade. So when the damning Concacaf report named him as being involved in yet another football scandal, he saw an opportunity to escape from the sinking PP ship and salvage something for himself. He was always favoured to win his constituency. He has worked like a “lagahoo” to service his people like no other representative anywhere, past or present.

When he resigned his seat and triggered the by-election, he was way ahead of the party in mobilising his support base. Indeed, since he was first elected there in 2007, he had an almost permanent presence in the key districts of Felicity, Pierre Road, Charlieville, Endeavour, Munroe Road and Bejucal. He was a winner before the election bell rang—and he chose the time to ring that bell.

The party was cornered, but it could have saved itself from Jack by using a master strategic stroke. Problem is it has no strategist. The one man who could have been so diabolical, Jack, was now calling the shots. Let me pose the question: had the UNC nominated Jack as its candidate, what might have happened? Its opponents, and scribes like me, would have waded into the leadership for eating its own vomit. But what else is new in politics? Jack could not decline the nomination. He would have gone on to win. But then what? The party could have kept him on the backbench, sans ministerial portfolio, and he could do nothing about it. In such scenario, come the general elections of 2015, it could then safely ditch him as a pensioner.

In general elections, the party is paramount. In a by-election, the candidate counts. It’s that simple.

But all of that is now muddy water under the bridge. Jack is seen by many as injecting new life into politics, as breaking the race barrier, as making representation the key commodity in any election. I concede that there are possibilities for him, given that we do not have a sophisticated electorate, that people are likely to go with the flow.

In such case, what can he achieve? In the upcoming local elections, he might easily capture the Borough of Chaguanas (where he has his base) and a few electoral districts in neighbouring areas. He might even win a few districts elsewhere in UNC strongholds where people are crying out for attention, where councillors have been more dead than alive.

But that’s the sum total of his potential. Jack’s win does not signal that anyone else can duplicate or replicate his feat. Name one other UNC MP who can resign his or her seat, contest a by-election against the party’s choice, and win. None—maybe not even Kamla. Name one PNM MP who can join Jack’s ILP and deliver his seat to the “green machine”. None!

Other than a mass defection of parliamentarians and politicians from the main parties to the ILP, which could trigger an NAR-style, 1986, routing of the UNC, COP and PNM, Jack’s party has a shelf life of possibly two years. After that, it expires. It has no constructive place in the political future of the country. And as a destructive force, it can hurt the UNC, hardly the PNM.

A classic case of a UNC-created Frankenstein returning, with vengeance, to destroy the hands that moulded it. Here endeth….

26 thoughts on “Jack’s shelf life”

  1. So far, Shah is one of the few journalists who have stuck to the courage of his convictions on this Jack phenomenon.His description of the Chaguanas electorate is right on target. His analysis of the PP arrogance is also dead on.
    While so many journalists are now singing Jack’s praises, Shah deviates and presents a much more realistic assessment.
    We often like to throw Shah’s history in his face, but like his past, his stance on Jack is based on solid principles.

  2. This is generally an ok article but with several flaws, especially in prematurely concluding a limited shelf life for Jack’s party.

    To begin with, no one in the media saw how far ahead of the game Jack Warner was when he resigned his seat. Most of the sensible analyses of the events today are in hindsight.

    The only time we can say for sure that there is “no tectonic shift in voting patterns coming out of the Chaguanas West by-election” is when we have subsequent elections with which to gauge this. Until then we just cannot know; we can only speculate. But the shift there was real and important to the history of Trinidad and Tobago as it points to the possibilities for change and what it would take to connect to grassroots people across the ethnic divide as Warner has demonstrated.

    Also, I do not buy Raffique Shah’s theory that, “In general elections, the party is paramount. In a by-election, the candidate counts. It’s that simple.” We have no evidence of this in a general sense. People mostly vote for their respective parties in by-elections and Warner’s victory deviated from the norm.

    Even if no one else can replicate what Warner did, people could be inspired by him and his leadership and support his candidates in other areas. They can believe that with Warner at the helm, he can get his candidates to try to follow his example of ‘service’ and 24/7 campaigning in their areas. History is filled with the examples of mass movements behind an individual even if other key members of the organization do not have the same abilities as the leader – Christianity, Islam and all major religions are prime examples of this. So the shelf life of Warner and his political party will be determined by how he carries the momentum forward and reaches out to other communities while not alienating his base. The only real threat to Warner is Warner himself.

    On a side note: It is not that the people of Chaguanas West do not care about matters of integrity; it is just that integrity is not their priority especially since they do not see Warner’s character flaws affecting them. They also do not believe the alternatives to Warner have any integrity themselves. The obnoxious UNC Prado brigade does not care about them neither does the COP nor the PNM. As a matter of fact, most of the people who are speaking about Warner’s lack of integrity have very little of it themselves. So their vote for him was on the basis of tried and tested ‘service’ to their community especially as they believe that they were first getting this service and improvements under Warner’s leadership even before the UNC formed the government. They do not believe any other representative would go to those lengths for them. The constant harping about FIFA allegations of corruption has made Warner into a kind of Robin Hood.

    The huge support for Jack Warner, evident by his overwhelming victory, was the people of Chaguanas-West showing that they are not neemakarams.

    1. Heru, your attempt to sanitize Jack is disappointing.His supporters are no better. They sold their souls to the Devil.as Trini journalists and isolated politicians watched in admiration.
      Shah’s principled position is rare in this country.

  3. If Jack continues to deliver to the people of varying constituencies like he has done in Chaguanas West, the ILP stands a favorable chance of dominating the Local Government Elections. This will far exceed the two year shelf life as alluded to by Mr. Raffique Shah. Beside ‘race’ which has influenced the selection of governments for some time and will continue to do so, people vote for representation, this was clearly understated in Mister Shah’s article. The people of Chaguanas West did not vote for Warner to ‘stick it’ to the PP or the UNC or to twist their arm, they voted for Warner because he did what elected officials are supposed to do, represent the people.

  4. San Fernando East has not had representation in Parliament since Manning’s stroke resulting in his absence. Assuming there is a bye-election for that constituency tomorrow, can we envisage any tectonic shift of voting patterns from the electorate? Both Warner and Manning have been around for some time, now assuming a new face enters the scene seeking votes for their respective party can we expect the seat to be PNM as always? Assuming Robin Montano decides to throw in his hat for the ILP in that constituency would we expect that since the Indians voted for a black man in CW, would we expect the black voters to throw their votes for the ILP in San-Fernando East? All we can do right now is speculate whether the contituents of San-Fernando East can say it’s about time we need someone to address our concerns (seeking representation). It may well be possible that tribal politics can be still existent in pockets of our country where the racial divide continues. At this moment, hats off to Jack (alias David) who has achieved a goal against the government (Goliath) that appeared unattainable.

    1. Since 1956 (if my recollection serves me correctly)the constituents of San Fernando East have “always” elected “the” PNM candidate.Gerard Montano was the first,and he was/is a Caucasian.

      “Many people face racial discrimination on a daily basis” (Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissesar…in a recently published article)Her observation (acceptable) has encouraged me to offer a suggestion;which has plagued me for the past twenty years:

      Because of the ridiculous “racial divide” in T&T…Elect a Prime Minister (regardless of “party affiliation”)who is a Caucasuian “Trini”….this will engender an enormous debate.However,I am prepared to defend my position.Merci

      1. San Fernando East has always been PNM. There was Gerard, Danny and now Robin Montano. Refer to this Hansard document about Gerard. http://www.ttparliament.org/hansards/hh20051116.pdf
        I do not think that the colour of the individual as the Government leader will make a difference e.g. Seaga (born in Massachusetts) leader in Jamaica. I believe that the inherent problems in T&T hinges on bitterness , iniquity and greed. Bitterness that belies most of us in dislikes of fellow compatriots because of their skin colour,riches (beit ill-gotten), etc. Iniquity in that we live for today and forget tomorrow and gorge ourselves when hungry faces are looking at us (this is where JAW will make the dent based on representation and equitable distribution of resources) and Greed because thieving is a word that seemed to be overlooked in our vocabulary even if it is a stick of chalk at school. Although there are allegations from FIFA against JAW, charges cannot be laid because he has resigned from that organization. If the US gov’t wants to arrest him on fraud and some alignment can be made with Noreiga in Pananma, then time will tell. For now the US should concentrate on Snowden (catch me if you can). On the serious side because of the wealth T&T have generated for decades we should have been the Singapore and Dubai of the world, the hub of activity between CARICOM and NAFTA.

        1. Very well said Loyal Trini. Hate, greed, vindictiveness,selfishness,dislike of color, creed and race is our problem.

        2. Thanks for the link from Hansard;which amongst other things informed me that Gerard Montano had “passed on.” (God rest his soul)He was an honourable human being.”and it was in the circumstances of 1970″ It remains (a politician)the most thankless profession on God’s earth.

          History alludes that:crime,poverty,racism(cheats)will always embody human existence.The most recent addition to that list are…..”whistleblowers” Ponder the following:Will T&T offer asylum to Snowden?

  5. Politics of “I” marn representation won the day. Jack build his brand like Coca Cola as a man who is caring,sharing and willing to help the people. He build it by skillfully utilizing the media. Every lazy media person knew that they could easily build a story around Jack because he loves to talk, very comfortable with a camera following him all over the place. He master the art of winning friends and influencing people using bags of cash to accomplish his mission until his constituents saw Jack the person only. While the PM saw Jack the corrupt politicia, others in cabinet seeing the same while the people in CW saw Jack as hanooman. Jack took money from the government, businesses and went to the people telling them that he was building roads, giving pension etc. They became intensely loyal to him and the rest is history.

  6. Heru, welcome back! It is always nice to have people who can enlighten and give insight on matters of importance and relevance. You made great contributions in the past and I know for sure you will continue to do so. You are right on the money about Jack. Like most people I too believe that Jack is a smart man and a con man too but there are no rich men in Trinidad whose riches came through saintly means. As for politics, it is easy to conclude that he commands a mastery of the art of politics that no one has seen since Dr. Eric Williams. If one were to carefully examine his politics , it would also be easy to conclude that he thinks three steps ahead of the average politician. His meteoric rise rise can be traced to 2010 when Basdeo Panday as the sure horse to beat for the UNC nomination. He pinpointed Kamla as the party’s best hope because she did not possess the the caustic image that Basdeo embodied, he nurtured her candidacy and presented her as someone anyone can trust and believe in. Her being a woman could only help NOT hurt the UNC. And it worked like a charm. He understood in advance that the time will come when she and those around her would want to kick him out and replace with someone else, so he worked his way through his constituency to make them proud of him and they did. He knew in advance that there are those who would be jealous of him in the UNC but by the time they were able to build forces against him he would have already consolidated his position, isolated by his performance, without having to depend anyone to recommend him. These acts gave rise to his star quality which are unmatched in the UNC. Can he be a threat to the PNM? Yes, he can and without much rancor it can easily be achieved. Manning as Prime Minister gave only lip service to his supporters while he made sure his money base (the Syrians) were secure and well fed. The people woke up and realized that under the PNM stewardship the constituencies were bankrupted and starving for bold and enlightened leadership and he did not provide that. The case of the Brian Lara stadium is such a scenario where he made a bold prediction that it’s construction was going to be a “tsunami”, it turned out that the only thing it did was to help his contractor friends bankroll a lot of government money. A case can be made against Jack that he is guilty of depriving the little man of his hard earned cash, without allowing much information to come into the public domain, he settled the issue and allowed it to die a natural death. Whilst there are those who view his actions with FIFA as telling of his character (myself included), there are those who also believe that h e rich man and there is nothing wrong with that! It can easily be rationalised that the rich man STEAL from the poor EVERYDAY. So there is hardly any evil in the case being reversed!. Jack realised that in order to move forward he could not depend on the executive of the UNC and had to do it himself, so what better way to paint them than to expose them as “the cabal”. The cabal was there whilst Jack enjoyed fame as the “hardest working minister” in the UNC, they either remained quiet or gave nominal support to the damning allegations of corruption whilst in the FIFA executive leadership. In their haste to defend his behaviour they created ad hoc committees to justify why Jack should be able to stay in the UNC executive and a minister of government. Their mistake was to now use that against him in the by-election, thereby solidifying their incompetence and partisanship and elevating Jack as some kind of Robin Hood. It is easy for the common man to see him as “taking from the rich and giving to the poor”. He embodies that character whether true or not. Lastly, he knows that a rising tide lifts all ships, he does not trust the captains of the ship he commanded to rise in the dispensation he now envisions, so he had to form new alliances that come to the fore without any stains or taints. So, he is now reaching ‘downwards’ to the county and city levels to elevate his coming posse’ of new politicians who will be ready, willing and able to combat the old, tired, tainted and washed up bodies that will be filed by the UNC and PNM to battle for the upcoming local and general elections.

  7. I beg to differ with Raffique Shah as JAW has set a new ball into motion for which we are seeing encouraging action. CW – the heart land of the UNC, is an important victory for JAW. Trinis are crying out for representation. As Obama says we need to grow the middle class not from top down. Brain washing and lies are out in the open now and can no longer work as in the ONR days refer the mud slinging by PNM against KARL HUDSON-PHILLIPS. This dirt no longer woo voters. In addition, Race Politics is a thing of the past. It is fact not fiction that both the UNC and PNM have used power to fill their own personal needs (pockets etc.) and aspirations. They, PNM and UNC are also now worn out fighting each other and share a lot of skeletons in their closets as these closets open up. They do have endless baggage. There is also a significant mass of Trini voters from election to election that shift allegiances. There is known fallout in the UNC-COP arrangement and there is a UNC-A and a UNC-B. Bas still has sway and an intense hate for Kamla and with JAW in his own party ILP, Bas will be more outspoken repeating himself “I told you so” – about Kamla’s leadership qualities. In the PNM Leadership there is significant division and fallout in several areas of the party. Dr. Keith Rowley (KR)does not enjoy full support of PNM members and yet if he does achieve their support he still has to woo other voters. The PNM of today is far different from the PNM of yesterday. Both in the mid 90s and in the turn of the century (2007-2010) they lost a lot of ground. Amongst other things a very strong leadership is now required. KR has a steep mountain to climb and does not seem to know how to climb it. And he still has a cloud of corrupt practices over his head to answer for. COP has gone the same root as the NAR….down a slippery slope to nothingness. Therefore when you step out the box and examine the political climate in T&T carefully JAW in the next 20 months can grow the ILP to a point where he can make serious in roads and win a general elections. Of course he has work to do to achieve this but he has a very good foundation. As well there are persons in the PP government and in Ministries that have connected positively with JAW and will offer him their support. He knows that. I am reminded of Crazy’s calypso – In time to come. However the question that I would like an answer for now , is why is Raffique Shah doing a number on JAW. Who is Raffique Shah really working for?

    1. I have come to the realization that Shah is one of the few who is willing to resist the tide of support for Warner based on moral grounds.
      Warner is a slick and devious operator, spreading his ill gotten gains to anyone who is willing to sell his soul to the Devil.
      This upsurge of support, admiration and sanitizing of Warner reflect very poorly on the moral qualities of those who support him..the media included.

      1. No your PP supported him. You seem to have amnesia about you beloved AG appointing a committee to look into Jack’s appointment as a minister and your AG and his committee came up with the conclusion that Jack was fit, proper willing and able to be appointed as such. I knoW you have amnesia so it is fitting to remind you again and again.

  8. The PP realized Jack’s value and therefore held on to him for as long as possible.Let me remind you that you and Rowley were Jack’s loudest critics, berating his conduct, morality and lack of principles.
    Now that he was sanitized by the voters of Chaguanas West, have you now joined the chorous of supporters?

    1. This is where you are absolutely incorrect, inconsistent and out of order. If you really follow me, you will see that I try to be objective in my conversations, in so doing there are times when it becomes necessary to speak the truth about somebody, somethings or some incidents. If the truth is complementary about someone I do not particularly care for, then so be it. There is no such thing as a convenient truth. truth is truth. Depending on the subject matter, it might be necessary to speak truth about Kamla that might be complementary and I have no problem with that. Speaking about Jack’s past is one matter, speaking about his morality is another and speaking about his politics is till another. Even if I amy be complementary on one matter and derogatory on another it does not mean that I am inconsistent. Does he lack morality? Yes. Did he as a minister operated with a clear conflict of interest? Sure. Is he a good politician? Hell! yes. Unlike you TMan you are consistent with your hate of anything PNM.

      1. I do not “hate” the PNM as you proposed. I just find them to be useless at this point in our history. Examine the crime spots in the country. They are all in PNM constituencies. And what are the PNM members of Parliament doing about this situation? Absolutely nothing except misplacing blame on this present government without recognizing that they have been ruling these areas since time eternal.I recently heard a newsman proclaim recently that if crime statistics in these PNM hotspots were removed from the national statistics, the rate would be reduced by 90%.
        The lowest crime rate in T&T for the last five years was during the State of Emergency.

  9. Save for the SOE bit, I concur that the PNM were asleep while the crime escalated in these communities but you still hate the people who are responsible for your education.

    1. Are you suggesting that I hate my parents. They were the one who exported me to a foreign university because I was not “eligible” for a secret PNM scholarship.
      Also, education is a legal and constitutional right in all countries, enforced by the UN’s Rights of the Child charter.

      1. That country hating creature call VS Naipaul ,ain’t have nothing on you T Man . Let me guess, you both went to the Chagurnas Primary School, and you both parents regretted the day Massa England departed our shores , huh? Do you think , my ungrateful friend, that those wonderful parents of yours, would have fared much better ,in Tamil ,terror haven Sri Lanka, Fiji, or ID Dada Amin’s Uganda? With citizens like you folks, who need enemies in T&T?

  10. Well said TMan..PNM folks think that our Treasury belonged to them..the wealth was distributed to 30% of the entire population>>70% were disenfranchised & victimized by the PNM racist policies.

  11. Laventille Walkabout and other activities

    The Independent Liberal Party (ILP) will be conducting a walkabout in Laventille TOMORROW, Saturday, August 24, 2013 from 1:00pm. We will be starting the walk from the Tokyo Panyard at the bottom of Picton Road.

    There will be a brief spot meeting at Pump Trace and another at the end point which is at the St Barb’s Basketball Court. at 5:30pm. Interim Political leader, Jack Warner, will be the feature speaker at both venues..

    The media are also reminded that the ILP will be holding its Local Government Seminar for prospective candidates in the currently-due Local Government Elections on Sunday, August 25, 2013, from 9am to 2pm at the Centre Pointe Mall, Chaguanas.

    The seminar will be followed by a Media Conference at the Centre Pointe Mall Auditorium commencing at 3pm.

    The media are invited to cover all three events.

    Thank you in advance for your usual assistance.

    Respectfully Submitted,

    Jack Warner

    Interim Political Leader

  12. If we consider the typical Trini politician to have 3 main characteristics: (1) Racial divisiveness (2) Non-performance and (3) corruption

    then Jack is better off than many on at least 2 counts.

  13. You know folks , de wisest woman that ever lived , in my late Tobago Granny , used to say the following, to me back in de days , when I was a young whippersnapper :- ‘ show me your companion, and I’ll tell you , who you are.’
    Put differently, ‘birds of a feather ,flock together.’
    If Auntie K , and her mentor Basdeo Panday ,made the important decision , to bring Uncle Jack into their UNC party, then use his resources , to achieve , national political fortunes,so does that mean that they too ‘are better on 2 counts,’or simply honest , performing/ competent,racially inclusive folks , Ravi?
    Take that St Joseph , via Rousau , political comedian , in former Justice Minister Volney. Her Majestick Queen K , got into bed/partnered with one of the most incompetent state attorney, in La Trinity, who incidentally evolved into a clueless DPP , then worst yet ,terrible High Court Judge , who had 90 % ,or more of his cases overturned in the higher courts upon appeal.
    When he failed miserably on his first act as a Minister , she dumped him like a sack of rotten potatoes ,less than 2 years into his tenure, but wish to hold herself above the fray in the process.
    Ain’t political expediency something Ravi? Your Auntie K , certainly learned from the best , in Papa Basdeo , ennnt Ravi? How is your AG Rammy doing by de way? In other parts of the world where less morally politicians abound ,he too would be looking for a job- being the head legal officer of our country. Then again , dis is T&T , and what a country!

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