Re-Brand the PNM!

People's National Movement (PNM)
People's National Movement (PNM)
By Bukka Rennie – April 2010
Posted: June 14, 2010 –


This piece was first written in August, 1996 in an attempt to place on an objective basis the debate within the PNM. The aim was to have the country debate the issues, the POLITICS, before the PNM leadership election in October 1996. To facilitate this, the article was e-mailed to Lennox Grant, then Express newspaper Editor, and to Sunity Maharaj, then Editor of the Independent, but neither carried the article.

By Christmas of 1996, with no resolution of the leadership crisis in the PNM in sight, the article was sent to the “Friday Mirror.” On February 21st 1997, the Friday Mirror carried Part One of the article, indicating that Part Two would follow on Friday 28th, 1997. But that was not to be. The Editor of the Friday Mirror suddenly changed his mind and without any advice to the reading public he chose to discontinue. To satisfy the demand and placate the interest that arose since the publishing of Part One, the entire piece was published by me in 1997 under the title “The Lyrics and the Licks – PNM Revisited.”

Now in April 2010, with even greater challenges being faced by the PNM both from within and without, the demand to re-examine the PNM in-depth has become crucially imperative and in this context the article has been up-dated and re-worked. It should be known from the onset that the purpose here is not to be an apologist for the PNM. Instead the aim, just as it was back in 1996-1997, is to raise the level of political discourse in the country to such an extent that the overall political culture is eventually transformed. The irrational, anti-historical view that implies that the PNM belongs to an individual or some individuals must be dumped once and for all. The PNM is the historical legacy of the progressive strata of the local middle-class who created this vehicle, the PNM, in their quest for national self-determination and liberation from colonialism and neo-colonialism. When one comprehends that, one can then grasp the fact that the PNM is bigger than any of us, bigger than Williams, bigger than Manning, that the PNM is in fact OUR LEGACY, and though it, the Party of our parents and grand-parents, has been veered away from its natural moorings, its raison d’etre, to the extent that it has been found at times to be both the prosecutor and persecutor of the very children of its founders and has been estranged for the past decades from the new progressive sections of the modern middle-class, nevertheless the time has come for all of us to seize hold of this vehicle of our political legacy to re-fashion it and re-brand it in order to meet the new demands for people’s empowerment and the challenges of the 21st Century for sustainable national development.
Continue to ‘The Lyrics and The Licks: Re-Brand the PNM!’

15 thoughts on “Re-Brand the PNM!”

  1. Well thought out and written document. However, it up to the PNM to realise that globalisation, information will continue to bring about rapid change. Therefore, new strategies and new innovation is of utmost importance if they wish to regain political mileage ever again in Trinidad and Tobago. Emphasis must be placed on (as said by the Author) is on separating the party activities from government activities.

  2. Mr. Rennie, I salute you for your persistence, and guts. The Media directorate has always been in bed with The Party-in- Power, and the one in the wings. Other opinions are hardly welcome. I had a similar experience with my piece The Troubling Question of Land Reform, written in 2000, on the Zimbabwe situation. People lost it on their desk more than once, until I sent it to this forum, where it was published and picked up by bloggers in Africa and elsewhere. The two party, two paper state continued merrily along until Newsday broke the stranglehold of the others. I am speculating as to what threats were made against the Mirror guy, about possible re-arrest on additional charges etc. Yet once, he had been a rallying post for those wishing to get something out.
    With the state being controlled by the PNM in the past, and private enterprise in the hands of “UNC Financiers” and their cohorts, presure could be put on the still small voice saying things are not right.

    The people have kicked the hardhead to the curb, and now, perhaps, some serious talk could begin. Make sure though, that those who want to talk, have independent income, and are not beholden to anyone, for contracts or anything else. This means only a small groupof people can participate in these reform talks. We are a vengeful people.

    1. It is strange that the word UNC Financiers keep arising. Why is the media bent on identifying these so called UNC Financiers? Further, why aren’t the PNM financier identified? Who are they? Seven years after the last UNC government, Ish and Ferguson is still being identified as UNC financiers. Are the charges against them directly related to UNC financing? I find it amusing that the media if they choose to go that pathway have not said that these gentlemen are “former UNC financiers” and the charges are related to UNC financing.


    The worldview of this group can be traced back to the “Garveyites” and the UNIA and the Pan-Africanists who advocated that a strong, united, free Africa had to be the prerequisite for the respect, freedom, dignity and development of African people in the Diaspora, most of all by definition their ideology was intrinsically anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and pro non-alignment. They were the ones, who, as part of their worldview, actively advocated South-South dialogue and South-South economic relationships as priority over North-South traditional trading patterns and relations. To this grouping it was essential that strategies be developed geared to minimize the in-depth psychological effects of slavery and the continuing, worldwide, anti-African, racist tendencies. It is important to note that this grouping comprise the largest section of organized labour in T&T. They have been consistently critical of successive PNM regimes for projecting a value-system that is, by and large, Eurocentric with little regard to promoting African culture and African traditions and sensibilities save and except the superficial and plastic rituals of stage presentations of “Better Village” productions. Nevertheless, what is commonly and highly regarded as Caribbean popular culture or “Creole Culture”, though an assimilation and cross-fertilisation of all the influences that converged in this region, is largely African-derived though it is not recognized as such.

    Can anyone shed light on the highlighted part of this extract? Do Black Nationalists “comprise the largest section of organized labour in T&T”? Where and when have they been consistently critical of successive PNM regimes?

  4. Khem unless you were locked in a 5 by 2 cell in our Maximum Carara Island for the past 15 years , then you too would know that the UNC ,in all it’s past manifestations ,and 99.9% of it’s breakaway ,fringe clones , are chiefly made up of some of the most corrupt , and crooked individuals on the face of Blackgod’s earth. It does not matter, whether they are in power or not – same kaki pants. You know it , as much as I do.It is just that you as expected ,are too dishonest to admit same.
    We know fully well what you and similar enamored fans are scared about. In the land of the free ,it is called plea bargain , where lazy DAs send you away for 30 years ,as opposed to 50 , as long as you give them the names of the big enchiladas.Don’t worry , your new Ag can pull a Ramesh as well, and bring back hanging to silence another witness. Ah , sorry, the Yankee extradition cannot be delayed!
    On the more pertinent subject before us. It is true that the PNM should experience a rebranding . Rowley and present company can only serve as a caretaker ,after decades of being part of the problem. Check this, within the last two weeks,’the Rot,’ went to Tobago his birthplace ,twice in the last 30 years , and I am certain needed a guide dog to find his way around that island , that he like Robbie conveniently remembered their navel string was buried there.
    It is certainly time for a non leeching ,new brand of energetic , conscious politicians , unafraid to stand up to greedy , selfish , and uncaring oligarchic, and nuvo rich bourgeois fractions, of our society , that choose to suck this country dry of everything possible, fleece poor , many jobless,hard working class folks of difficult to find dollars, then sit on the sidelines ,and cry daily about how unjust this country was to their families , even as they check their expanding foreign bank accounts , and reminisce about stupid stories their grandparents impart to them of early post colonial yesteryears – before independence.
    It is time for a new PNM that would deliver services , and socio economic spoils that are long overdue to a people whose ancestors build this country up without an iota of compensation.
    They are not the only one that needs rebranding however, unless the jokers now in charge ,and naive , ecstatic supporters ,were of the view that voters really fell for this empty Kamla headed ,political concoction. This too was simply a Machiavellian means to an end, that a savvy voting public choose to adopt.Give them some credit!
    If I am not mistaken another neo colonial , crooked , nepotistic ,dinosauric Grandmaster is out of the way, a token caretaker holds sway, then new more progressives would be now encouraged to get ready for battle.Guess what , it ain’t Goopiesing, Rambachan , Volney, Dookeran , or Panday baby brother .
    Change would INEVITABLY take place by the ‘hook or the crook,’in our country, of this we can be assured.Let me steal a new age expression that was introduce in another context of similar struggles – “by any means necessary.” Time kiem , hopefully you are up to the task , to first re-tweak your twisted thinking , and get our young people , and thousand of disenfranchised engaged, and mobilized into action ,so that they can eventually support folks that have their deep long term interest at heart, yes?
    Stay honest , and above the fray, my friend!

  5. In this election for leadership of the PNM there is one candidate, Keith Rowley. They could not see that by allowing others to vie for that post they would have sent the signal that they are embarking on change away from maximum leadership. It does not look like change when they have an election with one candidate. Colm Imbert and Penelope Beckles should have also contested and agree to support the victor. It did not have to be a hostile affair.

  6. At the last schoool I worked in, in 2007, the administration instituted the bright idea of payments by results. The state supported it, so if your school was highly rated based on test scores, you got a pot of money to share among the teachers. I objected to it on the grounds that if you want to give a dog a bone, give it to her, but to throw the bone to the ground and watch the dogs fight for it, is a dogfight, not a feeding. By the end of the year, many teachers were not talking to one another. The examinable subjects were math, science, social studies and language arts, but the teachers who taught the other subjects felt they should share in the pool, because they encouraged the students to excell also. Which is what I had prediicted would happen, and why this was abolished in England more than seventy years ago.

    The “Fight” for the leadership of the PNM, would have been that bone, those pools of money, thrown into the ring and resulting in animosity. I am glad the other two backed down. Recriminations are not needed now. The fight would have been a media circus of no benfit to anyone who is a genuine PNM member. The fakes need to focus elsewhere.

  7. No, PNM not dead yet
    The now opposition People’s National Movement (PNM) is on the ropes, having received near deadly body blows on May 24 from the newly constituted People’s Partnership (PP), which overthrew the 54-year-old venerable political institution 29-41.

    logoIn the wake of this completely unexpected development, the responsibility of its leaders, more so then Prime Minister and PNM political leader Patrick Manning, some are saying the injuries are fatal and the PNM could never recover from the devastating PP beating. I beg to differ but how soon the party is able to rebound, to make itself once again an attractive governing entity, depends on a lot of things, most of them in the hands of the new, or more accurately interim, leader Dr Keith Rowley. The people have placed great confidence and hope in the Kamla Persad-Bissessar-led PP, and it would take monumental mistakes or misdeeds on its part to dislodge it from its hard-fought-for political leadership of the country. Even though the PP enjoys tremendous support at this time, for a democracy to be truly functional an equally strong opposition is mandatory. Only time would tell if Rowley and his group would provide that kind of check and balance to keep the PP regime on an even keel.

  8. “For one to expect or ask things of others that he himself, if asked, would not be willing to do or give, is the worst kind of arrogance.”
    Anthony Beal

    “Only time would tell if Rowley and his group would provide that kind of check and balance to keep the PP regime on an even keel?”

    I guess we are putting the brunt of the work for keeping our democracy alive, or the mammoth task to ensure that possible greedy , or corrupt barbarians not empty our treasury, and turn self aggrandizement into an art form, yes? It is however beyond the complete powers of Dr Keith Rowley, and his few party gunslingers, to do what the crafty agents of the complicit, corporate ,4th estate are suggesting.
    They must be ably assisted by all nationals ,in and out of this country , doing what ever it takes within their means ,and power ,to make an impact. Any group or individual who thinks otherwise ,is either disingenuous, politically naive ,is attempting to sell us a bag of rotten potatoes, and is trying to set up someone to fail.Put country first, at all times.

  9. In it’s efforts to re-mobilise I hope the PNM can take a page from the PP and recognise those who have here-to-fore was never allowed to have a voice and never benefitted from membership in the PNM – I am talking about the non Afro-Saxons whom they depend on so heavily during the elections to put them into office, only to be dumped and forgotten once they regain office. It is these forgotten people who felt that they had nothing to loose that saw people like Makandal Daaga being praised by the other side for the heroic stand he took in 1970 to bring about fairer employment practices in the work place, feeling OK to join Jack and company who offered them more than they ever got from the PNM. Take Laventille for example, supported the PNM for all of it’s existence but never had a chance to enjoy life like other communities in the country. They never got a decent police station, proper utilities, proper community based support to further enhance culture and most importantly proper educational facilities for the children. People who found comfort in the practice of religions outside the European mould were never prominent in the PNM, example being Baptists, Orishas, Shango etc. There is a tendency to be looked-down on by the more prominent Afro-Saxons. Ken Vallyey’s utterence about the wearing of dashiki was heard loud and clear by these forgotten Africans and so was Manning’s attack on Daaga in this past election. If re-branding means anything, it should show a better level of tolerence and understanding of these forgotten people if the PNM is to regain the respect it once had in these communities. The other thing about the PNM is that once in power it recognised economic prowess only in the French Creole and European communities and failed to challenge the poorer classes in the creation and expansion of economic activioties that could expand the imagination of these people. If the PNM adopt a sensible approach to these and other situations amongst it’s support base then they may not have too much to worry about as iot goes about re-building it’s future.

  10. So tell us something we did not know already Kian,but before ,here are the million dollar questions for you my astute friend.
    Since Kamla did not just become PM of India , Bangladesh, Pakistan , or Sri Lanka , do you think that she and her political party has what it takes to deliver, and allay the concerns of lifetime disrespect and neglect , towards Afro -Saxons ,that came their way as a result of PNM support?
    Should the latter sing kumbaya for the next four years ,as Kamla deliver on Panday’s initial promises to his and her own PNM discriminated , and lifetime prosecuted Indo Trini tribes, while at the same time,they listen , and read stupid , childish gloating commentaries ,as to why the PP won ,in spite of Dagga, Warner, Gypsy, McClod,other African calculating politicos, and huge percentages of this disgruntled mass of PNM voters?
    Finally, on all the past occasions in the past 47 years that the PNM won, why was this the case , is it because they used force and intimidation to coerce Indo Trini to vote for the PNM , or the ULF, Club 88,UNC , and COP ,that others of the Afro Saxon persuasions ,were not allowed membership to those parties, , or that they too abandon their voters once in office?
    Take a bet folks , I say kian would never attempt to answer this, but remain silent as if cat cut his tongue until another distracting non issue prop up on the board again, agreed?
    Lord, tell me which zandolee holes these fools emerged from after it seems 65 years in hiding. Don’t they not know that playing with fire is dangerous , as this nonsense cannot continue unabated, as the bubble would inevitably bust, and no one would be a winners in the end ? Tell dem jokers for me that this misguided debate has nothing to do with Indian , Africans, Europeans, Syrians, Lebanese , Hispanics, Hindu, Islamist, Baptist, or similar garbage.
    It has instead everything to do with the neglect of the majority of our fellow nationals -in unarguably the richest English speaking country in the entire Caribbean-by a despicable, neo colonial , divide and rule bunch of elitist , that conveniently used race as a useful tool to dominate , by pushing cronyism , and nepotism.
    Hey Kian , no one has clean hands, feel me ?
    Love country over time, as the consequences of doing otherwise kian are terrible- historically.

  11. Neal, while you and many other fair (not fear) minded Trinidadians use your valuable time to educate and transform the twisted thinking of many of us on the blog, there is one theme that raise it’s ugly head, no matter how hard you try in pursuing an objective course – race!. There is something cancerous about that topic that always crap up especially one does not have a better idea. I too, believe that Kamla cannot deliver on the many things she promised, but it is those promises that caught the eyes and imagination of those whom I write about in the preceding piece, THEY HAD GOTTEN to the point where they believe that ‘anything is better than what we have’, which is a dangerous mental condition for one to exercise his/her adult franchise to put someone in power. Just reading the blogs tell us that Kamla & Co feel the same way about Afro-Saxons than before the elections, they are probably more confident in their belief now because they know for sure that they can command the attention of enough of them to make their numbers worthwhile, without cedeing support from their base. When our friends who ‘lent their support’ wake up it would be too late, Ramlogan would by then create an opportunity for Ish and Steve to appeal whatever ruling that favours extradiction; Sat has already gotten his ministry of multiculturism; all of the objective decisions in the Caroni workers compensation will be reversed in favour of the workers; those squatters who are arrested will of course be those disgruntled voters; Calypso an Dance may not be funded as in the past but new forms of ‘culture’ might emerge to replace ou beloved Trinidadian culture. In this and all else the one thing that will always be a watch word and continue to drive this momemtum forward will be race! Sad but true.

  12. Kian ,I happen to spend the first 16 years of my life , growing up with ,someone that I much too late came to recognize was the wisest woman that ever lived. She always tried to advise me that often “what you see, ain’t always what you get.”
    It made me develop a certain sense of caution , and levels of suspicion for folks ‘bearing gifts,’ and extending compliments, or better yet ,unexpected flatteries . In addition ,a ten year stint in an unmentionable organizations -that became the footstool of every so call expert known to mankind, and today , the brunt of derision ,by every crook and bandit ,in high and low places, committed to a particular crooked lifestyle , helped further solidify that suspicion ,to such a degree that 20 years after departing , I still hold such distrust to everyone from captain to crook , that even if my own mom stood in front of me with a loaded bazooka to my head, and demanded that, I jump on the Kamla revolutionary bandwagon , as she got a direct zeppo from our blacksungod who art in heaven , that Madame Kamla , is a vast improvement to Uncle Basdeo Panday, or that her new Political rival Dr. Rowley, would put Eric Williams, Chambers , Robbie and Manning to shame ,by finally delivering for black folks in this country- if given the chance – especially from the poor neglected island ward Tobago ,that he once called home many moons ago, before dem white Westmooring , Yacht cruising elites, lost him in dey back pocket, and turned him into a loud barking , toothless Rot.
    Having said all that , I just don’t know how to view your commentary ,whether as a slight ,or a compliment,since it is so ambiguous , and have you sounding like you are either running for political office yourself , clamoring for a PPP position, or such like.
    What ever it is , stay engaged on the issues , and keep them honest my friend.
    You know what , it might just be that Geoffery Chaucer ‘Cock and the Fox,’ English Literature Canterbury tale, with Chanticleer , that contributed to my caution , and nothing else. Perhaps that was it. Back to my wise granny. It is time for me to finally put my memoirs together , in tribute to my own great hero, Granny. Yes we can, who knows? Maybe I too can use that as a jumping off point for my own Sweet , Sweet T&T, aka Rainbow Country ,political forays. Get moving kian, you might have to play catch up.
    Warm Regards.

  13. If it sounds to you as though my writing is dubious then to some extent it is really so because nothing happening around us is the way it is written, seen or made to sound. Politics as practised today is a series of sound bites, carefully selected words, images and the making of personalities. Sometimes in the making of the ideal personality a lot of hype, inuendos, characterzation and theater are necesary for the right formula to be emerged. In the last election we saw a lot of that. Manning was characterized as the ‘bad guy’, with the massive help of the media, he (Manning himself) and the living testimonials of those closest to him, the characterization fitted him perfectly. The making of Kamla took on a different form, with the image of Panday (in the same category as Manning), his candidacy could not ignite the emotion and cohesiveness needed to solidify the unity needed to win so his descendancy had to happen in order to give us the bright lights of ‘Kamla’. Mama Kamla as she is lovingly called is a by-product of past discrimination, abuse (political), bypassed for leadership was seen as the ideal for the creation of this new product called Kamla. She epitomized motherhood, caring, a fresh face, integrationish tendencies and most importantly someone that all can feel comfortable with. This is the nature of the product that was carefully crafted so womanhood felt it so easy to be attracted to, men felt it was time to go for and some felt it was ok to ‘crossover’ to. All of this was done with the solid backing and support of the media. The resulting Cabinet appeared on paper to be acceptable to all and sundry but is it? We see true heros like Daaga to activists like Gopeesingh, Ramlogan and Rambachan. In the euphoria for change and the feeling that we have overcomed something there is not much us to be estatic about because we dont know where all of this would take us. So, in the end there is no one with Williams-like personality or Panday-like charisma that can seriously command a sense of true leadership that we can trully believe in. What we have is a set of changing circumstances that would make us feel good for a while, in the meantime nothing really changes and we either remain the same or gets worse. Our challenge is that we must support something, while Rowley may not be the ideal we need a strong opposition to the huge and over sized cabinet that this new government offered. We see new challenges in the form of ‘justice’, we now have several and varying institutions vying to serve justice DPP,Supreme Court, AG, Justice Ministry, Legal Affairs et al. How does all this function and how it is going to work out is anyone’s guess. Much can be said of all the other areas plus the intense attention being paid to the erradication of ‘corruption’ by the past regime. All of this make for an interesting future with little or no settling of one’s comfort as to where we are going. This is why I’m dubious my friend and like you I am concerned for Country and pride.

Comments are closed.