Great is the PNM. But will it prevail?

Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley
By Selwyn Ryan
June 27, 2010 –

Two years ago, Ken Valley expressed the view that Patrick Manning had done some good things for Trinidad and Tobago, and that the People’s National Movement (PNM) ought to protect his legacy. ’If we leave him as political leader, he’ll continue to slide…I have an obligation towards the PNM and Trinidad. If we don’t intervene, the PNM will lose the next election.’ Mr Valley may have been a better prophet than Rev Pena.

But is the PNM dead as some allege? My own view is that even though the party was vanquished in the May Day election, and will probably be trounced in the Local Government Elections, it will neither vanish nor disappear from the political firmament. Great parties do not normally die because they have lost an election.

We note that the party secured 285,354 or 39.5 per cent of the votes cast which was a mere 14,500 less than that which it secured in 2007. Given all that the party had to deal with, especially the misgovernance of its political leader, that was an unbelievable achievement. I had expected the party to lose all but its hard core support. In the absence of exit polls, it is however difficult to determine how many former PNM voters actually switched to the Congress of the People (COP), Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) or the United National Congress (UNC), stayed at home, or remained with their grand old party. Our judgment is that many votes that would normally have gone to the PNM went instead to COP which secured 108,143 or 15 per cent of the votes cast and secured 12 seats. Indeed, the real threat to the viability of the PNM will come from the COP which many middle class blacks now see as a more acceptable option for their political allegiance. COP has in fact inherited the ONR and the NAR constituencies, as well as all the smaller parties that have hitherto challenged the PNM’s hegemony.

The PNM party base however still seems secure, and the new leadership hopes that many who could not bring themselves to ‘vote for dat’, would eventually return ‘home’.

The number returning would depend on how the new Prime Minister and the coalition functions, how the PNM performs in Parliament, and of course how the economy performs. Of critical significance too would be the performance of the new political leader of the party. Mr Rowley has a great deal of support in the Afro-creole community and Tobago, but there are quite a few others who claim that he is too ethnically assertive.

Mr Manning may have had this in mind when he sought to maintain a place in the leadership circle on an interim or provisional basis, hoping perhaps that he might be politically reborn, and that God might contrive to have him in place to conclude his mission in the event that the coalition came apart as occurred in 1987.

Manning, however, eventually got the message that he had lost the mandate of Heaven, and that he had to go. His dismissal was brutal as it was swift, but it came as a relief to most PNM supporters, some of whom felt he should also have given up his seat and also apologised to all the people whose livelihoods and welfare he sacrificed on the altar of his own ambition.

It may however be that having Mr Manning in Parliament as the designated scapegoat may relieve the political pressure on Mr Rowley who would not have to bear the brunt alone for all the ills and policy errors of the previous government.

One assumes that Mr Manning will attract a great deal of the opposition’s fire from both inside and outside the Parliament which might make it somewhat easier for Mr Rowley to do the job he has to do as the new Opposition Leader. One does not however know how Mr Manning will deal with all the muck that would be raked up and thrown at him by the new government, but then, he brought the outhouse down on his own head.

And what of Mr Imbert who also personified the arrogance of which the party was accused? Party members were relieved that Mr Imbert chose not to pursue his ‘ambition’ to become leader of the parliamentary opposition and that he agreed to support Mr Rowley in the ‘interest of peace’. His advisers must also have told him that he did not stand a ghost of a chance if he were to challenge Mr Rowley for the political leadership of the party. Polling data have consistently shown that Mr Imbert has little or no popular support in the PNM. Many in fact regret that he did not lose his seat.

The Prime Minister’s decision to hold the Local Government Elections on July 26 poses additional problems for Mr Rowley and the PNM. Mr Rowley has put a brave face on his dilemma, warning the national community that the PNM is no pushover. ‘The PNM is not an election party . It is a deeply rooted organisation that lost an election. Our roots are very deep and we are very strong.

We are in a position to give a good account of ourselves in a local election, and all plans are being put in place to do just that.’ It was a brave statement, but there is no concealing the fact that the party will be seriously tested in the next few weeks.

The party is demoralised as a result of the May 24 election, and one assumes it is also short of funds. The new leadership is no doubt hoping that apostates would return to help the party in its time of dire need as has occurred before. The problem is that the period between May 24 and July 26 is too brief and Kamla’s honeymoon may have run its course.

In retrospect, it was that Mr Rowley campaigned on behalf of the party during the last elections. Had he not done so, as some, in their fear of a return of Mr Manning felt he ought not to have done, he would have had a much more difficult time rallying the party. Now he can legitimately tell party members that the ship is afloat once more under new captaincy.

The new commander’s task is twofold; one is the short run problem of reattracting to the party’s base those who switched to COP because of their allergic reaction to Patrick Manning. It is not an option which many want to embrace at the present time. The second task is to radically restructure and rebrand the party in such as way as to make it relevant not only to its base, but equally important, to the many who are claiming that the party is no longer the natural party of government, but a ‘sub culture’ which only appeals to the its tribal totems. To survive, one needs roots. To grow, flourish, and provide shade, one needs to encourage branch growth. Without such growth, one will no longer be able to say, as Mr Manning loved to: ‘great is the PNM, and it shall prevail’. It would be a sad day for Mr Manning if in time he is not only accused of effecting a coup against his own government, but also against the once mighty PNM as well. Some are already saying that the outcome of the May Day election symbolises the reality that thePNM\Williams’ era has run its course, and that it needs to be replaced by an alternative that is more consensual and inclusive.

-To be concluded

20 thoughts on “Great is the PNM. But will it prevail?”

  1. Rowley: All hands on deck
    All PNM hands on deck! That was the rallying call yesterday to PNMites from new “captain” Keith Rowley, as he left the party’s four deputy leaders in place. In addition, Rowley announced that former minister and MP John Rahael would be PNM’s national campaign manager for the upcoming local government elections.

    Rowley: PNM ready for battle

    Rowley keeps old guard for Local Government elections

    Speak up, new leader tells PNM
    New political leader of People’s National Movement (PNM) Dr Keith Rowley, pledging to do things differently, has urged members to “speak up” without fear of victimisation or spite.

    Local Govt elections: Screenings start today

    1. I do not agree the use of ‘tribe’ for PNM. The party is the only one to field candidates in all constituencies every election. In 1986, it got only 3 seats – a very small tribe indeed. Yet the DLP/ULF/UNC has never won on it’s own and moreover, has always held sway in a certain section of the country. These are seats that the PNM never won and which only get into Government in a coalition. That is tribal voting! Other parties have not won on their own because they are class based and that is a matter of economic fortunes.
      The PNM is a true national party, in that its election is dependent on policies; its base is not communal or dependent on the fortunes of a particular class. I know because over the years I have voted both for an against the party.

      1. The PNM is a tribal party. All they have done is for the members of the tribe. Nevertheless, they are now past history and saying that they are a national party is a psychological joke interpose on the nation. How can you be a national party when your ministers wore balisier ties while conducting the affairs of the nation. The Nazis wore the swastika because they were promoting the Aryan race. The PNM members wear the balisier because they are promoting tribalism. Tribalism is rooted in the DNA of PNM leadership. Here is a few examples — Manning said “kidnapping are targetted” meaning that tribals are excluded. Cudjoe said “you must take from them” meaning that tribals must steal from others as a form of repatriation, Sugar Aloes sang “kidnap them” meaning the tribals are authorised to kidnap non-tribals. These are just a few examples of the tribal cord that runs deep in the PNM. To deny it is silly, stupid and contemptuous at best.

  2. hahaha. taht party was never great.
    Just a bunch of hypocrites, racist and money grabbers.
    Great is TnT. not the pnm.

    1. You know nothing about the PNM.It is indeed the Greatest Political Party in the Caribbean and cannot and will not die.You will observe that after every lost election The PNM gets stronger. “GREAT IN PNM AND WILL ALWAYS PREVAIL”. That is the will of God.If you don’t believe,please do some research on the Balisier flower and learn of it’s natural and Godly powers.IT CAN NEVER DIE.

      1. Always prevail? Never die? You should be aware that hunters avoid balisier plants in the forest because of the prevalence of ‘snakes’. Try to control yourself, the PNM has been mortally wounded.

      2. The PNM is post colonial party, still promoting colonial ideas in the 21st century. As a new generation of voters arise(as was shown in the last election), the PNM will remain in the back seat. Rebranding, rehashing ideas, recyclyling old ideas cannot be sufficient anymore for parties to win elections. The Mbotu style of leadership that saw billions wasted on personal agendas will not be tolerated by an intelligent, hardworking class of Trinis. However, the faithful will seek to keep this party alive with its’ post colonial mindset. To them I say give the PNM a good burial and come into the 21st century.

  3. The PNM gave us the freedom to chose ,it also gave us free and fair elections and all the nay Sayers should realize it’s because of this great party and it’s members and leaders we are what we are ,not because of some fundamentalist movement.Great is the PNM and we SHALL prevail

  4. Cut it out Mrs. Polly Tricks ,with your baseless assertions, about greatest political party.No one beyond grade school , or of any real intellect cares ,if the PNM, COP, NAR, UNC, PP,TOP,Tapia House, NJAC,Club88, and DAC, is,was, or will be great.
    All we ask of our politicians, is that when elected,they attempt to do what they promised / were mandated to do while campaigning- not only for the narrow tribal base, but for all citizens.
    Hopefully you were kidding about this nonsense about Baliser flower, and it’s links to natural Godlike powers.
    I swear that sometimes, I am ashamed to call myself a citizen of this underachieving country. Did I hear that our world renown , Nobel winning writer V.S. Naipaul, is soon about to publish a book entitled,’How to Denounce your Country, despise it’s people,with little remorse, and live to tell?
    Part of the PNM’s problem is that it is still stuck in the Dr. Williams 20th century , anachronistic mold . Surprise, surprise that they were nipped at the finishing tape by Madame Kamla, led by her well greased ,savvy ,political handlers.
    Talk about blunders , the first move , Dr. Rowley, aka de Rot/ Mason Hall Kid made after obtaining leadership, is to offer folks like Pennelope ,token deputy leadership positions , to keep them under a vice grip,just like self centered Eric , and Manning before him did.
    What instead ,he Rowley can really do at this juncture pollytricks ,is finally drive a steak into the heart of one time self opinionated egomaniac Patrick Manning ,and his opportunist sidekick wife, so as to get rid of them both once and for all, then demand a snap electionto replace him , for his seat.
    They can follow this by burning this foolish wild flower symbol , create a new name , and philosophy for the party ,in it’s quest to again regain the confidence of the people , and power, before the present growing , runaway ,wrecking ball, ‘political barbarians,’ can cause irreparable damage to our country-of both a constitutional , or natural manner.
    Although never wrong,I stand corrected.

    1. I am glad to know that sometimes you are ashamed to call yourself a citizen of this country.Please do us a favour.GET OUT. You are adigrace to feel that way. You can say or do what you like you or no one can destroy the PNM.You have no clue as to Greatness.Whilst the others will fall within a year or two,PNM will still be standing.Did you read the Newspaper Headline”RECORD TURN AT PNM SCREENING CANDIDATES FOR LOCAL ELECTIONS”.That is what you call greatness.”GREAT IS PNM AND IT SHALL PREVAIL.”

  5. ha, all pnm losers, its the worst party ever in the history of TnT.
    I hope that we will never see that type of blight rule TnT again.
    Great is the UNC and partners (NJAC, NAR, TOP ect.)

  6. Hey Farros my friend , just trying to keep it light , while ensuring that our collective eyes remain focus on what matters.
    One’s race , party,particular enclaves , social class , past stewardship ,or lofty ancestry, means absolutely nothing,when it comes to moving forward as a nation.
    Love nation over tribe, and most importantly,keep them honest, as the complicit ,corporate 4th Estate ,is fast asleep, and or fixated on distractive nonsense.

  7. The pnm was originally based on hypocrisy founded by Eric williams-a noted racist who used the Indians like Kamal mohammed,Dr Winston Mahabir,Errol Mahabir et al to gain supremacy in the initial elections–he spat on them & went on to introduce the “infamous voting machines” to rig elections forever–the heat was on & he then knew that he had to gerrymander the Electoral Boundaries & voter pad “marginal seats” with HDC housing while closing his eyes & openly welcoming small islanders from Jamaica,Grenada,Barbados etc to boost the pnm electorate!
    Manning & Rowley finished that agenda with the HDC & increasing # of constituencies combined with changing the Electoral Boundaries!
    We now have a PP Party that is comprised of a cross section of T&T citizens who vow to bring us back to FREEDOM!!Stop the Patronage,nepotism,feeding frenzy from our Treasury now!!!
    Eradicate the pnm forever BUT at the same time form a solid Opposition similar to the PP–not the current tribalism in the pnm!!

    1. You people will never get racism out of your minds.As I said sometime ago and do not try to fool yourselves,POLITICS IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO as other multiracial countries around the world are no longer about roads and Bridges or what I got or did’t get as the Afro Trinis think. It is about Racial dominance as the Indo Trinis think.This is ONE TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO.Stop the racist talk .Everyday in the News paper the Indo Trinis are always talking about Tribe which is fact(TRIPE).Stop it and think TRINI(TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO).

  8. Oh how you are mistaken Williams. Your uncle Eric Williams did not have a racist bone in his body my friend. His first wife was a Yankee caucasian,and his third a Chinese. Some of his best friends were non African such as O’ Holarran, of Canadian fame.Contrary to what you naively think , he did not use Indians such as Kamal Mastana Bahar/ ADB loans fame, and Errol Japanese Garden Mahabir to gain supremacy. That relationship as we non revisionist can attest ,was a mutually beneficial relationship. How else can you explain why the PNM won the past 196 out of 200 elections since white savage, conniving Massa ,departed?
    The irony is that Indians did not learn the basic principle in politics of reaching out to the other , when it comes to multiracial / multi ethic societies, because they were so busy perfecting their money grab , pontificating amongst the tribe , about questionable religions, that caused the deaths of over 500 millions of their cousins in the Southern Asian ancestral lands of India, Pakistan,Bangladesh , as well as Sri Lanka,and playing the lifetime victims – even as they shared in an equitable fashion ,all of the socio economic ,and political spoils of this blessed land.
    I could live with most of of pitiful assertions you’ve made about your fellow African national soul mates, as I suspect that you too , are just another ignorant fool ,that was obviously brainwash by your elitist , neo tribal , divisive leaders over time -influenced in part, by a distorted notion of self importance , and sense of superiority against anyone that are devoid of blue eyes, pail skin , and blond hair.It is when you decide to display your stupidity by making accusations of successive political losses, that were due to gerrymandering, rigged elections, and HDC maneuvers with ulterior motives , I have to stop you.
    As I have asked you jokers repeatedly on this board , but never got a serious answer, if that foolish thesis argument of electoral fraud holds sway , then explain what occurred when the Indo tribe was successful at the polls? Did the rigging machinery go asunder? Why are Indians not also encouraged to leave the terrible Indo enclaves that they were force to live in over so many decades , to come and live in those wonderful pristine ‘Brazilian like Favella’ quarters that African great grand kids were fortune to escape to , once Massa had little uses for them ?
    Have no fear my friend , we are concerned JUST LIKE YOU , and prepared to halt any form of impropriety , abuse of authority, and corruption we see emerging from any political barbarian that we observe lurking along the corridors of power , covered in sheep skin. I am with you Williams ,“stop the Patronage,nepotism,feeding frenzy from our Treasury now!” While we are at it, yes, eradicate tribalism.
    A word of warning, Jack Warner, Errol Mclod, Wade Mark, David Abdullah, and Winston Peters,ain’t no ANR Robinson, Selby Wilson, Ken Gordon, and Karl Hudson Phillip, so don’t expect this love feast to continue unabated as occurred in 86 , without your leader having to fork over a substantial pound of flesh very close to the proverbial heart in due course. There is nothing more despicable than phonies with evil in their hearts folks. Let’s keep them honest , yes? The reason is simple, too much is at stake , for us to do otherwise.

  9. The PMM (People Nationl Movement or POOR NAKED MEN)is not dead They have simply been stripped of their clothing by the Partnership during the last election. The Partnership has a good chance of doing what is best for the population since it is made up parties with different ideas who are prepared to unite and work together towards the goals that they set in the best interest of T & T. One cannot fool the people all the time which the PNM did for too long. They were done in by being too complacent and taking the people for granted. It would take a lot of hard work for them to come back. Rowley is the wrong choice as a leader. True leaders are committed to telling the truth both to themselves and and others because they understand that in the truth is the true power. True leaders do not utilize tools of intimidation,aggression and judgementalism to manipulate and control but instead embrace a heartfelt vision of the best in others to motivate and encourage if their forward journey is to be successful. If the PNM under Rowley wants to return, they should mourn their loss and their past failures and move forward with a clear vision of the new possibilities and the courage to accept change and loss. Does the PNM under his leadership CONTAINS THE ETHIC OF COURAGE AND ARE THEY UNDAUNTED by their failure?

  10. PNM, served its time. Now is the time for T&T to change and move ahead.It will be many year to come for PNM to have some power. Citizens of trinidad have come to realize that the days of PNM and lack of people support is over.
    Now it is time for me to return home after 45 years.

  11. Hey Rampersad-FL, and Augustus, I am with you 100% when you say, to hell with these fools that constituted the PNM. As a matter of fact , you could hire me to help string all the top dogs from that party alive , after quick prosecution, and all their appeals have been exhausted at the much beloved British Privy Council, in the next 15 years, when the PP would be long gone for eleven years.
    Now what I want you to do is keep your political ecstasy going ,as you’ll need it , for as sure as night follows day, Uncle Jack Warner is coming for piece of his Prime Ministerial political power action.

    [link removed]

    Do not for a single moment think , that this is Kamal Mohammed , and Errol Mahabir PNM operation here. That guy did not invest half his fortunes to see the UNC in power , and to smell the petticoat of Queen Kamla for the next four or less years.
    Do not sleep on Gypsy, Errol Mc Loud, and such African luminaries my friend , for they would spend your 30 pieces of silver of course , but won’t be token puppets to push a skewed agenda.
    However, I have been wrong before.

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