By Raffique Shah
April 20, 2014
The UNC minister or activist who mobilised a gang of hooligans to disrupt a public meeting staged by dissident Barrington “Skippy” Thomas last Thursday evening should be taken before the party’s firing squad and shot—with “goat pills”. He (or she) has done irreparable damage to the United National Congress’s image, if that is at all possible.
Let me explain. Before that display of hooliganism, I had heard the name “Skippy” mentioned in the media from time to time, but I paid no attention. I did not know what the man looked like, and cared even less for his thoughts. As far as I was concerned, he was just another eat-a-food party hack, hollow between the ears, unworthy of my time or attention.
On Thursday night, though, a friend telephoned me, asking if I was listening to Skippy’s crucifixion. I had no idea what he was talking about until he explained, saying the action was live on radio. So I tuned in. I was shocked by the cacophony that emanated from the airwaves: flatulence from the platform, excreta from what appeared to be a mob running wild.
By the time the melee ended half an hour or so later, I would learn from the radio reporter that half the small gathering at the indoor venue were placard-bearing UNC supporters who disrupted a meeting called by Skippy, who had promised to “bare all” about the happenings in the ruling coalition. They jeered him, mounted the stage in a threatening manner, but he carried on.
In fact, he was about to stage a “questions from the floor” segment, but wisely cancelled that when he saw the hostiles queue up to flay him.
Now, as I remarked earlier, I don’t know this “Skippy” fella and I have no time to waste listening to his woes or exposés. But when the party, or some person or people in the party, could expend time, money and manpower to prevent him from speaking out, it signals they would go all out to silence him.
Why? I ask. What information could this “peewat” possess that makes him dangerous, a threat to the Government? Why would they resort to the kind of hooliganism at public meetings that I thought we had seen the last of in the 1960s? I campaigned for the ULF in the 1976 elections, I spoke at meetings in Water Hole, Diego Martin, Belmont, John John, Morvant, La Brea—and nowhere did I encounter anything like that.
Often, there were hecklers: Shah, yuh talkin sh..! Yuh is a dawg! And being a good platform speaker meant mastering the art of responding with a witty retort that would cause the crowd to erupt in laughter. Indeed, I lament the loss of the heckler, victim of mass meetings that see thousands of supporters transported to choreographed performances complete with drama, lights, action.
What happened last Thursday, though, not only took us backward a few decades, but set the stage for downright dangerous campaigning in next year’s election. Because whichever UNC fool thought it was a great idea to hound Skippy to the ground might well be tempted to do likewise at a People’s National Movement (PNM) meeting: send a gang of URP workers to placard and disrupt the PNM.
Can you imagine what could happen in such case? Campaigning could degenerate into violence, the consequences of which we dare not even think of. Bear in mind that today’s missiles of choice are not bottles and stones and rotten eggs of yesteryear. Today, we are talking of guns, machine guns. The spectre is positively frightening.
I note National Security Minister Gary Griffith swiftly denounced the disruption and spelt out the law on such activities. But no one in the ruling party is owning up to having stage-managed the unruly intervention. They are suggesting it was spontaneous combustion. Yes—and Skippy is a priest!
There was the man confessing to having organised similar disruptions on behalf of the party. He publicly tore up a CEPEP contract (so he said), which exposed another side of the rotten governance that the People’s Partnership has inflicted on the country, contracts for the boys and girls. He hinted at gross irregularities in many other areas.
His biggest self-indictment was confessing to having stayed silent while all these wrongdoings occurred. As a sideshow, the trio of Ramesh Maharaj, Jack Warner and David Abdulah, who seem to turn up at every anti-UNC, anti-Partnership happening, also engaged in some confessions of sins of commission that must work wonders for their souls this Easter weekend.
Maybe it is not coincidental that we are witnessing a collective washing of their PP-ed hands, Pontius Pilate style, as the rulers of the country descend into an orgy of crucifixions—of their own, their one-time friends, and of journalists, the latter being the politicians’ perpetual “bobolees” to beat up on not only on Good Friday, but year-round.
Are we in for uncertain times! As elections draw closer, there will be amazing scenes. Judas will walk with Jesus. God and Mammon will confer. Rawan and Ram will embrace. And there will come to pass some political alliances and resurrections that will defy rationale. Brace for it.