What’s the Manning Plan?

11 Apr

Trinidad & Tobago Parliament


The respective leaderships of the Opposition UNC and minority COP party are expected to buckle down to the final leg of unity talks in 72 hours, COP Chairman Roy Augustus said Friday. COP acting leader Wendy Lee Yuen said that the final segment of talks between both parties was expected no earlier than Monday. Lee Yuen spoke as COP leader Winston Dookeran and COP Deputy Leader Prakash Ramadhar were scheduled to arrive home on Friday night from India and the US, respectively.

UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar also gave the assurance that she would arrange a meeting convenient to both parties regarding the unity issue after the COP leaders returned from overseas. “I will do every thing to ensure we have a one-on-one fight with the PNM for this upcoming election,” she said.

A number of people are already being tipped from both sides as “unity candidates” for various reasons. Lee Yuen said: “We are committed to this and there is no doubt this (unity arrangement) is going to happen.. There’s is a multi-pronged approach and talks are underway.” Augustus said he was more concerned about the foundations of the system than seats at this point. COP’s screening process begins next week. UNC begins screening next Tuesday. (Trinidad Guardian) Taken from the Barbados Advocate, Sunday, April 11, 2010.

Against the backdrop of the above news story, we would like to say a few things about the decision of Trinidad and Tobago’s Prime Minister to advise the President “to dissolve” the country’s Parliament – a mere two and a half years after the last General Election.

There are a number of issues that Prime Minister Patrick Manning must have examined in dissolving Parliament (i) Mrs. Persad-Bissessar has now made the UNC far more electable and is now basking in her new position as Opposition Leader; (ii) there is the UNC no-confidence motion against the government and (iii) the heightening of the perception amongst more and more Trinidad and Tobagonians that
Government’s management is worsening with violent crimes still high and corruption is still pervasive.

The convenient marriage between the UNC and the COP, and all that it brings with it, probably can attract more votes than the PNM. Remember that in the last General Election the UNC and COP combined got more votes than the PNM and Panday blasted Dookeran over that particular result!!!

Manning’s perception of the great threat posed to his party’s reelection bid by a unified UNC and COP partially explains the dissolution of Parliament. The question still remains as to why an election date has not been set as yet. The PDC however expects this to be announced within the next week or so.

Manning’s bid to deal directly with this threat – in one way – through the holding of general elections, will fail mainly because of the fact that the politics of Trinidad and Tobago has long been largely played out on the basis of race. The PNM is largely supported by the Afro-Trinidad and Tobagonians, and the UNC and COP are largely supported by the Indo-Trinidad and Tobagonians. The populations of these two major races are roughly the same. So, any cracks in either of these support bases would be caused by non-racial factors and also will have to be filled by resort to the race factor.

Thus, with Panday’s style of leadership of the UNC (abrasive and dictatorial), and which helped to cause Dookeran and others to form the COP, out of the way – it is felt by many UNC and COP supporters that it is in the best interests of the Indian race for both those parties and supporters to come together for Indians to regain their relative political dominance in the parliament and government of the country.

Manning does not seem to have a strategy for dealing with the UNC /COP amalgamation and hence has not set a date. He is adopting a “wait and see” approach to determine the reaction of Trinidad & Tobagonians to the unified party. The response of the media is especially important. It seems too that Manning is not ready for elections himself. The PNM’s candidate selection process is NOT complete.

However, it is non-sensical and outrageous that Prime Ministers within our English Speaking Caribbean still have this power to say when General Elections and by-Elections are to be held.

The PNM leader is NOT as confident as he was when he called the last General Election. His political mood and spirit is different. He seems more introverted and more subdued than then, and the tone of political language used by him at this stage is different – less inspiring, less up beat than then, and his tactics more determined by the UNC/COP and public sectoral pressure, NOT based on PNM political electoral strategy – it is like the General in an army taking learning lessons from the enemy. Not good signs for Manning and the PNM.

However, this delay in actually setting the date will cause greater political pressure on Manning as to the real or mock reasons why Parliament was dissolved.

A mere No-Confidence motion CANNOT cause a general election ( The Barbados Advocate, Saturday, April 10, 2010).
This Prime Minister would be rallying his troops, so to speak, and would be in a good position to defeat such a motion. Indeed, a No-Confidence Motion is a parliamentary political device sought and best used by the Opposition to offset or off balance a government The history of No-Confidence motions in parliaments in the English Commonwealth shows that they hardly succeed against governments or government ministers.

The decision of Manning to advise the President “to dissolve” Parliament, seems to have caught the UNC and the COP off guard though. This commitment of theirs to have a marriage in time for the General Election, has NOT gone very far beyond that commitment itself. In the above news story, just check what Bissessar is reported to have said and what Augustus and Lee Yuen are reported to have said too. Do they not seem confusing out of harmony out of step some what?

But it does seem that their being caught off guard is inconsequential since it will have little bearing on the next general election outcome in Trinidad and Tobago.

So, there you have it!!



3 Responses to “What’s the Manning Plan?”

  1. The People's Democratic Congress April 12, 2010 at 7:23 am #

    UNC and TOP to “partner” in the election

    The Tobago-based opposition Tobago Organisation of the People will be “partnering” with the United National Congress (UNC) to contest the upcoming General Election.

    This was revealed by TOP leader and Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Minority Leader Ashworth Jack at a brief media conference which followed a meeting of both parties at Rovanel’s Resort, Crown Point, in Tobago, yesterday afternoon.

    Jack asserted that the TOP “remains an independent political organization” and was only entering into a partnership with the UNC to contest the election.

    “The PNM has failed this country and we need to come together to save it,” he declared.

    For her part, UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar explained that both parties had agreed to have “a partnered approach” in contesting the election, in which the UNC would field no candidates in Tobago.

    Additionally, according to the terms of the “Heads of Agreement”, hammered out at the meeting, Persad-Bissessar said both parties would share platforms and the UNC would give “institutional support” to the TOP where necessary. “We are confident the TOP will capture the two Tobago seats,” she said.

    Responding to questions from journalists, the UNC leader stressed the TOP and the UNC will maintain their identities.

    “The TOP is not for rent or for sale; I didn’t come here (to Tobago) to buy the TOP,” she stressed.

    She, however, acknowledged that Tobagonians had a right to be skeptical of any sort of union between a Tobago-based party and a Trinidad-based party because of what had happened in the past. (Trinidad Guardian) – Taken from the Barbados Advocate, Monday, April 12, 2010.

    The above news story does make for very interesting reading concerning the main political strategy of the major Opposition parties in Trinidad and Tobago, which is to come together on a partnership basis and fight the PNM in Trinidad and now, with the above story, in Tobago too.

    It is clear that Ms Persad-Bissessar has got the political momentum going for her and the UNC and when strengthened by these political partnership agreements and when placed in the context of the divisive racial politics of the country, no doubt makes her and the UNC and the other partnering parties, at this stage, very likely favourites “to win” the next General Election in Trinidad and Tobago.


  2. The People's Democratic Congress April 13, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    Some distance below is a bit of Trinidad and Tobago political history – as taken from the Barbados Advocate, Tuesday, April 13, 2010.

    Indeed, reference to this piece of history is so relevant to the political electoral ongoings right now in that country that if there was a need for any one to somewhat project what the main electoral outcome would be at the end of the electoral contest there, here would be one fundamental basis upon which to premise any conclusions about such an outcome.

    As it sands right now, the main Opposition parties the United National Congress ( UNC) and the Congress of the People (COP), are in unity talks in Trinidad to have – as the UNC Political Leader has put it – a “one-on-one fight” against the PNM, and the said UNC has entered into a political partnership with the Tobago-based Organization of the People (TOP), to carry the fight to the PNM in Tobago in the upcoming General Election.

    So, here we go.

    “It would not be the first time that the UNC and a major Tobago political organization formed a coalition to remove a Manning led PNM Government from office. Former UNC political leader Basdeo Panday and former National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) Arthur NR Robinson united their forces in 1995 to put Manning out of government after a snap election in that year.”

    But, which political organizations is the PNM partnering with, if there are any at all to do so?

    Certainly, we do not know.

    But, back to Barbados slightly.

    We in the PDC have long been calling for many patriotic politically driven Barbadians to go and form their own people centred nationalist developmentalist parties – esp. those who can do so – so that at the end of the day there will be many newer serious parties there that can mobilize themselves to defeat both these joke wicked DLP and BLP factions.

    And, too, our call has also long gone out to many very independent politically minded patriotic Barbadians to become independent candidates in their constituencies in next general election in Barbados.

    Right now, the time is ripe to have these two situations evolved in this country. For, it could NOT be a better time than now for these things to happen in this country with both these old archaic time wasting DLP and BLP factions failing and continuing to fail the masses, the middle classes of this country and the country itself miserably and starkly.

    It is time that the DLP and BLP be sent packing by the vast majority of people of this country.

    So, down with the Damned DLP and the Blasted BLP!!



  1. Global Voices Online » Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago: Plan of Action - April 12, 2010

    […] Allegiance wonders what Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Manning's political plan really is. […]

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