The CARICOM islands have parliamentary elections every four years (like in the US). After two years in power, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago decided he would call a national poll two years before it was due. Nothing exigent was facing Manning; nothing shocking was occurring at the time in Trinidad. A few experts explained that Manning was experiencing a psychic transformation in which strange religious windmills were tilting in his mind (we all have windmills in our mind but not the type that Manning had).
Others said that some mystical priest had taken over the consciousness of the then PM of Trinidad and Tobago and he had submitted himself to that personality.
Reminds one of Tsarina Alexandria in Russia whose son was sick. A shady, religious monk, Rasputin, promised the Tsarina to heal him and in the process took undue control of the Russian queen (see the Christopher Lee movie, “Rasputin”).
Anyway, Manning held his early election and not a human being in his party, People’s National Movement (PNM), could have stopped him.
Manning lost. The rest is now history. Manning’s “madness” reveals the type of authoritarian parties the British West Indies produced in colonial times. How Manning still lives in Trinidad is a miracle. You would have thought that the PNM would have literally raced him off the island. They should have done that.
Across the border, we come to Guyana and another party leader, Robert Corbin. There seems to be some strange affliction that has descended upon Manning in Trinidad and Corbin in Guyana.
These two men became mysterious in their behaviours as the years passed on. Robert Corbin is like me so I should understand him… but I don’t. When you grow up poor, and you work your way up through education and become a middle-class citizen, you are endowed with two senses.
You ought to be smart because you grow up on the streets and of course you have a university education. So you have road sense and society sense. Corbin’s career in the PNC earned him the label as the street politician. He was the road boy that the PNC and its maximum leader, Forbes Burnham, relied on to pursue some unorthodox methods.
In later life, Corbin became a lawyer and the Opposition Leader.
Then the Manning-like symptoms began to be manifested. He became a quiet politician in the face of creeping fascistization under President Jagdeo. With experience of over forty years in politics, Corbin had to know that Jagdeo had gone in excessive directions that Burnham would never have contemplated and for reasons including the love of country.
But Mr. Corbin was content on being subdued. The rumour mill took over and it had deleterious consequences for Mr. Corbin. In 2006, his party gave five seats to the AFC in the elections. Robert Corbin had become a political liability.
In 2010, facing another devastation at the poll, Corbin called it “George” in terms of electoral politics. The PNC subsumed itself under a new banner with a decent, patriotic gentleman, David Granger, leading this new outfit into a national election. It barely lost the Presidency and this gentleman is now the Leader of the Opposition.
But Mr. Corbin and his authoritarian party are still around. It seems that no one in the PNC can face off with Mr. Corbin. It seems that the PNC does not have an executive that can disagree with Mr. Corbin.
How APNU can name Keith Scott (a very good friend of mine) to Parliament and not Aubrey Norton has to be one of the mysteries anywhere in the world at the moment. Mr. Corbin chose not to face the electorate because in the opinion of this columnist he was a huge, electoral liability.
On the other hand, Mr. Norton was sent to Linden for eight weeks to reclaim the mining town from the AFC and he did just that. This writer met Mr. Norton in Linden during the campaign and saw him on the platform.
Alright, there seems to be some logic as to why Norton was not sent to Parliament. We are told two terms are your allotment and Norton had two terms. But was Norton told this during the campaign? I called Norton. He told me no. Norton indicated to me that he didn’t serve two terms and he blames Corbin for his exclusion.
Are there APNU Parliamentarians who had two terms and are back in the House? I support term limits for almost everything in life. What about term limits for leaders of political parties? APNU has some explaining to do.
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