ROWLEY’S DOG WHISTLE
Minutes after Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley’s bizarre media conference on the Venezuelan gas fiasco last Friday, one of his party’s social media lackeys called for Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar to face a firing squad.
Rowley’s media session had served its purpose – to sound a dog whistle to his political groupies.
His depiction of Persad-Bissessar as a “traitor” was as provocative and ill-founded as Dr. Eric Williams’ “hostile and recalcitrant minority” declaration of 1958 and Dr. Rudranath Capildeo’s “arm yourself” appeal of 1961.
The Prime Minister deftly dodged the alleged documented indictment of the Opposition Leader, and delivered one of his packaged ferocious tirades against her.
That eruption was followed two days later with an acerbic statement, which again sidestepped the raging concerns of independent and patriotic minds and the two leading daily newspapers.
Then, Rowley dispatched toady Security Minister Stuart Young to Monday’s media spectacle with a spin that evokes the epithet “cock-and-bull story”.
In the succeeding days, a number of political and media spinmeisters were deployed to browbeat the country and to deride critics.
The Prime Minister remains unmoved by entreaties like that from the Guardian newspaper that “no amount of unseemly attack and going below the dignity of the office to call Ms. Kamla Persad-Bissessar a traitor will change the risk you have put the country at.”
Nor has he heeded the Express’ plea to “address this issue comprehensively in Parliament…”
In fact, with the country in the throes of an unmatched medical and economic crisis, the Prime Minister has relegated Parliament to a plaything for political grandstanding and routine legislation.
Dammit, this week the Senate was debating an amendment to copyright legislation!
The House of Representatives recently convened to mull over a miscellaneous bill that included updating the penalty for cockfighting!
There has been no parliamentary accounting or debate on the huge funding in the government’s hands or Finance Minister Colm Imbert’s recent mid-year budget review dressed up as a “minister’s statement”.
Nor have elected representatives debated the controversial phased re-opening of the economy and the survival struggle of more than 100,000 displaced workers and thousands of micro and small businesses.
The Express appropriately slammed the lack of transparency and accountability in spending $6 billion in new funding.
“In any year, vigilant accountability is a priority but none moreso than an election year, when the advantages of incumbency are at their most pronounced through the commingling of State and political party interests,” the newspaper said.
Rowley last week made a belligerent electoral address in presenting campaign finance reform legislation, a measure the PNM promised in 2015 as “an urgent priority.”
The Express did not miss the irony of presenting such legislation “just when the governing party enjoys the unfettered freedom to withdraw, borrow and distribute massive sums…”
Of note is that during World War 2, Winston Churchill held regular parliamentary sessions, appraising legislators of general plans and initiating vibrant debate.
His timeless “I have nothing but blood, toil, tears and sweat” parliamentary address is now 80 years old, having been delivered on May 13, 1940.
In recent times, the TT Government has not covered itself with glory in respecting the Parliament, even while Britain’s Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer are aggressively debating Covid-19 matters, including public spending.
But Rowley’s sole focus is on Persad-Bissessar, who lives rent free in his mind.
Bolstered by the Prime Minister’s take-no-prisoners style, the party lackey returned to social media to brand Persad-Bissessar as “the worst human being ever created.”
In this general election season, when – to adapt David Rudder’s prose, “some men lose their reason” – Rowley’s incendiary remarks and coded terms are playing well with his minions.
And that’s all that really matters to him.
ROWLEY’S DOG WHISTLE