Sunday, May 19, 2013

Express Editorial: Paying attention to what Rowley says

Reproduced from the Express newspaper

Opposition Leader Keith Rowley’s urging that the public should pay attention to what he has to say appears to anticipate public fatigue over yet another of his no-confidence motions, this latest one due to engage Parliament on Monday. 

Apart from the early months of cooperation with the Government of the People’s Partnership, the Opposition PNM has been frank about its lack of confidence in the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration. But Dr Rowley must be conscious of the risk he runs if he fails to deliver compelling new material for his arguments to win support outside the House.

He has introduced this no-confidence motion assured of its defeat, given the Government’s wide majority. So clearly, this is not about the votes in the House; it is about confronting the public with his evidence against the Government. Under the right circumstances, it could be a valuable strategy. But if he brings nothing new to the table, it could very well backfire.

The Opposition Leader must necessarily be challenged to go beyond a rehash of the content of front-page and prime-time reports fresh in the public mind, presumably bringing material additionally damaging to the KPB government. By now, he should begin outlining what a Rowley-led administration would do better and more effectively than the People’s Partnership since 2010, and also better and more effectively than the preceding administration of which he had himself been part.
In the nature of politics, it would surprise no one if Monday’s no-confidence motion is really the opening salvo of the PNM’s campaign for the upcoming local government elections. We have, after all, just been launched into the silly season of elections when the public’s attention will be tugged this way and that by competing platforms. In this season, Parliament with its immunity and primetime attention is the most valuable of all platforms. In this context, Speaker Wade Mark will surely have his work cut out for him if he is to protect the Parliament’s already ragged reputation.

Speaking in Tunapuna on Monday, the Prime Minister challenged the Opposition to come up with something more than mere criticism of the Government’s crime initiatives. This assertion that the Opposition is content to criticise and carp, has long been the soft underbelly of opposition politics where the tendency is to condemn without presenting any plan of its own.

It would be a significant advance if Dr Rowley and the PNM would break from the old habit of opposition for opposition’s sake and build a platform on detailed programmes in presenting itself as an alternative government.

Recent political experience has taught the electorate a lot about the emptiness and, indeed, danger, of campaigns full of sound and fury signifying nothing. More than ever, the public wants to see political parties that are prepared to govern.

On Monday, the country will be looking to see whether, having lost all confidence in the Persad-Bissessar administration, the PNM is willing to provide solid reasons why the public must have confidence in the Rowley incarnation of the PNM.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai