In the time it took me to write this piece, a political party of rejects was born and buried.
From launch to collapse, a grand total of 13 days. A collapse that was predicted from day one through numerous memes by Trinidad’s citizens. The force was with us, and now the force has left.
It was fairly apparent from its onset that this party had
only one direction in which to go. It was comprised of a group of people who had two
things in common: they were all part of the COP arm of the People’s
Partnership; and most of them had been fired unceremoniously by Kamla
Persad-Bissessar for one reason or another. Using the last bit of social
currency they had in a country like Trinidad, where class and colourism go hand
in hand, they came together and designated themselves the Third Force Movement.
The term third force refers to a way of thinking. In local politics it was
first used by Simbhoonath Capildeo to discuss alternative forms of government.
People who are against the ideals of the status quo. So, for a party cobbled
together by a lawyer and a group of businessmen there is incredible irony in
calling themselves or their party the Third Force Movement. How can you be
anti-status quo while being the status quo?
Hamel-Smith, Yetming, the Griffiths and Pires clearly consider
that the 33% of the electorate described as marginal voters must be stupid. Their
contempt for the intelligence of the voter base they planned to represent was
obvious from the moment they launched. Without even acknowledging the roles
they played, or didn’t play, in holding the current government accountable,
Hamel-Smith urged people to trust them. The very people whose trust he had
squandered for 5 years. When asked why, his response was both vague and
dismissive. We are expected to believe that as President of the Senate he had
no influence or power in government. The same President of the Senate whose
letters as acting President of the Republic influenced the Section 34 investigation and whose
emails sought to sway opinion on the Run-off Bill (2014)? But, then, he also said
at the same press conference that terms like good governance and accountability
are abstract. Yes, after five years of parroting those words for this
government, now that he has parted ways, they are abstract. And his new party,
the Third Force Movement, was going to deal with concrete issues.
What are those concrete issues? I’m glad you asked. Campaign
finance reform, procurement legislation and electoral reform. After hearing
that list of policies, it stands to reason that this must be a pretty principled
group of politicians, right? Within the first hour of his party’s life, when
questioned about campaign financing, Hamel-Smith refused to come clean about
his financiers. So, the party that is promoting campaign finance reform as an
urgent political issue won’t reveal the source of its funding. If that isn’t a
textbook definition of hypocrisy, then I don’t know what is.
The entire party also refused to explain the presence of
Phillip Edward Alexander on their platform. One of the overarching ideals associated
with third force thinking is the absence of tribalism and race-based philosophies.
The assumption is that a party speaking to unaligned voters is itself
devoid of ethno-based alignment and does not employ or deploy race-baiting as a
strategy. Yet you have Philip Edward Alexander on your platform? A man who uses
social media often to promote stereotypes and rant about “black people”. So much so that
in the last week or so screen grabs of some of his racist rants were being
widely circulated via Facebook and Twitter. To hear Nicole Dyer-Griffith
express concern over revelations of Edward Alexander’s Facebook rants you’d swear
she’d only met him last week and decided to start a political party with him.
And this brings me to my final point on the issue. A group
of people, all former servants of the public in some form or fashion, got
together and started a political party without structure? They weren’t
consulting with each other? They had no plan? No communication strategies? Were
unaware that the election is September 7th? It took them by
surprise? And they were in charge of positions and portfolios here? Is this a
sign of how they handled public business? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all,
this is a party, that in its first political platform meeting in Boissiere
village, Maraval, before a nation hungry for alternatives and ideas after five
years of abysmal governance, chose to have a wine and jam session as part of