Sunday, October 20, 2002

Clevon Raphael interviews Fitzgerald Hinds in today's Express. (For those readers now tuning in, Hinds's & Eudine Job-Davis's decision to refuse non-Cabinet junior ministerial posts in the new PNM gov't has raised the crucial issue of representation. A fact that many political observers have long recognised has finally been blown wide open: T&T's House of Representatives actually represents almost no one & has no real influence over government's actions. The House is a rubber stamp for Cabinet, & Cabinet is a rubber stamp for the prime minister.)

Here's Hinds replying to one of Raphael's questions:

"Do you intend to rock the boat as the administration goes along?

"No, sir. No, sir. I will never rock this great PNM boat at all. I would just do all in my power to ensure the PNM gets stronger and better, and what I want to say is this—when you bring young people into an organisation, including the PNM, you cannot expect old ideas, you have to expect brand new, young, fresh ideas."

Mr. Hinds, here's a brand new, young, fresh idea for you: rock the boat. You don't have to cross the floor or try to bring down the government. Just speak your mind & vote your conscience & truly advocate the interests of your constituents, even if it means disagreeing with your prime minister from time to time. As a backbencher you aren't bound by the convention of collective Cabinet responsibility (which in T&T just means "follow the leader, leader, leader"). Mr. Manning won't like it & he'll turn the Whip on you, but never mind that. Loyalty to your party & your government doesn't have to mean blind loyalty. Go brave. Start a revolution. Martin Daly has the same advice:

"Free of the encumbrance of political debt, he will certainly be unfettered in commenting constructively on legislation, provided the Chair does not succumb to instructions not to recognise him. He could well be a genuine legislator entering that branch of Government which is sparsely populated because most legislators are constrained by the gift of their Ministries and the accompanying perks not enjoyed by ordinary legislators."

Prove that you're truly a man of the people, Mr. Hinds, & help our country grow up. And persuade Ms. Job-Davis to do the same.

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