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Restore COP to its original moorings

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

As a past member of the executive and former chairman of the Youth Congress of this formerly great party, the Congress of the People (COP), I feel constrained to lament that the remaining few who continue their stranglehold on the party seem to have not learned the lessons or the heard the messages of the electorate back in 2015 and even during its term in office. I read with great bewilderment, the trio named thus far to have been approached for the leadership contest: a nonstarter, a failed leader and another who left to form a party of her own.

Where this country finds itself with yet another government that continues to fail to secure the future of its people, countered by an opposition deluded into thinking that they are a government-in-waiting, it puzzles me that those who failed the party (and more so the people who placed their trust in them), now feel that they can attempt to scam the population yet again.

The COP as a party is not flawed. Having fallen into the wrong hands on many occasions, it has laid waste to its original promise of changing the culture of the politics of T&T, choosing instead the path of political expediency by tying its fate and trajectory to the dictates of the United National Congress. Not one of the names presented thus far have any political currency that can persuade those who once supported the party to return under a promise of real change.

The people of this country are still yearning for a viable alternative. That will only come if genuine, sincere, principled and visionary leadership emerges to reclaim the party and restore it to its original moorings and mandate of getting the politics right.

The past incarnations of the party did not get it right when they chose political patronage and self-serving interests over meritocracy as they carved up the country’s positions of power. They did not get it right when they allowed the independence of the party to be compromised as they fought to maintain those positions instead of upholding the founding principles of the party. They did not get it right when they allowed themselves to support the subversion of democracy, ironically in the very name of democracy, through the many legislative blunders.

And they will not get it right if they continue on this fool’s errand to rebuild a façade of the party, the only purpose of which is another attempt to sanitise the stink of the UNC, while proffering the false narrative of a reunited, re-engineered and rebranded group of opposition forces to replace what currently obtains as the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan is however one leader who can get it right. Her good reputation has not been blemished by the scandals and accusations of betrayal as so many others have. Her service to people and country is unquestioned and meritorious, notwithstanding the many attacks inside and outside of her own party. Her proven independence and strength is something that can regain the trust of a weary and wary body politic and offer another opportunity to chart a new future for this country.

The youths of the party who have supported her on numerous occasions do so now, not just out of personal affection and admiration nor do we do it for renewed hope in the re-invigoration of the COP.

We do it because we know that in the face of growing apathy, cynicism and complacency to the current practice of politics and the types of leadership that obtain, it is necessary for Carolyn to once again grab the opportunity presented to offer sincere, honest and inclusive service to the many that desire it. I know it is something that we and future generations of young change-makers can benefit from.

Jeremy Steffan Edwards


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