WARNER IN ROWLEY'S CORNER
ANDRE BAGOO Tuesday, October 1 2013
PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last night launched the People’s Partnership local government campaign by signaling to voters that the ILP’s Jack Warner is in Opposition PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley’s corner, and a vote for one, is a vote for the other.
Persad-Bissessar, the UNC political leader addressed a large, jubilant crowd at a coalition rally at Harris Promenade in San Fernando. At the very start of her speech, Persad-Bissessar said Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP) would perform the role of a “third party” which traditionally split votes to open the door for a low-margin victory for the PNM.
“There is a ILP/PNM alliance,” the Siparia MP said. “They may posture and pose on occasion to create the impression of being political opponents...but the backroom hand-slapping is taking place in all its glee. The strength of a failing PNM today is the ILP.
“Warner has given hope to a party that found itself in the throes of a severe leadership battle. Keith Rowley is on the political life support of Warner’s ILP. Imagine the very same Rowley who clamoured and shouted so hard for Warner’s ejection, can embrace him today out of political expediency,” the Prime Minister charged.
She said third parties always clear the way for low-margin PNM wins. “Third parties always help the PNM. It did during the ONR’s time. It did so during the time when Team Unity fought the UNC and again when the COP and UNC fought separately.
“It has the dangerous potential of doing so now. And that is the true purpose which the ILP serves today. So the question you have to ask yourself is this. Is your vote for the ILP worth the election of Keith Rowley? The very same Rowley who embraced Jack with his infamous quotation on their relationship, ‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ We must not split the vote. We must stay together,” Persad-Bissessar urged.
Persad-Bissessar once more addressed the claim of a cabal controlling her, saying she accepted Warner’s resignation not because of pressure from any cabal but because of the damning findings of the Sir David Simmons Concacaf report, which said Warner committed fraud and deception in his football affairs.
“His resignation didn’t come about through any so-called cabal. His resignation wasn’t the result of my desire to see him go. Quite the contrary, I had always supported Jack Warner through thick and thin,” she said. “But the moment had come when allegations had become a scathing report from an eminent jurist who headed a Commission which Warner refused to appear before or even send a submission in his defence. It was an untenable position and he knew it. “For me, it was a painful moment on a personal level. But what was one to do but accept the resignation offered? I didn’t do so as the head of my household, I didn’t do so as the leader of my party, I did so as leader of this country, in the interest of the country,” Persad-Bissessar said.
She said Warner, instead of clearing his own name, has sought to attack the Government.
“Over time, Mr Warner would have an opportunity to clear his name and a path back to a glorious return if he so desired. But in the interim, right over wrong had to prevail,” she said.
In a shift from the approach in the Chaguanas West bye-election when the jurist’s findings were not often mentioned on the political platform, Persad-Bissessar quoted chunks from the report, noting this was the context of the Warner resignation. One section quoted read, “The committee found that Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer committed acts of fraud and misappropriated funds from the footballing body as well as violating rules and code of ethics governing the management of the game.” The Prime Minister continued, “Now how could I, given this summation from an independent commission established to look at what happened at Concacaf by the eminent Sir David Simmons, just look the other way? Mr Warner knew it, I knew it and the world knew it.
“The time had come for Jack Warner to resign. I tell you all of this today so we can put an end to this fable of a cabal forcing Jack Warner out. Warner was given a red card through his own actions and called foul by what he did and failed to do...not by me. He left the political field of his party simply because there was no other choice if we were to play by the rules of fair play and sound moral conduct.”
She added, “Within days, Mr Warner went from the villain in the media to a voice of freedom against the People’s Partnership.” Persad-Bissessar questioned whether the ILP was a real political party. “Who is the ILP?” she asked.
“It is built around the exaggerated promises of Warner himself. Remove him and there is essentially no ILP. There is no philosophy that could outlive his grand promises to supporters. Some say the ILP might just as well stand for ‘I Love Power’.
“There is no fundamental vision and philosophy and no other result to come from this except that its very existence helps Rowley’s PNM. This country deserves more than to allow the ILP to give a hand up to Rowley’s PNM.” The Prime Minister defended the Government’s record. She said 49 percent of the population now receives a 24 hour supply of water, up from 18 percent in 2010; 850 schools were built; 70,000 laptops given out to secondary-school students; 81 individuals supported by the Children’s Life Fund; the minimum wage increased from $9.00 to $12.50 and old age benefits taken increased.
She said, “I have presided over a government that has indeed genuinely delivered more than any other in history in just under three years but has not delivered the message of its impressive performance. I have endured every attack from my shoes to my hair to my family as though those were areas of development...I am comfortable with the legacy of development to date but still need a redoubling upon what has already been achieved.”