When Prime Minister Tillman Thomas gave his national address and announced what appears to be minor changes to his cabinet – as is his right to do – he effectively launched his re-election campaign, putting Glen Noel in charge of the process, while continuing his move to bypass his party.
The changes he announced on Friday night were more a blatant political ploy rather than any attempt to increase the efficiency of his cabinet – and in some ways is the continuation of the Prime Minister giving his own party the middle finger since last July’s convention.
Prime Minister Thomas went out on a limb to openly campaign for Noel as Chairman of the party – a fight that ended in the humiliating defeat on the floor of the convention.
Since then, despite all counseling to let it fly, the Prime Minister and Party Leader has insisted that the new chairman Kenrick Fullerton should not keep his government job – if he wants to remain chairman.
When organs of the party have sought discussion on the issue – he has shrugged it off as none-of-their-business, since it is a government issue where the party has no jurisdiction.
Even if you buy the arguments against Fullerton, at best it is inconsistent, since about a dozen active party members have similar arrangements – and they have not been asked to choose.
There is a team that is advising the Prime Minister not to go into the next election with the so called ‘Gang of Four’ – and he is beginning to lean this way.
For him, it is the natural progression of his mission to exorcise “the evil” from his party.
Prime Minister Thomas has always seen Noel as his enforcer – but without him having a formal role in the party, he has now created a Ministry of National Mobilization, that will give him the space and reason to roam the nation.
Under the cloak of ministerial duty, he will be running parallel streets to the party’s chairman and general secretary, whose role based on their positions in the party, would have been to mobilize for a general election.
To Noel’s credit, he is the only one brave enough – his detractors will say stupid enough – to do the ground work for the “go-it-alone” committee.
Some of his own team is still a little uncomfortable with the very idea, and whatever you may think of Nazim Burke, he is neither stupid nor suicidal.
The king of nervous is getting jittery as to where all this will lead.
In the end, Burke is the only one capable of stopping the madness if he ceases being crippled by indecision.
Noel is the one who will identify alternative candidates – and a few names have already been scribbled down.
For now that team covets Pamela Courtney instead of Kenrick Fullerton for St Andrew’s North East; Merle Byer instead of Peter David for St George’s; three potentials in St George’s South instead of Glynis Roberts, and virtually anybody but Joseph Gilbert in St Patrick’s West.
There is an open path in St David’s since Denis Lett, the respected conscience of the party has always indicated he was going to retire anyway.
Their narrative in St Andrew’s South West is that Sylvester Quarless can’t win and must be changed and Alleyne Walker, has outlived his usefulness in St Andrew’s North West.
Of the incumbents, only three candidates are really safe.
Thomas’ inspiration for candidate overhaul is Trinidad and Tobago’s Patrick Manning, who kicked out his PNM old guard in dramatic fashion.
Except he would do well to remember how that all ended.
The parallels don’t end there. Manning felt he was on an ordained divine mission. So too is Thomas.
He should start praying harder that God answers his prayers, better than he did Manning’s.
Or else this will be a case of dead men walking – or I should say – running!