The only thing missing from Warner's "Straight Talk" rally on Thursday night was the world's smallest violin, wheezing away mournfully. That thousands of people showed up to support Warner and cheer at his comments is a testament to the calibre of our voting public. Even worse, representatives of a party, who three years ago, would vote out the PNM for allegations of fraud, corruption and squandermania, now resolutely ignore the allegations against Warner and instead praise him for building box drains in their community. Yes folks, box drains are now the official UNC gauge for progress in the country. Moonan doesn't need to move a mountain, just build a drain. Warner spent hours last night going through some thirty plus pages of notes and at the end of the evening, the impression I came away with from the speech wasn't that he had cleared his name, but rather that he was subliminally telling the crowd, "Yes, I took money. but I share some of it with you." The disconcerting thing is, I think the crowd at the Pierre Road Recreation Ground last night were quite happy with that message and could care less what it implies about Warner as a person, MP and politician. Now what does that tell you about some of the constituents of Chaguanas West?
In a classic Panday move last Thursday night, Warner set out to circle the wagons before he announced his resignation as MP. The stage was set nicely. A fete is thrown for the constituents, to remind everyone of Warner's largesse. He then mounts a stage, twists some of the allegations of the Concacaf Report around adequately to confuse the audience in to thinking the allegations against him may be false. He subtly reminds the more savvy members of the audience that he is a financier and can influence other financiers of the party. Then he declares his love for the party and his loyalty to Persad-Bissessar, while at the same time revealing that there are at least three members of the Cabinet who are against him. Signaling to the electorate that he is a man beleaguered by enemies, he is under threat, the Prime Minister isn't making up her own mind, it's being made up for her.
After last night, Warner has made it explicitly clear the pressure he is going to put on the UNC government in light of what now appears to be a forced resignation. But bear in mind that a week has passed and we still don't know the complete truth about his resignation. Warner insists that he resigned because a newspaper reported that the Prime Minister was stunned after reading the Concacaf Report. According to Warner, when he queried this report, the PM said she never said she was stunned. The PMs response to fraud and corruption allegations, not the allegations themselves, is what leads to him resigning?
Andre Jennings and Lasana Liburd have been saying for years, what the Express is only reporting this week. Liburd's Wired868 online new site often has the most cutting edge stories on Warner, complete with documental evidence. Neither the PM nor her advisers have an excuse for being clueless about Warner's activities. But it is typical behaviour of Persad- Bissessar to affect the attitude of clueless female, always the last to know; yet another act of feigned helplessness so that we will commiserate with her and think, "Poor lady, look how them fellas running rings around her." But the allegations against Warner aren't anything new. We can go as far back as 1989, if not further, and ask into whose pockets did the money for the oversold tickets fall into.
And with the timeline created by the Concacaf Report, you now have to ask yourself questions about how exactly the UNC has been funded all these years. This is the third financier of that party to have such serious allegations over his head. And at every turn it appears that the money being sunk into the UNC has a questionable past. Ish and Steve have money laundering questions to answer in the US, while it appears that Warner has been systematically moving funds from the accounts of other entities into his. Is this the kind of funding that keeps the UNC afloat? Is this the kind of funding that brought them into power? The leadership of the party isn't perturbed by this? The other members of the coalition think this kind of funding is new politics? Because let's be real with ourselves, COP, MSJ and TOP were all quite contented to use Warner's funding in 2010, and turn a blind eye to the allegations then. Indeed, Ramadhar was one of the first to congratulate Warner when he became Minister of National Security less than a year ago. Clearly then the shadows following Warner were not a problem. So why is it a problem now? What is it about that Concacaf report that has everyone so willing and ready to believe Warner should step down, when they were so clearly avoiding making such statements before?
In a matter of days we went from Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed publicly declaring full Cabinet support for Warner, to Ramadhar, less than 24 hours after Mohammed's declaration soundly refuting collective support and writing a stern letter to the PM demanding Warner's resignation. Who knew he had it in him?
And then there is the matter of Warner's replacements. Both Emmanuel George and Khadija Ameen are close allies of Warner. Indeed, it seems once Warner gives up a ministry, former DJ Hurricane George is on hand to take it over. This is the same Emmanuel George whose name has been mentioned alongside Ganga Singh, Hafeez Karamath, Desalcott, Inncogen and the short pants man, not so? And I should trust him with security? As for Miss Ameen, there is little about her performance in office thus far to suggest she has what it takes to be an effective leader.
His resignation as security minister has allowed Kamla to put significant resources into the hands of Suruj Rambachan. Minister of Works AND Local Government? Might a certain political party be fearful of losing Local government elections? If you thought THA was squandermania, just wait.
With Warner's resignation as MP for Chaguanas West in full effect, expect even more entertainment for your money than usual in the next three months. His seat can't remain vacant. So essentially, the country will be gearing up for two election campaigns in the coming months. Watch the rum and roti flow folks. The tsunami ain't coming, it reach.