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Raffique Shah


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How to lose friends and alienate people

By Raffique Shah
November 2, 2014

Many among the upwardly mobile of yesteryear's generations—politicians, car and insurance salesmen and budding businessmen—were sure to read Dale Carnegie's bestselling book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Carnegie was one of the earliest leadership training gurus in America, and his books, especially this one, were virtual bibles for people wanting to wield power or become millionaires.

I ruminated on Carnegie and his most famous book, which was widely read by people of my generation (I never did, which, I suppose, accounts for my lack of success and my modest material means), after listening to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan over a period of time, and UNC campaign manager Rodney Charles speaking recently in a television interview.

I am convinced that these two have jointly authored an antithesis to Carnegie's bestseller, theirs titled How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. It amazes me how hard they are working to turn off supporters of the People's Partnership, drive them into neutrality if not alien arms.

Ramlogan, who has long made bombast his signature characteristic, has achieved the dubious distinction of alienating possibly 100,000 or so electors from the Partnership, denigrating them for colour of skin, places of residence and societal class.

Instead of working closely with National Security Minister Gary Griffith to bring to speedy justice Dana Seetahal's killers and sundry other murderers who are walking free in the country, the AG uses taxpayers' time to pen lengthy diatribes directed at "Westmoorings and Glencoe" people, at those who patronise MovieTowne Plaza, branding them enemies of the Government.

His latest salvo against such people who are in solidarity with Wayne Kublalsingh, the man if not his cause, was a bitter condemnation, suggesting that they never stood up for anything, but now stand against the Partnership Government.

After reading a few of his acidic attacks, I sat in my chair and wondered. Does this man know how the Partnership came close to wresting the Diego Martin constituencies from the PNM, or later, during the local government elections, winning control of corporations in Diego Martin, Tunapuna, Arima, Sangre Grande, San Fernando?

Does he seriously believe that it was the Ramsinghs and Boodoosinghs (apologies to my pal "Rambo") who delivered those constituencies and corporations to the Partnership? Does he not understand there are huge blocks of voters outside of the traditional but fast diminishing Afro and Indo-constituencies who determine the results of today's elections?

In this new electoral configuration, beacons like Peter Minshall and Merle Hodge, to name two among scores spread across the country, wield inordinate influence, well beyond their geographic or ethnic boundaries. I cannot say for sure, but I feel that these people will have campaigned against Patrick Manning and voted for the Partnership in 2010.

It was they, not the core supporters, who made the difference, and who, ultimately, delivered the seats that made Kamla Prime Minister, Ramlogan AG, and others Cabinet ministers. These people celebrated with the Partnership in 2010 and afterwards.

Now, and for some time after 2010, when they speak out on issues they believe are critical to good governance (they are supporters, not sycophants), Ramlogan and UNC diehards urinate and defecate on them. You should see the things they say about Minshall having received a house in Federation Park courtesy the Partnership back in 2011: he is a "dutty dawg", he was "always PNM", and worse—all because Peter dares to speak his mind, something he always did.

Ramlogan, who almost got nothing in the aftermath of 2010 elections, and who has to thank Jack Warner for him being named AG (oh yes, I know what I write!), is the pothound leading the pack-attack against enemies of the UNC, perceived or real. He and Rodney Charles, who is stuck in the Goebbels Nazi propaganda time warp, believe they can peddle manure that the masses would devour it.

Charles, who confirmed his mala fides when he lunched with Nazi French politician Marie Le Pen two years ago (a decent House Negro, he), said among other half-truths, that the "PNM (in government) enjoyed oil prices of (US) $140 a barrel". Brent crude did reach that high—for about a month in mid-2008. By 2009 it had plunged to $60, but rebounded to average over $90 for the duration of the Partnership stewardship.

You see, these fellas believe that most of the population are "chupidees", that we will buy their propaganda wholesale. Truth is they do have such herd-like followers who question nothing they say, and who digest their distasteful fare, repulsive advertising et al, in large gulps.

But Trinidad and Tobago is a fairly well-informed society, with high Internet penetration, especially among the Trini-to-de-bone middle classes who matter most in elections. Ramlogan has already turned friends into foes, and with Charles insulting the intelligent, whither the UNC, come elections 2015? Back behind the ethnic barricades?

With friends like these two goats in the intestines of the UNC, who needs enemies? Kamla should check carefully to see if they are not on the PNM's payroll. After all, the "balisier bunch" has 50-odd years' experience in winning friends and influencing enemies.

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