Controversial Candidates, Silly Season in Trinidad & Tobago

With another parliamentary seat having been made vacant in Trinidad and Tobago (this time in the constituency of St. Joseph, thanks to the resignation of Former Justice Minister Herbert Volney from the United National Congress), the required by-election will be called on November 4th – but the electoral candidates are proving to be just as controversial as the former minister.

Ian Alleyne, host of the popular but contentious television programme Crime Watch will be contesting the St. Joseph seat for the ruling People's Partnership government, a move which has cost him a lot of criticism from his fan base, many of whom now regard him as a sell-out. (Alleyne had unsuccessfully run for the Chaguanas seat back in 2002 for the People's National Movement party, which currently sits in opposition). Speculation about Alleyne's political ambitions began after he appeared on a People's Partnership platform; those ambitions were confirmed when he showed up to officially file his election papers.

Ian Alleyne flanked by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan (l) and Ganga Singh (r)

Ian Alleyne flanked by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan (l) and Ganga Singh (r)

Alleyne's Facebook fan page was filled with derogatory comments and memes about his decision to represent the People's Partnership.

One of the Internet memes criticizing Ian Alleyne's decision to contest the St. Joseph seat for the People's Partnership.

One of the Internet memes criticizing Ian Alleyne's decision to contest the St. Joseph seat for the People's Partnership.

Karamchand Ramsingh pulled no punches:

Hmmmm I wonder how much Ian Alleyne sold his soul for????

Shamina Rosemarie Othman reminded everyone about an issue which currently has Mr. Alleyne before the courts, on three charges under the Sexual Offences Act and one charge of resisting arrest. The charges are all related to Alleyne's broadcast of a video in which a minor was raped. Othman commented:

Am sure Ian Alleyne joined the PP to bust them down jus saying. If he could not use his judge ment on the matter of showing the video of the child do you think he have good judgement as an MP

In a curious twist, one of Alleyne's contenders for the St. Joseph seat is Alleyne's former business partner and lawyer, Om Lalla. Their partnership – both legal and on the television show – came to an abrupt end and Lalla subsequently announced that he would be contesting the seat for Jack Warner‘s Independent Liberal Party.

The Alleyne-Lalla split formed the basis of a humorous video clip:

Comedian, social activist and television host Errol Fabien has decided to run as an independent candidate, though he has also been endorsed by the Movement for Social Justice. He has been keeping a video blog of his campaign:

This vlog was made just after Fabien officially filed his election papers:

The other candidates for the upcoming election are Senator Terrence Deyalsingh of the People's National Movement (PNM) and Michael Lopez of the Democratic National Alliance.

On his blog Plain Talk, Philip Edward Alexander compared the current state of Trinbagonian politics to a circus:

Hope you all enjoyed our little montage and Trini nursery rhyme, and we would like to remind you to make sure to get your mad card stamped, punched and pickled for the St. Joseph bye (sic) election, because without a ticket you wont (sic) be allowed under the big top.

On Facebook, Alexander added:

The entire political system has been reduced to a circus. Yesterday was just the icing. WE the people have failed. Read the conversations, listen to the talk shows. We have been educated to a functionally literate level, but our ability to think critically and analyze has been bred out of us. So now noise, flare and flash determines who gets into office, perpetuating the cycle of undereducated, unqualified leaders setting the national agenda. Simply put, the ignorant masses are giving their votes to who entertains them more. The people are for the most part broken, incapable of being a party to their own salvation.

At Wired868, Mr. Live Wire gave a humorous analysis of the election field:

Mr Live Wire cannot confirm that Alleyne has commissioned Cee-Lo Green to sing ‘F**k you’ in his coming out party as a pointed message to his rival. Or that Lalla has Taylor Swift’s ‘We are never ever getting back together’ on repeat on his iPod.

Either way, there will be wet handkerchiefs among Crime Watch fans in St Joseph as the show is set to take a hiatus while its two former leading men fight it out on the streets. Medics, pathologists and relationship counsellors are set to be on stand-by.

He also noted that the actual comedian in the race has yet to make a big joke out of the process but there's still time:

Errol Fabien, a real comic and the grassroots candidate, has promised to bring sober, caring representation to the community. But the race is still young and there is plenty time to sacrifice solemnity for the soundbytes that will take his message into the mainstream media.

Give them a razzle, ‘Uncle Errol'; show the johnnys-come-lately what entertainment is all about.

Mr. Live Wire's assessment of the one candidate with government experience was brief:

PNM candidate Terrence Deyalsingh is the only candidate with a record of State service as a current senator, which makes him the most vulnerable.

Back on Facebook, Junior Diaz felt that Mr. Lalla was in a stronger position than Alleyne:

The funny thing is that some people who admires Mr Lalla are not ILP supporters but more less people who has faith in Mr Lalla cause he's as real as could be, Ian Alleyne on the other hand has lost confidences in his once die hard supporters who would rush home just to see his program. Judas is alive and well.

Blogger Trinikid was surprised that Alleyne would even get involved in politics at this time:

Don't get me wrong, I like Ian Alleyne. I like Ian Alleyne as an entertainer. I like Ian Alleyne as a vigilante. I like Ian Alleyne as a Television personality. He makes good television on a weekday evening. I'm not sure if he'll make a good politician though. Ian seems a bit shaky as a person but I guess he deserves a chance…..RIGHT? I think he should be giving a chance to try to represent St. Joseph, so does Errol Fabian and so does Om Lalla. I'm just really taken aback by the fact that Ian took sides in the whole political arena. I'm no expert in media but I do know that media personnel are advised not to publicly proclaim their political affiliation. That's just a rule of thumb. But I don't know if he's planning on keeping his job on CNC3 after this though. We'll just have to wait and see.

He believed that Alleyne's best chance politically would have been to run as an independent:

But anyhow you take it, Ian Alleyne is still not guaranteed to win. He would have had a better chance if he had done like Errol Fabian (sic) and be an independent. Why? Because the amount of people that would vote for him as an independent would drop considerably since he took sides. That's just how it goes with politics. Everybody loves Ian Alleyne but not everyone loves UNC/PP. Ian Alleyne or not, it's still the UNC/PP.

The St. Joseph by-election will follow the country's Local Government Elections, which will be held this Monday, October 21st.



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