The Force Isn't Strong With Trinidad & Tobago's Newest Political Party

"T&T Election date announced..."; photo by, used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

“T&T Election date announced…” Photo by Used under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

Less than two weeks after its launch, Trinidad and Tobago's newest political party, The Third Force Movement, has announced that it will not be contesting the country's general elections in September. Netizens did not seem particularly surprised, as there was a significant public perception of the group as a puppet of the current administration.

The party's chairman made it clear that it was “not the end of The Third Force Movement”, but the online community didn't interpret it that way for the most part — there were several comments on public Facebook threads that hoped the party would “rest in peace”.

Kheron Khan noted that The Third Force was “the shortest lasting party in the history of this country”, adding:

u all are a waste and an embarassment..I am sure most of them woudl (sic) be showing up on a UNC [United National Congress, the main party in the current coalition government] platform very soon

Trevor Joseph agreed with that prediction, posting a photograph of two key members of The Third Force Movement with the sitting prime minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar. Some people blamed what they saw as the collapse of the party on one of its members’ racially charged statements.

While a few netizens were disappointed, saying that they held great hope for the party, others said that The Third Force lasted longer than they thought it would. Vernon O'Reilly Ramesar called it a case of “Politicus Interruptus”.

Of course, the humourous “Star Wars” references were irresistible to many. Marisha Darneaud quipped:

I guess the force was not with them. They should have checked with Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi first

Other Facebook users suggested that the decision not to contest the September 7 elections had more to do with internal bickering rather than, as its chairman suggested, there being insufficient time “to establish the institutional framework for a fully fledged political party”. Rhoda Bharath said:

I hearing the Third Force Implosion just EPIC.

Under the hashtag #ThingsThatLastedLongerThanTheThirdForce, she listed “My Breakfast” and “The Red House Fire”, the latter referring to a common Trinbagonian expression that is used when something has no staying power.

Over at the satirical website Wired868, Mr. Live Wire took a stab at the situation by drawing parallels among American actor Bill Cosby, disgraced ex-FIFA Vice President Jack Warner and The Third Force Movement:

All three were hilarious in their own way—certainly, if you enjoy ironic comedy—but, mostly, you would have to be high on something to take any of them seriously.

And, whether they like it or not, the curtain is falling on their careers.

Today, the Third Force Movement (TFM), or COP-lite, waved the white flag, just nine days after announcing their presence and eight and a half days since they lost all credibility.

On their unveiling, TFM chairman Timothy Hamel Smith announced one of their key founding principles lay in party and campaign financing legislation and then promptly refused to say who financed them.

That is, of course, overlooking the racist, uncouth, narcissistic elephant in the room…

The post ended by saying:

The Third Farce never really mattered; Trinidadians, after all, are generally disinterested in recycling.

In a post she wrote for Poliwatch, Rhoda Bharath explained:

The force was with us, and now the farce has left.

It was fairly apparent from its onset that this party had only one direction in which to go. It was comprised of a group of people who had two things in common: they were all part of the COP arm of the People’s Partnership; and most of them had been fired unceremoniously by Kamla Persad-Bissessar for one reason or another. Using the last bit of social currency they had in a country like Trinidad, where class and colourism go hand in hand, they came together and designated themselves the Third Force Movement.

The term third force refers to a way of thinking. In local politics it was first used by Simbhoonath Capildeo to discuss alternative forms of government. People who are against the ideals of the status quo. So, for a party cobbled together by a lawyer and a group of businessmen there is incredible irony in calling themselves or their party the Third Force Movement. How can you be anti-status quo while being the status quo?

Bharath, like the Wired868 post, addressed the racism of one of the party's members and the refusal of the party, which was campaigning on the basis of “campaign finance reform, procurement legislation and electoral reform”, to reveal the source of its funding, saying, “If that isn’t a textbook definition of hypocrisy, then I don’t know what is.”

Finally, she challenged the reasons put forward by The Third Force Movement to opt out of the upcoming general elections:

A group of people, all former servants of the public in some form or fashion, got
together and started a political party without structure? They weren’t consulting with each other? They had no plan? No communication strategies? Were unaware that the election is September 7th? It took them by surprise? And they were in charge of positions and portfolios here? Is this a sign of how they handled public business? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is a party, that in its first political platform meeting in Boissiere village, Maraval, before a nation hungry for alternatives and ideas after five years of abysmal governance, chose to have a wine and jam session as part of its meeting.


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