Mon | Nov 30, 2020

Kamla’s message to Biden evokes not-so-fond memories

Published:Monday | November 9, 2020 | 12:06 AM

THE EDITOR, Madam:

On Saturday, November 7, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, United National Congress party leader, the official opposition in Trinidad and Tobago, used her Facebook page to post a congratulatory message to US President-elect Joe Biden. Soon afterwards a member of her own party, former Minister of Food Production Devant Maharaj, noticed that Sir Keir Starmer, UK Labour Party leader, and British official opposition, had tweeted an identically worded congratulatory message to Mr Biden a few hours earlier.

This prompted Maharaj to post a photo of both messages with the question, “Plagiarism?” – the post was subsequently removed, with apologies made to Sir Keir.

It was probably an administrative assistant who made this grave error, but for those of us who have followed Joe Biden’s career, it brought some vivid flashbacks.

Early in his 1988 presidential campaign then Senator Biden was involved in a Democratic leadership debate, where he plagiarised entire sentences from a recent speech by Neil Kinnock, then leader of the UK Labour Party. Kinnock’s speech was about him and his wife being first in their families to attend university, and how his family were self-taught writers and poets, playing football after work in Welsh mines.

At the Iowa debate, Senator Joe Biden made identical claims about education regarding him and his wife, and then his family who worked in Pennsylvania’s mines. After this came to light, he admitted the speech should have been credited to Kinnock, but by then the media had found he had also used uncredited words from a 1965 Robert Kennedy speech, and from a 1976 Hubert H. Humphrey speech.

Mr Biden retreated from the 1988 presidential race. Lord Kinnock, now a Labour peer, in an interview with The Guardian newspaper, said that the incident was an innocent mistake.

BERNIE SMITH

Parksville, BC

Canada