Thursday, December 14, 2017

‘Kamla played into PNM hands’


Mark Fraser

THE People's Partnership administration played right into the hands of the People's National Movement (PNM).

And this led to the demise of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.

So said political analyst Derek Ramsamooj and economist Dr Vanus James during a panel discussion on the THA election held on TV6 last night.

James said one of the issues that helped the PNM in its landslide victory was Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar's decision to pilot the THA 2013 Amendment Bill in Parliament.

“I would like to point out behind all that is the fundamental issue of proper representation for Tobagonians in the nation. This bill has said nothing about it, proper representation, and the fundamental issue is do Tobagonians have a genuine voice. Do we have equal status with Trinidad. That is what the prime minister promised, she said equal status and I have a colleague who keeps reminding me that this is the first prime minister to promise that and then did not deliver that in either the green paper or in the bill,” James said.

He said this caused the “swing voters” who voted for the TOP in the 2010 general election to change their minds this time around.

The TOP won the two Tobago constituencies in the 2010 general election.

“I think what the PNM did was clever, they simply allowed the prime minister to make the mistakes and when she laid the bill in the House promising mechanisms that would effectively emasculate, the House, the Tobago House of Assembly I think that was an error and the PNM simply essentially allowed that,” James said.

Ramsamooj agreed.

“They allowed the error to flow. The PNM have not put in the public domain a credible alternative and what happened was basically unfortunately the People's Partnership played right into the PNM's hands,” Ramsamooj said.

James described the Tobago electorate as a “thoughtful society” who are not swayed by theatrics on the political platform.

He said he lauded the decision by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to take a back seat and allow THA Chief Secretary Orville London to lead the party's election campaign.

The TOP and the People's Partnership, however, did not follow suit.

James said the Tobago electorate view their leaders as equivalent to the prime minister and Ashworth Jack did not inspire that reaction.

Ramsamooj said in the 2010 general election when the PNM lost to the TOP the vote was against former prime minister Patrick Manning.

This election, however, was not based on the London's tenure as chief secretary but rather Persad-Bissessar's performance as prime minister.

“They made this election a referendum of her (Persad-Bissessar's) leadership,” Ramsamooj said.

Jack was rejected as a leader because he was a “troubled candidate”.

James said the issue of Jack's house was a major factor that led to the eventual rejection of him as leader.

“He (Jack) did not stamp the election with a capacity to lead Tobago,” Ramsamooj said.