IN 48 hours, political leader of the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) Ashworth Jack will make a decision on his political future.
Jack, speaking at the TOP's party headquarters at Scarborough last night at around 10.35 p.m., conceded defeat and extended congratulations to the People's National Movement (PNM) and his political opponent, Orville London.
Jack, who looked tearful, said he accepts full blame for the TOP's convincing defeat.
“In the next couple of days, I will meet with the executive of the TOP to assess what has happened and I will assess my own future in terms of the politics,” he said.
Asked whether this meant he will bow out of politics completely, he said, “I have to speak to the party and, based on how the rest of the party feels, I will make a decision based on that. I would not want to become an albatross around the neck of the party, if that is how the party feels I will gracefully deal with it.”
For 16 years Jack had been the representative of the people of Mason Hall/Providence/Moriah, he lost his seat yesterday to the PNM. He last served as the Minority Leader of the THA and boasted during the election campaign that he had turned down an offer of a position as a government senator to become the next chief secretary.
Asked if he expected to lose his seat, Jack said he was “shocked” by the outcome, but democracy prevails.
“I think if you asked me personally what we did wrong I wouldn't be able to tell you off-hand, I think we did everything that I think was necessary for Tobago's development and the people have spoken, in a democracy we have to respect the views of the people,” he said.
“Let me also say to the chairman and the rest of the organisation, I take full responsibility for whatever the outcome of this election is. I blame no candidate, I blame no member of the executive, I blame no other member of the party, I take full responsibility as the leader of the party for the results of this election,” he added.
He reiterated that the future of the TOP will be determined by whatever decision he makes in two days.
“For every victory, for every defeat there are lessons to be learnt,” said Jack.
Before Jack's arrival, shock and disappointment were all over the faces of supporters of the TOP's camp.
The TOP office was visibly not prepared for any celebration in contrast to the PNM camp, located a short distance away. TOP supporters were glued to the television set, and as the preliminary results came in, sadness grew.
Even before the final vote was counted, supporters of the PNM were out in the streets dancing, ringing bells and celebrating sweet victory- in front of the TOP's office.
TOP chairman Lionel Coker told the Express the party is willing to work with the PNM for Tobago's development.
The TOP's aggressive advertising campaign dwarfed the PNM election machinery, with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several government ministers endorsing the TOP, a coalition partner in the ruling People's Partnership.