In its customary way, the Trinidad press — it's never been consistently national, except for the years when Emery Robley gave us Tobagonian coverage — has ignored Tobagonian views on the latest sour taste this clueless UNC-led government has left in our mouths. More specifically, it has not brought us Ashworth Jack's views on the government's absurd and insulting deception of the national population.
Since the population has not been hearing from him for quite some time now, I will remind you of who he is. He is the political leader of the TOP (the Tobago Organisation of the People), one of the partners of the UNC in government, and his party has provided the UNC with two seats in the House of Representatives, as well as some sense that they have Tobago in the bag.
Trinidad is a small place, and Tobago is even smaller. So why can't the Trinidad press find him? Don't his views count?
The COP, with Prakash Ramadhar trying hard to make himself invisible, issued a statement condemning the UNC's dastardly and brazen attempt to manipulate the law for reasons that they have not made clear, and, until they clear things up, a highly plausible reason is to shield and preserve their financiers. So where's the TOP statement — if they can't find Ashworth?
We knew from the outset that the views of NJAC and the Chief Servant did not matter; they are there to 'eat a food'. (Why does the press misspell 'a' as 'ah', eh?). And we know that, since the MSJ pulled out, Comrade McLeod's views no longer matter (though not because he seems to be hungry). But surely Ashworth's do.
After all, a Tobago House of Assembly election looms, and the promise of legislative reform for real autonomy for Tobago seems headed for the dustbin as so many others in the national space. Even with a realisation of the promise, Ashworth's TOP would be in a pickle, his party, which badly needs to end the PNM's twelve-year reign, finding itself helplessly tainted by the sepulchral stench of the company it keeps.
At least half of Tobago view the UNC government with suspicion, especially where their land is concerned, and are blaming Ashworth for the unease they feel. And, given the UNC's many unforced errors and their shameless narcissism, many are convinced they cannot govern democratically and have written them off already. If the TOP's fortunes are intimately tied up with the UNC's, then doesn't the TOP stand to be written off too?
It wouldn't surprise me to learn that Ashworth now feels threatened — perhaps sickened, since we can't find him — by his association with the UNC. The latter's relentlessly worsening image has lowered his stocks, and he may now be despairing of collecting the prized post of chief secretary. Can't the UNC stop self-destructing already?
So there's urgent need for the press to have a conversation with him. These are some of the questions they might ask him in his capacity as TOP leader:
1. How do you think this latest scandal surrounding Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act will affect the TOP's chances in the upcoming THA election?
2. What other scandals created by the government are likely to adversely affect your party's chances?
3. How does the Tobagonian electorate view the Partnership's missteps — for example, the failed use of a state of emergency to fight crime, the underhand award of the contract in the bunker affair, the alienation of labour from the Partnership, the elevation of Jack Warner to the post of Minister of National Security, the award of a million-dollar severance package to former commissioner of police Dwayne Gibbs and former deputy commissioner Jack Ewatski even though they voluntarily resigned from their jobs?
4. Are your views sought in the governing of the country? In what ways? Could you identify one of those views that the government has taken on board?
5. How do you feel being a part of a government that deliberately deceives the people?
6. Is the Fyzabad Accord still in effect? What is the evidence?
7. Do you regret joining the Partnership?
8. Have you considered going it alone?
9. If the promise of greater autonomy flops, will you break ties with the UNC?
It would be a triumph for our struggling little democracy if we could get him to answer questions like these, but we can understand why he is allergic to the press.
Life in a pickup side en easy. Poor fella.