The paucity of votes (62,000) Jack Warner’s Independent Liberal Party (ILP) got at the October 21 local government elections sent a very loud and clear message—that the electorate wanted more than just fanfare, entertainment, elaborate promises and jerseys (money was good too).
Indeed, Uncle Jack must now ask himself these serious, post-election questions: Where did all my putative green supporters go and did not do, according to plan, on election day? Were the pre-election day numbers a mere illusion of popular support? Did my putative green supporters just go with the green flow with no previous intention of so voting? “Is party time.”
These are definitive, up close and personal issues for Jack Warner to ponder with as he determines the ILP’s future modus operandi.
The fact of the matter is that the ILP promised to make a significant difference in the political landscape in Trinidad and Tobago—it certainly did not happen.
Instead, the ILP got itself sucked into the same ole same-same ole of personal character assassination, mud-slinging and baseless and puerile public accusations of wrong-doings to and from and between the major electoral contenders. This was the ILP’s cardinal Achilles heel. The ILP took the bait that eventually led to its total self-destruction and massive defeat at the polls. The ILP destroyed itself in this virgin electoral process.
In hindsight, the leadership of the ILP should not have responded to the daily public accusations thrown at it. The ILP leadership should have steadfastly stood above all the insane political madness as it promised. It did not.
Nevertheless, the TV recordings show that the responses from the leadership of the ILP generated untold laughter from the massive crowds, but most importantly, these same massive crowds did not laugh all the way to cast their vote for the ILP.
Indeed, these massive crowds, albeit putative genuine ILP supporters, might have had lots of fun at the ILP rallies, but they were as serious as an iron door nail or re-enforced cement laced with iron rods when they stamped that X on the ballot form. And that X was not stamped next to an ILP candidate.
On the campaign trail, Jack Warner’s signature cliché was “but not tonight.” However, in an ironic twist, apparently the ILP supporters (unknown to the Ilp leader), returned the favour and told Jack Warner and the ILP in no uncertain terms on October 21 “but not today” for my vote.
In hindsight, albeit 20/20 vision, Jack Warner should have calculated that it would have taken more than three months for this country’s electorate to extricate itself from the entrenched bottomless pit of myopic tribal politics. three months just wasn’t enough time, Uncle Jack.
The ILP needs to regroup, repackage itself with more publicly experienced and recognised leaders at the top and to present itself not as Jack Warner’s political party, per se. In Trinidad and Tobago today, looks mean any and everything.
The ILP must realise that in myopic tribal politics perception often becomes and/or is seen as a stark reality and with Jack Warner clad in damaged clothes as the focal target, the ILP will constantly remain a bitter and difficult pill for this electorate to swallow.
Moreover, the mere notion of Jack Warner as prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago seems too ghastly to contemplate for many.
That’s the reality of the nature of the beast called myopic tribal politics in Trinidad and Tobago today. And as the late renowned American CBS Evening News anchor Walter Cronkite used to say: “And that’s the way it is.”
Put another way, the ILP needs to present more recognised, popular and acceptable heavyweights in order to defeat the challenge of myopic tribal politics in Trinidad and Tobago; otherwise, its tenure would be a mammoth exercise in political futility.
Jack Austin Warner should step down as interim leader of the ILP and a successor should be appointed in order for the defeated party to garner the slightest scintilla of hope if it wants to stabilise itself as a viable third political force.
In the final analysis, the vast majority of the T&T electorate may be sympathetic to the ILP amidst the madness and insanity of myopic tribal politics but when the electorate thinks hard and long, that’s when the negative public accusations surrounding Jack Warner rear their ugly, unacceptable heads for all to see and to be ashamed of. That’s when Mr Warner is transformed into a political liability for the ILP.
• Dr Kwame Nantambu is a part-time lecturer at Cipriani College of Labour and Co-ooperative Studies