Monday, February 19, 2018

London: All parties must push for Tobago self-governance

Chief Secretary of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA), Orville London, has urged political parties in Tobago to put aside their differences and commit to pushing for internal self-government.

His comments came during an interview on I95.5’s morning show yesterday.

“Your political affiliation, whether as leader or follower, should not be your determining factor in your being part of this process,” he urged the leaders.

London noted that THA has already had a series of meetings on the issue with about 13 various critical sectors including faith-based organisations, Unions, young people and communities.

He said conversations were also held in a region by regional basis.

He noted that in the early stages of the THA’s campaign for self-government, all the major political parties including the People’s National Movement (PNM), the Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) and the Tobago Platform of Truth (TPT) attended a meeting and expressed interest in the process.

London said after that meeting, the Ashworth Jack-led TOP “dropped out” because of advice it may have received from within the People’s Partnership Government.

“Everybody was surprised that he (Jack) came to the meeting, but we were not surprised that he dropped out.

We felt that those with whom he was associated would not be comfortable with a situation where he would be seen sitting with the PNM and the TPT,” he said.

“What started off as three, is now down to two,” he added.

London said he believed that if enough Tobagonians send a strong message that despite their political affiliation, they are willing to support the attempt for self-government,  it can affect Central Government’s decision.

“In the two years I have left in my political career I am doing all I can, it  is not an Orville London thing, it is in fact an opportunity for Orville London and Hochoy Charles and others to signal to the people of Tobago and country that it is a people thing,” he said.

“At the end of the day what Central Government does in terms of the THA Act and constitutional reform will depend more on what people say and do rather than what any politician says and does, because politicians only  have a limited number of votes,” London stated.

As to the newly formed party-the Tobago Forwards- the THA head said although it is another brand of the TOP, it is more than welcome to participate in the process of self-government for the sister isle.

This Sunday (August 17th), the THA will be hosting a public meeting on self-government at the University of the West Indies Teaching and Learning Complex, in St. Augustine. The discussion starts at 4 p.m.

London explained that coming out of this discussion, and following the THA’s convention in mid-September, the Assembly would evaluate the entire self-government campaign and will determine its next step.