LANDSLIDE VICTORY: People's National Movement political leader Dr Keith Rowley, right, congratulates Orville London on his victory in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections at the party's headquarters in Scarborough, Tobago, on Monday night. —Photo: MICHEAL BRUCE

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UNC arrogance hurt TOP

MSJ: Ashworth should have said 'thanks but no thanks'

By Julien Neaves

PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar and the United National Congress (UNC) are the "real loser" following the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections.

This is the view of Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah.

In a press release yesterday, Abdulah, leader of the former People's Partnership (PP) coalition member, stated that Persad-Bissessar had staked her "political reputation and credibility" on the election by her decision to campaign "openly and aggressively".

"The Prime Minister should have stayed out of the THA elections. But such is the arrogance of the UNC and its view that it must control all and by all means necessary, that it dug its own grave," he said.

He added, "The aura of Persad-Bissessar's leadership has been removed. The PP's culture of buying power and seeking to control all State institutions at the expense of good governance stands naked for all to see."

Abdulah slammed the "blatant opportunism" of introducing legislation to amend the THA Act, first announced at the launch of the Tobago Organisation of the People's campaign, as "obscene partisan politicking on a very important issue". He also criticised the UNC bringing "attack politics" to Tobago with UNC chairman Jack Warner attacking Chief Secretary Orville London and Persad-Bissessar attacking People's National Movement (PNM) Island Council PRO Denise Tsoi-a-Fatt-Angus and her family.

"These attacks which were largely efforts to discredit without evidence, made against Tobagonians (whose) family reputations run deep, also wounded the TOP," he said.

He said the UNC "threw everything but the proverbial kitchen sink at the PNM", with the opening of projects and photo ops but the "gamble did not pay off" and "Tobagonians repudiated the UNC and this in turn adversely affected the TOP".

Abdulah said that the huge expenditure by the TOP on media ads, other election materials and inducements were "not within the TOP's financial capacity" and it was "obvious that the UNC and its financiers were behind this big money campaign".

Abdulah pointed out that the UNC is a Trinidad-based party with no mass base in Tobago and "Tobagonians have long rejected any attempt by a Trinidad party to determine their affairs".

He suggested that there was urgent need for "tight legislation" governing party financing, adding there was "much talk in the public domain about contractors and other service suppliers having to give back ten per cent or more of the value of contracts to party and/or Government officials".

On Monday, the PNM won all 12 seats in an unprecedented victory that left the political career of TOP leader Ashworth Jack up in the air.

Abdulah commented, "Ashworth Jack demonstrated that he was not prepared to stand up as an equal partner in the PP and say to the UNC—'thanks but no thanks, allow the TOP and Tobagonians to decide what happens in Tobago'. Thus, in the past two and a half years one heard not a note from the TOP in even muted criticism of the UNC or the PP Government".

He continued: "It was Ashworth's weakness to demonstrate the TOP's independence within the Partnership and his corresponding desire to obtain resources from the UNC together with UNC's arrogance, their flagrant disregard for good governance, their failure to keep commitments made in 2010 to bring about change and their lack of understanding of the political reality of Tobago, that combined to give the PNM a 12-0 victory."

Abdulah also congratulated PNM Tobago Council leader Orville London for "his steady leadership of the party" and noted that his rejection of any extremism "including his repudiation of the statement by his own party stalwart and candidate Hilton Sandy about 'a ship from Calcutta' was appreciated by Tobagonians".

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