Warner: 'Tribal' votes
United National Congress (UNC) chairman and National Security Minister Jack Warner has said the people of Tobago voted on the basis of "tribal instincts" and the fear that a "Calcutta" ship was coming.
In a statement issued yesterday in his capacity as UNC chairman, Warner said: "The results of the THA (Tobago House of Assembly) election reflect how palpable the notion of fear among the African population can be. With very little to show from a party they have supported; a party that has neglected and overlooked them, Tobagonians still chose to remain with their political abusers."
Warner said all the People's National Movement (PNM) had to do was "resort to their age-old tactic of instilling fear that some other group would take away the little they had, and the tribal instincts did the rest".
Noting that there was nothing to show for the $22 billion spent by the PNM THA, Warner said the PNM did not seek nor did not have to seek to show Tobagonainss how much they gave to Tobago.
He said the PNM did not have to sell any vision of a better life for Tobagonians. "Their theme was simply that 'a Calcutta ship' was coming for them and so they needed to stand in defence of Tobago. That was it. Fear trumped a better future," Warner stated.
"It is the same reason why Laventille, with so little given by past PNM administrations, would yet support the party regardless. The tribe is all they have been convinced is needed to be protected," he said.
Warner said the task of "emancipation from mental slavery" is large. "How can we get them to understand that the appeal to tribal instincts alone with nothing else in the offing is not in their best interest? How can we encourage them to look for more from their leaders? How can we inspire their self-determination?" he said.
He said the time had come for introspection on "how we are perceived". He said there was a need to unite people against those "who do not represent them, but imprison them by using fear and tribalism even in this day and age when a black man, with the name Barack Hussein Obama, has just been inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States...
"It is time for us to revisit how we achieve the liberation of our people from the insularity they have been captive to, for far too long. We are all in this together. Good luck Tobago and congratulations to all the winners," he said.
Congress of the People chairman Carolyn Seepersad-Bachan, speaking in a telephone interview last night, said she did not think Tobagonians voted on the basis of race.
She said it was more an issue of the Tobago Organisation of the People maintaining a separate identity while being part of the People's Partnership coalition.
She said Tobago had always demonstrated it would vote for a party that would support its autonomy and would not compromise its interests. "I don't believe it was an issue of race. It was an issue of identity," she said. See Page 19