You are here
Call for Jack to quit as TOP leader
If defeated Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP) leader Ashworth Jack remains at the helm, he will sink the party much deeper into the hole the Tobago electorate has dug for it. He has no choice but to resign and even if the TOP does not want him to resign, he should insist.
This was the verdict of political scientist Dr Winford James, a Tobagonian, as he responded to questions on what it would mean for TOP if Jack remained its leader in the wake of the party’s defeat in last Monday’s Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election. The Tobago PNM Council, led by incumbent THA Chief Secretary Orville London, gained an historic win when it took all of the island’s 12 seats.
Jack, in conceding defeat at the TOP’s headquarters at Old Market Square, Tobago, after the announcement of the results, said he would decide on his role in the party and in politics “over the next 48 hours.” More than 48 hours have passed and word is still to come from him. He told the T&T Guardian yesterday he was in a meeting and to call back. Several attempts to reach him after that proved unsuccessful.
Sources said the Prime Minister held a secret meeting with Jack and members of the TOP executive at Rovanel’s, Bon Accord, Tobago, after the inauguration of the new THA assemblymen. The PM and Tobago-born government ministers Christlyn Moore, Delmon Baker and Vernella Alleyne-Toppin were present at the inauguration. The TOP received six invitations, the T&T Guardian was told, but Jack was absent.
James said resigning would actually help revive a little of Jack’s lost credibility. He added: “He had four seats and he lost all, including his own, some by a wide margin. Obviously, his credibility would be at stake here. The honourable thing would be for him to resign. I don’t think he has a choice really.”
While some are looking at the possibility of Minister of Tobago Affairs Delmon Baker leading the TOP, James does not believe there are any successors to Jack. He agreed with the consensus of Tobagonians on the ground that if Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar had not taken over the party’s campaign, the TOP would have won the election. “I agree. It’s part of what I believe,” James added.
Why did the assistance of the PM and National Security Minister Jack Warner hurt the TOP’s campaign so much? It all has to do with Tobago pride, James said. “Jack lost his autonomy, his leadership of the TOP. The party was seen as part of the People’s Partnership. He became subordinate to the PP in a way Tobagonians would not countenance. They felt he would not lead in the interest of Tobago and would take orders from unseen people,” he added.
James believes Tobagonians did not vote on the PNM-led THA’s performance over the last 12 years but on the PM and her team leading Tobago. “Jack was seen as allowing the Prime Minister and Warner to take over the campaign. It suggested he is weak and a puppet or felt it was the best strategy,” he added.
Asked if London did not allow the PNM, a Trinidad party, and its leader Dr Keith Rowley, who also campaigned with the Tobago Council during the elections, to do the same, he said they worked behind the scenes. “That’s the key. You can resource from behind but should not take over. Rowley spoke but London always took centre stage. Persad-Bissessar hugged centre stage.” he said.
James said the Prime Minister’s most brazen act was daring to lay a bill in Parliament on self-government for Tobago. Dr Bishnu Ragoonath, a Trinidad-based political scientist, was cautious when asked to comment on the implications for the TOP if Jack stayed on. He said: “That is a decision for Jack and his party. We can’t say whether they should remove him or not. I can’t say whether it would be better for the TOP if he stays.”
Ragoonath felt Jack was “demonised” as a puppet of the PM. “He will have to break away (from the Government) if he wants to transform the image of the TOP,” he said. Chief Secretary Orville London, commenting on how Tobagonians voted, told the T&T Guardian last Tuesday no single factor was ever responsible. He agreed the close link between the TOP and the PP played a part in the defeat of the TOP.
The issues surrounding Jack himself, including his multi-million-dollar house, also added to his demise, he added. London believed, however, that people did not only vote “against” in an election. “Many believed we performed creditably,” he said.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.