Representatives of three political parties in Tobago—Platform of Truth (PTP), Tobago Forwards (TF), and Tobago Organisation of the People (TOP)- voted on Sunday to determine if one new political entity should be formed under the theme “One Voice”.
The 24 members of the three organisations gave their leaders — Christlyn Moore (TF), Hochoy Charles (PTP) and Ashworth Jack (TOP) — the mandate to create one political “team” at the 2nd membership meeting held at the Rovanel’s Resort, Store Bay Local Road.
The group’s aim is not to immediately contest elections but to unite, use the constitution to gain more autonomy for Tobago and “fix negative challenges affecting Tobago,” Charles said.
He said the structure means that the group will determine the “vehicle” that should be formed to speak as one “to gain liberation for Tobago ... and a better system of government of Tobago within the country.”
As a team, they have no name, symbol, structure or constitution, as yet, and currently, refer to themselves as the Tobago Liberation and Empowerment Team.
Raymond ‘Finey’ Alleyne, a member of the audience, said he was concerned about the ‘partnership falling apart’ given the history of the three leaders and members of the parties.
“I have become so disillusioned about politics and politicians... I want an assurance that if it (team) shifts left or right it does not all fall apart,” he said to loud applause from the audience.
In reply, Moore said the issue is on many peoples’ minds.
“We have all come from different places,” she said, “but really and truly we have come from the bosom of the same place, what you have is an organisation going back to the source.”
Another member asked if the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) led by Watson Duke would join the group.
“He met at one meeting, but we are hoping he will return to talks,” TOP’s leader said.
On the issue of the meeting’s poor attendance, Charles said the parties’ first meeting on March 17, was attended by 70 of the 85 specially invited members and they gave the leaders a mandate to return to the membership on May 5.
“Had we known there was going to be two harvests (celebrations)—one in Belle Garden and the other in Canaan—we would have cancelled for another date and there would have been more people,” Charles said.
History of Tobago alliances
This is the third incarnation of a move by political parties in Tobago to form one body to take gain more autonomy for Tobago through the constitution.
Recently, Hochoy Charles joined with the People’s National Movement’s Tobago Council and then Chief Secretary Orville London as well as TOP’s leader Ashworth Jack, to form the Tobago Forum of Political Parties. Jack left soon after joining the People’s Partnership.
Prior to that, Arthur NR Robinson and Winston Murray of the Democratic Action Congress (DAC) joined as a team and made the first call in the 1970s to provide for more control of Tobago’s affairs in Tobago.