Monday’s electoral victory by Jack Warner in the Chaguanas elections in Trinidad & Tobago is sending a significant message throughout the entire English-speaking Caribbean.
Dogged by numerous allegations of corruption, wrong-doing and bribery, Mr. Warner was able to create a bit of history and defeat a candidate put up by the United National Congress (UNC) faction of the People’s Partnership government in a traditional UNC stronghold.
It is the first time that a non-UNC candidate would have won a seat in a constituency that has a large Indian population.
Mr. Warner’s victory has also sent home the message loud and clear that Caribbean people are becoming more and more concerned about bread and butter issues and nothing else.
It clearly does not matter to the people of the Chaguanas constituency in Trinidad & Tobago what Mr.Warner did or did not do to get his money, but once he serviced their needs then it was only that and that alone that matters to them.
The allegations of wrong-doing with FIFA funds was not an issue for the electorate.
As long as Mr. Warner was able to deliver “the goodies” to the residents of Chaguanas then nothing mattered.
As a matter of fact, his victory at the polls was all the more astonishing as he was up against a government machinery that was not short on cash and “goodies” of their own to defeat him in the elections.
That in itself has implications for the PPP government whenever general elections are held in the Twin Island republic.
But there is a lot of similarity in the manner in which the people of Chaguanas in Trinidad voted when compared with the February 19 election results in Grenada where the New National Party (NNP) in opposition was able to wipe out the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) at the polls.
THE NEW TODAY would want to believe that the Peter David factor was not the main cause for the massive defeat of then Prime Minister Tillman Thomas at the hands of Dr. Mitchell and NNP.
The Grenadian electorate voted for “their pockets” and fell for the NNP slogan of, “We will deliver”.
The allegations of corruption and questionable deals by Mitchell and his former NNP Comrades between 1995 and 2008 did not persuade the electorate in Grenada to stay the course with Mr. Thomas and company.
If this is the case then Prime Minister Mitchell and his NNP lot will understand that the electorate will most likely judge them next time – not on issues of corruption and wrong-doing – but on the track record on deliverables.
The message is seemingly coming out from our people up and down the region that it is not their business where their respective governments get the money to look after their needs, once they find it and deliver on the promises.
One recalls a statement made by a serious senior citizen, a tradesman in St. Andrew South-east in the campaign during Grenada’s general election.
This gentleman was not concerned about the debt situation in the country, but only jobs and jobs since as far as he is concerned the politicians are put there to deal with the debts however they could but more important to him was their ability to provide him with a job to feed his family and to enjoy a decent living.
The one thing that was missing – is that the gentleman does not want to hear anything about a linkage between servicing the huge national debt and providing jobs for the people.
So what is the message coming from the electorate to all up and coming politicians? Are they saying loud and clear that the only thing that matters to get my vote is your ability to deliver to satisfy my wants and needs?
Are we seeing a particular change in which our politicians can get away with murder once they satisfy the economic and financial needs of their constituency?
The recent poll in Barbados was similar in outlook. The opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was heavily favoured by the pollsters to defeat the incumbent Democratic Labour Party (DLP) which would have seen a return to power of Owen Arthur as the Prime Minister.
There were widespread reports of massive DLP funding right until the day of elections and this is believed to have tipped the scale in their balance allowing the party to hold onto power with a very slight majority of seats.
Both the DLP and NNP are now charged with the responsibility of dealing with the harsh economic and financial conditions facing Barbadians and Grenadians respectively – given the manner in which the electorate in both islands choose to cast their ballots.
The politicians in the other islands must be taking notes carefully about the manner in which the people voted for Warner in Chaguanas, Dr. Mitchell in Grenada and Prime Minister Stuart in Barbados.
“Goodies” for the people was all that mattered.
THE NEW TODAY would also like to welcome in the best possible Grenadian tradition all locals and visitors alike who are now among us to enjoy the August festival including the Carriacou Regatta, Rainbow City Festival and our own Carnival celebrations.
Let us as Grenadians make it an enjoyable stay for our visitors so that not only they come back next year but convince others in North America, Europe and the Caribbean to put SpiceMas on their annual holiday schedule.