Trinidad & Tobago: Will Warner Win?

Austin “Jack” Warner has held many important posts in his lifetime, including FIFA Vice President (beleaguered though his tenure was) and Minister of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago. Tomorrow, he will be fighting to reclaim the title of Minister of Parliament for Chaguanas West, the post from which he voluntarily resigned on the heels of his resignations from Cabinet and as Chairman of the United National Congress, one of the political parties that forms the governing People's Partnership government. He will be contesting the by-election under the banner of his newly-formed political entity, the Independent Liberal Party.

The “Green Party”, as it is called, has been holding elaborate political rallies almost every night in the lead-up to the polls, many of which have been broadcast by mainstream media. The large crowds, questionable campaign tactics and race-centric rhetoric have prompted heated discussions on Facebook, but bloggers have also been sharing their perspectives.

aka_lol expained, tongue firmly in cheek, that the key issue in this election is box drains:

Despite all the learned talk, the Chaguanas West by-elections is not about good governance since the average citizen of this country has no idea what that means or care to Google it. The successful candidate in this election, aka voters’ choice, will be the person who the majority wants to be in charge of their most primal need, the need for proper box drains.

He continued:

In choosing a box drain leader, the people of Chaguanas West will have to go with their guts. We all know that Jack, the owner and CEO of the Independent Liberal Party’s (ILP), has listened to more box drain woes from citizens of this blessed land than any person on the planet. Because of his compassion for the box-drain-challenged, Jack is considered by many to be the foremost box drain authority in the country and probably the entire universe. I am not sure how much Kadija, the United National Congress (UNC) candidate, actually knows about box drains but she has been campaigning in the area with the Prime Minister, giving out gift boxes which might be symbolic of both future box drains and empty promises inside. Avinash, the Peoples National Movement (PNM)’s candidate, is a farmer and because of his party’s track record may prefer to build an aluminum smelter or church with state funds.

The Rag, a blog by Robin Montano, understandably had a lot to say on the election. Montano, a former senator for both the People's National Movement (currently in opposition) and the United National Congress, has joined Warner's new party as interim Chairman. The upcoming Chaguanas by-election got him talking about race in politics:

For the very first time in our modern political history the country has an opportunity to turn away from the traditional racial voting and trying something ‘new’ (and I put that word deliberately in inverted commas). The PNM has always been openly, if not blatantly, racial.

As for the UNC, well under Basdeo Panday it made a serious effort to move to the centre and be ‘all inclusive’. It's predecessor, the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) was a right wing Hindu party where only Hindus needed to apply. Panday, to his great credit, was much more secular and pragmatic in his thinking…which brings us down to today. The present leaders of the UNC certainly held themselves out to be ‘all inclusive’ in the Panday mode…but since the by-election was announced, the gloves have come off and all pretence (sic) about being a national and a nationalist political organisation has been dropped. Just about every single person in the top brass of the UNC from Prime Minister Persad Bissessar on down has come out and preached a line that sounds dangerously close to saying to the people ‘vote race’.

And here is where the opportunity for the country is rearing it's head. If Jack Warner was to win in next Monday's by-election it will send a very loud signal … an almost earth shattering one … that the old way of thinking is well and truly dead. No longer can politicians come to us and say ‘vote for me because I am African/Indian’. Now they are going to have to come and say ‘vote for me because I can and will perform!’

Unsurprisingly, the post predicts that Warner will win the Chaguanas West seat, saying:

It is clear that only Mr. Warner has approached the electorate with a modern 21st century mindset. Mr. Warner has basically said ‘look, I am a performer. When I was your MP I performed and delivered those services that you required. Further, when serious allegations were made against me (all of which I deny) I resigned my seat to give you the opportunity to decide whether or not you still wanted me to represent you in the Parliament of our country’.

A Trini Speaks, a blog written in the slang of Trinidad and Tobago, was also leaning towards a Warner win:

When people wake up on de mornin’ ah July 30th, it go be tuh de realization dat Jack Warner representin’ Chaguanas West again. I tinkin’ it go only be one set ah people who go be surprised doh – Kamla an’ she peeps.

Dis is ah increasingly dutty fight Kamla havin’ wid Jack. It just happen tuh be in Chaguanas West. Yuh eh go be able tuh dodge de unparalleled bacchanal dat comin’ wid Jack’s victory doh.

The blogger took issue with the level of “electioneerin” by the United National Congress, the party of the current Prime Minister:

Who is Khadijah Ameen?

Yes, she is de UNC candidate fuh Chaguanas West.

Maybe ah should ah ask who is de UNC candidate fuh de seat. Den yuh would ah start tuh say, ‘Kaam’, den cyatch yuhself. De way Kamla been campaginin’ it look like she, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, is de real candidate.

Why Kamla refusin’ tuh remember de larse election? She fuhget how she waltz over tuh de sister isle an’ try tuh take over? Actin’ like she presence alone would sway voters? She figured eef she convince dem dat cat in bag is ah good buy, dey would ah buy all de candidates she had in dem bags. Well people in Tobago eh dotish an’ Kamla end up holdin’ de bag an’ covered in whitewash.

It eh de same strategy in Chaguanas West only more personal an’ stinker? Kamla’s goal is tuh destroy Jack at all costs…She was perfectly fine tuh have him in she inner circle when he was dis hardest wukkin’ minister, buh now, she more den willin’ tuh criticize all de tings she didn’t have ah problem wid before.

He continued:

Although ah say plenty times me eh no fan ah Jack Warner’s politics, dat eh have nuttin tuh do wid he intelligence. Eef he was dotish he wouldn’t have dis bottomless pit ah money dat Kamla only now questionin’.

Jack eh just catch ah vaps an’ resign he seat den say he goin’ an’ ask he ex-constituents tuh re-elect him. He have ah plan.

The post also made the point that Warner has strong ties with his constituents. The blogger should know; he lives in Chaguanas West:

Certified or not, ah know it have someting between Jack an’ he constituents. It eh tribal politics an’ Kamla tactics eh breakin’ dat bond. Jack is dey don.

He ended by revealing who he will vote for tomorrow:

I so reach mih limit wid dis campaign. While ah not ah vengeful person ah cyar see mihself votin’ fuh de UNC/PP.

Me eh care eef he was de hardest wukkin’ minister. Not even eef he eh spend plenty time applyin’ fuh houses fuh people outside he district. Ah parsin’ on Jack. Plus he might ups an’ disappear an’ gorn. Next ting ah hear, he in ah land far away on ah multi year restricted forced vacation. From all dat hard wuk maybe?

I eh even have tuh tink about mih no vote fuh de PNM. I cyar support ah belief in tribal politics like is someting multi ethnic Trinbago cook up.

Dat leave Dr. Kirk Meighoo. Me eh know nuttin…

Buh wait.

Dat eh it?

Dat is it right dey!!

Jack go win buh ah know who I votin’ for.

If Warner does win, The Rag says it will “[change] the politics of this country for what can only be the better”. aka_lol sees it an entirely different way:

Regardless of the victor in these elections there will be fireworks on the night the results are known with the country being the biggest loser.


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