Dear Editor: NAR couldn’t keep pre-election promises in 1986, will the PDP be any different?

“[…] I recalled the vociferous demands and protest by the then PSA leadership [in 1986] for an increase in salaries from the Government, while the opposition National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) promised that they would implement the requested increase.

“[…] Without an ounce of shame, I note the exact same premise [by the PDP that] the NAR used long ago…”

The following Letter to the Editor on the upcoming THA elections was submitted to Wired868 by former PNM MP for Arima Ashton Ford:

Photo: Tobago Heritage Dance Performers strut their stuff at the Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet during the 2015 Legends Football tournament.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

In the build up to the 1986 general elections, the Public Service Association (PSA) members were demanding a 15 percent increase in their salaries from then Prime Minister George Chambers.

The Prime Minister’s response was simply that it was not possible given the downturn in the economy, especially since the price of oil had dipped to nine dollars a barrel.

I recalled the vociferous demands and protest by the then PSA leadership for an increase in salaries from the Government, while the opposition National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) promised that they would implement the requested increase.

Mariano Browne, in his article on December 12 in the Guardian newspaper, stated: ‘The 1981-86 PNM administration fearing social unrest did not adjust expenditures, preferring instead to achieve a soft landing by maintaining a wide ranging subsidy regime.’

He further stated, ‘When energy prices collapsed in 1986 so too did the soft landing and the PNM suffered a landslide electoral defeat in 1986.’

Photo: Former NAR political leader and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister and President ANR Robinson.
(Copyright Ministry of Culture)

However, in less than four months after their 33-3 victory, the newly minted NAR Government had to face reality and take drastic decisions in order to cope with the dreaded economic situation.

Political history tells us the ‘One Love’ NAR Government did not implement the promised 15 percent increase. Instead they slashed the public servants salaries by 10 percent across the board and completely removed their Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).

Pandemonium erupted in the city as the public servants—and, by extension, the national population—reacted angrily to what they described as a betrayal of a promise which was made before the general elections. They renamed the NAR, ‘Never Again Robinson’.

What transpired after is now part of political memory. It signalled the death of the NAR and political demise of many of the party’s associates.

These undisputed facts are presented for the benefit of the electorate in Tobago, especially the youths who were not born at the time the upheaval occurred in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Photo: PDP political leader Watson Duke (centre) poses with supporters in Tobago.
(via PDP)

Late former England Prime Minister Winston Churchill once said ‘those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it’. Without an ounce of shame, I note the exact same premise the NAR used long ago.

I am not going to delve into the ridiculous promise put forward by the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) that THA employees would receive extra money in their bank accounts before Christmas, in addition to TT$10 million dollars for every district on the island.

All right-thinking citizens know that and God’s face they will never see.

The call for change for the sake of change could only have devastating effect—Tobagonians may get what they ask for but would definitely lose what they have now.

A word to the wise.

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