Commentary: Election Tricks

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What do free water tanks, priority schools, baby grants, HDC housing drives, food card giveaways and VAT-free foods for Christmas all have in common?

If you were thinking genuine moves to benefit the people of Trinidad and Tobago, you, my dear are wrong.

All of these wonderful “gifts” to the nation mysteriously get dropped close to elections, be it local or general. Most people with at least 100 functioning brain cells see the politricks miles away, but for some bizarre reason party loyalist eat this up.

It’s sort of like the government gently bribing you, hoping these things will work like a drink of straight Puncheon rum and wipe our memory of the last five years blank.


Time and time again we magically see roads getting paved, box drains getting built and a host of freeness being passed around in the months leading up to elections.

They are minor and cheap, and frankly insulting. And it doesn’t matter which political party is in power.

The problem with these gimmicks is that they are often aimed at the elderly and the nation’s most vulnerable.

If I was catching my tail as a single mother, working night shifts in a minimum-wage job so I can give my children a comfortable life and a man painted in yellow or red comes to my house with a food card and smooth smile, well… my vote they have.


Even better if an MP whose name I cannot remember because he/she has never addressed any issues in my area, hands me keys for an HDC house, after being on the list for years; well kill me dead cause my memory has been wiped blank and forget what people say my MP is the best!

Morally it’s pretty atrocious, but as we all know, politics and morals rarely work hand in hand.

Another problem I have is when the parties suddenly bust out all these ideas and projects they will embark on, once re-elected or elected.

Recently, at a party meeting the Prime Minister revealed $800 million had been allocated for the completion and rehabilitation of 24 schools.

Firstly great! Education should forever be a priority. However why now? If this had been in the works for the past few months, why wait until now to announce it? Seems fishy Dr Keith.



Easy aunty Kams, you are no better. As we all know, legislation has finally been put in place to support the decriminalisation of marijuana. While some people would like to think this is just another election gimmick, the reality is cottage meetings and consultations had been happening for quite a while.

So it is rather tasteless of the opposition to be bawling “GIMMICK! GIMMICK!” when not even a month or ago, they too were promising marijuana legislation.

Which again I ask, why didn’t you do it when you were in power? Had you passed that legislation you might have been re-elected, without having to give baby grants.


Unfortunately, for years these tricks have worked.

I once met a woman who was crimson and proud, until a hopeful candidate of the rising sun was giving away Christmas hampers in her area. All it took was one basket of biscuits and wine and this lady was painting her house yellow.

Unfortunately for this Santa Claus of a candidate, the majority of people in this area either couldn’t be bought or were diabetic thus preventing them from enjoying their gifts of liquor and refined sugar.


I’d like to think the fact that this suspiciously generous candidate did not win the seat was because over time we as Trinidadians have evolved passed cheap tricks.

More and more we are now demanding results on promises made and new overnight promises on the eve of elections aren’t cutting it anymore.

This may come as a surprise to some in the political sphere, but not all of us are dumb dumbs.

Not all of us still adhere to the “gimme gimme” train of thought. It’s us free thinkers that often are deciding factor as to who wins, since we have seen how party loyalty very rarely benefits those who are most loyal.


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