Trinidad and Tobago: Political Parties Material

Scope and Content

Trinidad and Tobago political party material, from 1955 onwards, comprising pamphlets, leaflets, newsletters, journals, manifestos, constitutions, histories, conference reports, statements and speeches issued by the Circle, the Democratic Action Congress (Trinidad and Tobago), the Democratic Labour Party (Trinidad and Tobago), the Indian Association of Trinidad and Tobago, the Liberal Party (Trinidad and Tobago), the National Alliance for Reconstruction (Trinidad and Tobago), the National Liberation Movement of Trinago, the People's National Movement, the People's Popular Movement (Trinidad and Tobago), Tapia (also known as the Tapia House Movement), the Trinidad Nationalist Movement, the Tripartite Committee of the Trinidad and Tobago Opposition Parties, United Labour Front, the United National Congress (Trinidad and Tobago), the United National Independence Party (Trinidad and Tobago), the Union of Revolutionary Organisations, the West Indian Independence Party of Trinidad and Tobago, West Indian National Party (Trinidad and Tobago), the Workers' and Farmers' Party (Trinidad and Tobago) and the Working People's Party of Trinidad and Tobago.

Administrative / Biographical History

Trinidad and Tobago gained independence following the dissolution of the British West Indies federation in 1962 with Eric Williams of the People's National Movement (PNM) becoming Prime Minister. He retained this position until his death in 1981, and it was only in 1986 that the PNM were finally removed from power. The first-past-the-post electoral system combined with a polarisation of political support along racial grounds (the majority of PNM support came from those of African descent, whilst Indians tended to support first the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and from 1976 the United Labour Front (ULF)) is cited in these materials as explaining the PNM's longevity in power. Williams survived the austerity of the 1960s and the surge in support for Black Power ideas around the time of the declaration of a state of emergency in 1970 (represented in print here by the Tapia House Movement), but his government subsequently benefitted from the revenues accrued from the post-1974 rise in oil prices. The overwhelming defeat suffered by the PNM in the 1986 elections followed the formation of an umbrella opposition group. the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR), which garnered votes from both main racial constituencies. The NAR was made up of the Organisation of National Reconstruction (ONR), the Democratic Action Congress (DAC), United Labour Force (ULF), and Tapia (the political party which evolved from the Tapia House Movement), subsequently splitting into the United National Congress (UNC) and a rump party which retained the NAR name. Materials from all of the groups referred to here are held in the collection.


Alphabetically by party, and then in rough chronological order.

Access Information

Open to all for research purposes; access is free for anyone in higher education.

Acquisition Information

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

Other Finding Aids

Records at item level on library catalogue (SASCAT)

Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Daniel Millum, Political Archives Project Officer at the Institutes of Commonwealth and Latin American Studies.

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can usually be obtained - apply to library staff.

Custodial History

The Commonwealth Political Parties Materials collection was begun in 1960-61, with special emphasis being placed then, as now, on 'primary material such as party constitutions, policy statements, convention reports and election manifestos.' (ICS, Twelfth Annual Report 1960-1961). Since then, the main method of gathering material has been to appeal directly to political parties throughout the Commonwealth, though contributions from Institute members and staff following visits to relevant countries have been significant. More recently material has been collected by means of downloading documents from the websites of the major parties.


Further accruals are expected, some in electronic form

Related Material

See also Trinidad and Tobago: Trades Unions Material (TU:TR) and Trinidad and Tobago: Pressure Groups Material (PG:TR), as well as Political Party, Trades Unions and Pressure Group Materials for other Commonwealth countries and related material in the library's main classified sequence, all held at the ICS.