The defeat of the People’s National Movement (PNM) in Tobago’s Assembly House on Monday was not a “complete surprise” for PNM political leader and Prime Minister Dr. Kate Rowley, but the 14-1 defeat shocked him. Mason Hall is a man buried deep in the village.
That district, Mason Hall / Moria, was also hit by a PDP wave.
Dr. Rowley has won five consecutive PNMs, but will be the first Tobago-born prime minister to lose the THA election.
“I’m disappointed. If I told you I wasn’t disappointed, I wouldn’t be honest,” he told the Guardian Media in an interview with the Prime Minister’s Office in Tobago.
‘If we had won, I would have preferred. We did our best, but we didn’t get the results we wanted. Maybe the best wasn’t enough, “he added, speaking for the first time since Monday’s defeat.
(2017) It was written on the wall as it moved into a 6-6 stalemate with the DP, a political party that has been in power for three years, from a majority in 10 districts. Dr. Rowley knew he could be defeated, but admitted that he was surprised the defeat was “so severe.”
“So I wasn’t surprised we lost, but I was a little surprised at the extent of the defeat,” he concluded.
But a week later, the prime minister has already wondered why the people of Tobago are so eager to change their representatives, and may have chosen a new political party instead of the current 60-year-old institution.
He believes that the party’s mandate, changes in the voting population, and some of the economic challenges posed by COVID-19 have been key factors.
“Don’t forget that we’re doing this during the recession and the second year of the plague. There’s not much you can do to make yourself famous,” he explained.
He said the DP’s five consecutive TSA victories were also a disadvantage.
“People get divorced on the grounds that they’ve been married for too long.”
“You’ve won five times and you’re going to be elected for the sixth time, no matter what those five terms were,” he said.
Dr. Rowley also speculates that many of the young people who voted against the PNM may not have understood the progress that has been made on the island.
According to him, PNM would be in office for most of their lives and there may be no other comparison.
“They look forward to the horizon. Why am I not a pilot, why am I not a billionaire, why don’t I have a business?” But it’s easy to deny that you’ve made progress in the fight against it. That’s why it’s hard for those people to see you as a savior or a first choice when you’re in office for a long time, because for them you’re there and you haven’t done anything. “
The idea of politicians and officials may have contributed to this. Dr. Rowley believes the PNM needs more politicians in Tobago.
“If you are a politician, you will be more concerned about the political impact of your existence,” he said. If you are an official, you can understand that you are influencing people, even if you are not, ”he said.
He said it was a call to awaken the party and demand that the party rebuild itself.
Should Tracy Davidson-Celestin resign?
Dr. Rowley is not saying whether Tobago’s PNM Executive Board chairman Tracy Davidson-Celestin should resign, but she hopes the party tradition will be respected.
He was asked if the results of the last two elections were grounds for Davidson-Celestin’s resignation in the Westminster tradition.
“I don’t have to go to the Westminster system, I just have to stay with the PNM,” he said.
Dr. Rowley recalled the defeat of former Prime Minister Patrick Manning in the 1995 general election, when he campaigned against his party on the grounds that he had lost.
At the time, he believed that membership should reflect the leader’s views.
“We called it ‘re-certification’ at the time. It means that the leader is responsible for the defeat, and you can resign and create a position within the organization. The leader can compete again if he wants to. Whether membership continues or you change the leadership will determine. “
Dr. Rowley said the effort created a one-man, one-electoral system in the party.
“So it’s not about anyone or the current situation. It’s something that has developed in the party, and we want it to be respected.
On Thursday, Stanford Calendar, chairman of the PNM Tobago Island Council, resigned and called for the council’s executive director to do the same.
Davidson-Celestin replied that he spoke for himself.
But according to Dr. Rowley, no one can order anyone to resign.
“But in the context of what you’re saying, what the party is facing now is that it needs to start rebuilding immediately. That’s all.”
Asked if he believed it was possible to “reform” the party under his leadership, Dr. Rowley said it was not for him.
He said he would not give any advice on the matter and would do it privately if necessary.
In the end, I have no doubt that the officials will put the interests of the party above the interests of the individual and the interests of the country above the interests of the party.
Prime Minister Tobago has insisted that the country will not be punished for its decision during the referendum, and anyone who proposes it is just looking for something to catch.
“I know I’m running a government in T&T and I don’t want to punish anyone,” he said. At the government level, he said, “we are leaning back to work in the interests of the people of Tobago.”
This will not change the position of Watson Duke on the political platform.
In fact, one of the first issues to be addressed is whether the law is being implemented or not. Regarding the position approved by Duke, he said he would continue to serve as president of the PSC, but would not be paid after being appointed to the THA. Attorney General Duke wrote about what the law says.
However, Dr. Rowley insists that the people of Tobago will not be influenced by the decision on the island. Asked if the results showed a decline in his reputation in Tobago, Dr. Rowley said he did his best for the island.
“Anyway, that’s it. But the only thing I can do to fall asleep and wake up is do my best for the people of Tobago in a very difficult situation.”
Bullying during the campaign
The Prime Minister ignored the bullying during the election campaign. He was accused of using “naval tactics” by THA’s new secretary general, Farley Augustine.
Speaking on Victory Day, Augustine said the victory should be a strong message to the Prime Minister that such bullying is part of Trinidad’s political culture and that Tobago will not be treated well.
However, he made “very strict” observations and warnings at the meeting in Mason Hall, and he has consistently stopped doing so.
Among them was the issue of leaving Tobago Trinidad, and the new Secretary General of THA is happy to take a break from anything related to it. Members of Tobago’s electorate were concerned about how he would deal with them, Dr. Rowley said, adding that he had never had such a problem in his 40 years in politics.
“My style in politics is to keep my word,” he said.
“If you’re explaining to me that you can’t or shouldn’t say these things, that’s the only way I know,” he replied.
“I have never insulted anyone in Tobago in the political arena,” he said. I have never insulted anyone in politics. I approached the problem, responded to the problem, raised the issue, and took a firm stand. ”