Analyst: PDP will attack PNM’s Trinidad base

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PDP political leader Watson Duke, left, and THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine at the launch of the PDP’s Trinidad arm on Sunday at the Hyatt Regency. File photo/Jeff K Mayers

Political analyst Dr Shane Mohammed believes the Progressive Democratic Patriots’s (PDP) aim is to attack the base of the People’s National Movement (PNM) in Trinidad.

After a resounding 14-one victory in the THA elections five months ago, the PDP launched its Trinidad arm in grand fashion on Sunday at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain, with food, drinks and entertainment for its supporters.

PDP political leader Watson Duke unveiled the Trinidad executive and announced plans to spend a week in depressed communities to live their lifestyles.

He also said he hoped every home in Beetham would have a swimming pool and every home in Laventille a nice verandah. He also promised to make home ownership more affordable, with houses built for $300,000.

Mohammed said, “Whilst he would say and whilst he has said that they (PDP) would be contesting all seats in Trinidad, his focus would be in dethroning the PNM’s base and infiltrating the hardcore PNM seats like Laventille East and West, Port of Spain South – those depressed areas where he can make a linkage and provide a level of hope for the displaced and for the marginalised and for the young people especially, who are looking for some level of guidance and mentorship.”

He said there is a lot that Duke has to learn and recognise, as the political culture of Trinidad is vastly different from that of Tobago.

“And there were some.,, what I would identify as characters – they are not personalities, they are characters – that appeared on his executive council for Trinidad that need to understand their role and functions in order for the PDP in Trinidad to be successful.”

He said close attention must also be paid to the United National Congress (UNC).

“We have to look on and see what is going to happen to the UNC and their internal elections and whether the UNC has the capabilities and the resilience to bounce back. That’s a serious observation that even as a political scientist I’m doubtful about.”

He added: “We now also have on board the National Transformation Alliance, which is being co-ordinated by former commissioner (of police) Gary Griffith. and we also have the Justice and Freedom Party that is being co-ordinated by Herbert Volney.

“All of these political parties are simply going to add a strain to the electorate, and if they all continue operating as silos, it is going to give the PNM a free pass.”

There must be genuine dialogue, he said, taking into consideration the greater scheme of things, which is the welfare of the people of TT, and if this doesn’t happen, “then the gates to the Diplomatic Centre and to Whitehall is open to anyone who is serious, focused, strategic, diplomatic and who understands what is needed 60 years after independence, and for TT to be able to move forward in a progressive manner, in a prosperous manner, and in a manner that provides equality, equity and opportunity for all.”

He believes Trinidad could learn from Tobago politics.

“One of those things that is embedded and has to resonate with Trinidadians is not only the want for change and the need for change and the desire for change, but to activate and to action, to make a move and to make a bold move towards that change.”

The PDP in Trinidad must not become a burden to the PDP in Tobago, he warned.

“I believe that there has to be a lot of cohesion and that Tobago must lead Trinidad in this venture that Watson Duke is embarking upon, and there is a lot of political education that is required.”

In January, he told Newsday Duke’s ambitions in Trinidad were premature and irrational, and he should focus on one project at a time.

“I still think there is more to learn, a lot of learning to be done on the part of those aspiring under Duke’s PDP Trinidad to bring about the change that they foresee, or they envision.

“However, my concern is that it doesn’t change the fact that Duke is still irrational, and he has the potential to not say the right things at the right time…

“I stand by my statement: he’s still very irrational and I am concerned about that irrationality and how does it mesh with the executive in Trinidad, and also how does it marry that of Tobago.”

He whilst the country accepted its current prime minister’s leadership styles, skills, traits, behaviours during his tenure, it was not going to accept any glimmer of or any inkling of the same come 2025, adding that in that year there will be several options.

“We also have to take into consideration that the PNM is an institution, and it has a very fantastic political strategy about reinventing itself and rebranding itself, redirecting itself, And therefore they are not just going to roll over and play dead and throw their hands up in the air.

“They are going to make the changes necessary, as long as they have realised that there is political vulnerability at stake.”