PDP deputy: Don’t lump us with NTA, UNC

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

PDP deputy leader Kezel Jackson at the launch of the party’s Trinidad arm at the Hyatt, Port of Spain, May 1. – JEFF K MAYERS

Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy leader for Trinidad, Kezel Jackson said her party’s appeal is not limited to the 40 per cent of the under represented in society. Jackson also took umbrage to political commentators lumping the PDP with new parties such as former CoP Gary Griffith’s National Transformation Alliance (NTA).

The PDP, founded in 2016, launched its Trinidad arm on May 1 at the Hyatt Regency in Port of Spain. The Watson Duke-led party’s entry into Trinidad comes five months after it decimated the People’s National Movement (PNM) 14-1 in the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections.

Jackson was responding to a letter to the editor titled Duke’s moving target. In the letter, the author, Lynette Joseph, discussed the attributes of a political leader in TT, noting qualifications are important.

She said,”Any leader, male or female, must look the part, speak the part and act the part. Charisma and popularity mean nothing if the individual is unable to grasp what pertains to being realistic.”

Joseph criticised Duke’s comments at the Hyatt where he pledged to eradicate poverty in Trinidad. Duke said his dream was to see every home in Beetham with a swimming pool and each house in Laventille a verandah.

Joseph said these promises were “obscenely silly” and the eradication of poverty remains a moving target in the First World and Third World.

Political analyst Dr Bishnu Ragoonath believes the PDP and NTA can challenge the PNM for governance for TT.

Ragoonath said the PNM and UNC only account for about 60 per cent of the electorate therefore the PDP and NTA should target the remaining 40 per cent who may feel disillusioned.

Some political commentators have also express concern that PDP’s Trinidad ambitions could affect PDP’s control of the THA.

But Jackson dismissed all concerns saying, “It would be a grave error of any political scientist or political activists to omit the facts. Firstly, the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) is at at the helm of the executive arm of the THA which encompasses the legislative and administrative arm. There are two executives in Trinidad and Tobago. The only competition right now as it stands is between the PDP and the PNM.”

Jackson also scoffed at some comments equating the THA to that of local government.

“PDP led by our political leader, Mr Watson Solomon Duke controls an executive arm. Tobago House of Assembly (THA) is a legislative body responsible for the island of Tobago within the unitary state of Trinidad and Tobago. This power must not be debased to just normal local government functions since THA handles many of the responsibilities of the central government.”

Jackson said the history and pedigree of the PDP must not be dismissed in political conversations.

“PDP is in a class by itself and must not be unevenly yoked with another, not the UNC nor the NTA. The NTA led by a new political aspirant is just that, with no track record, no history. We cannot allow for such clumping of parties without stating the

facts.”

She said Duke’s leadership qualities and dreams must not be understated.

Referring to comments made by the former PSA leader in 2019, Jackson said Duke’s aim was always to get the “working class” into the decision-making positions in Parliament. On the rooftop at PSA headquarters,Port of Spain, Duke had told the media, “If we could find 41 people from the 80,000 that we represent we are going to challenge them – win, lose or draw…Because the governance of this country, whether it be PNM or UNC, is not working for us”

Jackson said Duke is simply staying true to the commitment he made.