PDP launches in Trinidad: Duke promises ‘in touch’ style of politics

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

– Jeff K. Mayers

PROGRESSIVE Democratic Patriots (PDP) leader Watson Duke promised a more “in touch” style of politics than those of rival incumbent parties, including helping people to get housing, distributing 1,000 loaves of bread in poor areas each week and planning a march against recent gasoline price hikes.

He made the promises while addressing the PDP’s launch in Trinidad at the Hyatt Regency on Sunday.

Holding a spear, he appealed to listeners to sign up as he seeks to build a “Spartan army.”

Also addressing the packed hall was Tobago House of Assembly (THA) chief secretary Farley Augustine.

Duke accused the ruling PNM of putting itself above ordinary people, but said the PDP would never do that.

On the PDP’s sweep of the THA polls, he alleged the Prime Minister had wanted to tell people what to do but Tobagonians had rejected that position.

“We fought with everything we had,” he said of the PDP win.

Duke said Dr Rowley and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar were both 70 years old and, in his view, should be at home with their grandchildren.

He promised a bright future for Trinidad and Tobago. “We will decentralise power from central government. We’ll stop making them gods.”

Duke lamented that public servants had their jobs threatened if they had not agreed to take the covid19 vaccine and complained that they now face rising costs of gasoline, housing and healthcare, while their wages remained frozen.

“How many people can buy a house, even an HDC house?” he asked. Duke said he would try to get houses built for $300,000. He also said he hoped every home in Beetham would have a swimming pool and every home in Laventille a nice verandah.

Duke said he planned to spend a week in depressed communities to live among residents and share their lifestyles. He lamented children hardly play cricket and football together, compared to the past, and hoped to reverse this trend and have them interact more.

He hoped to reduce the mindset of unhealthy competition in schools, but have a more collaborative learning environment with pupil helping pupil.

“We can’t make it unless all of us make it.”

Duke said the PDP will give people hope. He urged listeners to tell the current political directorate their days would soon be over as the PDP seeks to build a new TT.

More broadly, he promised to empower local government and hoped to see the THA head enjoy the same status as Cabinet’s head, the prime minister.

Earlier, Augustine said after 60 years of independence, Tobago and Trinidad were not equal. “Where’s the autonomy? Where’s the equity?”

The PDP introduced its other executive officials. Suzette Louwe and Kezel Jackson are deputy political leaders. The chairman is dentist Peter McClean. The vice chairmen are Maryam Abdullah and Dr John Paul Alexander. Other officials are Ronald Rattan (assistant secretary), June James (education officer) and Laura Guaverra (membership officer.)