THE first tremor of an earthquake within the People’s National Movement (PNM) Tobago leadership took place last night, when Tracy Davidson-Celestine became the first female political leader of the PNM’s Tobago Island Council, dethroning Kelvin Charles in the historic run-off.
Davidson-Celestine received 3,150 votes against Charles’ 2,042. She got 61 per cent of the total vote, while Charles received 39 per cent.
In her victory speech, Davidson-Celestine said her first move would be to inform the people of Tobago about her 100-day plan, which was detailed in her manifesto.
She said it involved reconciliation, “bringing all the different teams and arms of the party together”.
She noted that the process had already started with two of the challengers for the leadership, Joel Jack and Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus, joining forces with her. Davidson-Celestine was flanked by both Jack and Tsoiafatt-Angus as she delivered her speech last night.
“We expect to see reconciliation taking place at every level in the PNM,” Davidson-Celestine stated.
It is one year before the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) elections and what happens over the next 12 months is now a matter engaging the party’s attention.
While the political leader of the Tobago arm of the party has changed, in theory nothing significant has happened in terms of the THA.
Charles remains THA Chief Secretary and retains the power to bestow political patronage, including the appointment and dismissal of secretaries in the THA.
One of his senior appointments, Jack, deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary of Finance and the Economy, may be in trouble.
But the Express understands that one of the options being considered by THA assemblymen/women is to write to the President saying that they no longer support Charles and that they support Joel Jack as the Chief Secretary.
Though she is now Charles’ political boss, there is no way that Davidson-Celestine can become Chief Secretary until the next THA elections because the Chief Secretary must be an elected member of the THA.
Davidson-Celestine would therefore have to wait until the January 2021 THA elections.
However, she could become a nominated member of the THA, a councillor, almost immediately if appointed by the Chief Secretary.
Sources said councillors Nadine Stewart and Kwesi Des Vignes, who were “fierce” Charles supporters, are likely to go.
Davidson-Celestine could be a logical replacement, given her new status in the party. “A Tobago political leader who is not a member of the Assembly is like a PNM political leader who is not a member of the Parliament, especially with the party having a majority in the House,” one source noted.
“Therefore there are some tremors to come. The earthquake took place tonight and the after-shock will come from tomorrow (today),” the source added.
Another interesting development would be the relationship between the new PNM Tobago Council political leader and the chairman of the council, Stanford Callendar, who was vehemently pro-Charles and even sang a calypso in the campaign which was thought to be disparaging of Davidson-Celestine.
Sources said given the name-calling, the low blows and the bitterness in the campaign, it may be very difficult to continue under the present arrangements and therefore drastic changes are likely.