Tracy Davidson-Celestine “led her troops” into an election and lost considerable ground and therefore ought to consider resigning as People’s National Movement Tobago leader.
So said former head of the Public Service and Tobago resident Reginald Dumas, who also expressed the view that the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) might emerge victorious, albeit by the slimmest of majorities, “7/5 margin”, in a re-run of the Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election.
In an interview with the Express yesterday, Dumas was asked to comment on the PNM’s loss of four seats in the THA, leading to a 6/6 tie with the PDP.
Dumas also said the zip line controversy was a factor in the way people voted. He said after questions were raised about the $2.5 million expenditure, the Prime Minister, rather than saying there would be an investigation, stated the first thing that Davidson-Celestine must do as Chief Secretary is continue the project.
Dumas said a lot of people have said that they are more impressed with (the outgoing Chief Secretary) Ancil Dennis who has handled himself extremely well since his appointment as Chief Secretary last January, “and I have to include myself in this group”.
“Tracy puts people off. Up to this morning someone was complaining to me about her. Her attitude is ‘look at me, I am in charge’..... . And people have said to me ‘but like this Dennis boy conducting himself properly, he sound good, his English is good, and he isn’t trying to push anything down anyone’s throat’,” Dumas said.
He noted that Davidson-Celestine won her seat (Lambeau/Signal Hill) by an unstable majority of some 50 votes. He added that the person who contested the seat for the PDP is no prominent resident but yet still came so close to changing the outcome against Davidson-Celestine who was in the news constantly.
“Quite frankly, if the people of Tobago had to vote tomorrow and you had Tracy versus Ancil for Chief Secretary the people of the Tobago would vote overwhelmingly for Ancil.” He also expressed scepticism that she could retain the Lambeau/Signal Hill seat in a re-run of the election.
PNM’s high-handed attitude
Dumas said the people of Tobago had become “a little weary of what they consider to be the high-handed attitude of the PNM towards them and they reacted accordingly”.
“With Tobago people they don’t go around telling you too much. They keep things to themselves, but they are watching you. And that is what was happening,” Dumas said.
He noted that the deadlock was a completely new situation to Tobago, adding that, according to the THA Act, the President swears in the assemblymen which she can do and the assemblymen then elect a presiding officer, which is going to cause the first problem. And if there’s no presiding officer you can’t move to elect a chief secretary, he said.
Addressing the election result, Dumas cited several factors for the PNM’s decline in numbers.
He said at the last minute the PNM went on a road-paving blitz and people thought it was cynical, asking why it was not done before.
“People took offence and said this is not the way to do things. [People took the position that] After I get my suspension lick up, because you didn’t fix the road for so many years, you now come and just before the election you’re fixing the road and expecting that I would vote for you. I am not doing that,” he said.
Another factor which affected particularly the Mason Hall/Moriah area, but which had a ripple effect in other places, was the removal of the former representative Sheldon Cunningham who was very popular. “He’s a down-to- earth fella. I know him long before he was in politics and he’s very easy-going, no airs about him. But this fellow Kwesi Des Vignes .... People were saying to me (Dumas) ‘they should not have treated Sheldon so”.”