As it was in the beginning, Watson Duke’s Progressive Democratic Patriots is once again a party of one.
The situation developed yesterday after Duke resigned as Deputy Chief Secretary, as his continuing spat with Tobago House of Assembly Chief Secretary Farley Augustine imploded before those seeking to mend ties between the men could achieve their goal.
Quite disturbingly to those who gave the PDP a mandate to run Tobago’s affairs in last December’s election, Duke instead chose to become another minority member of the THA rather than resolve the issues with his former right-hand man.
And so, for a man who formed a party with the lofty goal of offering Tobagonians an alternative, Duke will now, unfortunately, be remembered as the man who squandered massive political support in record time.
In less than ten months in office, Duke has put himself in the THA doghouse, as the once 14-1 majority the PDP had is now reduced to 13-1-1, with the public still unsure whether those members on the governing side will still hold to the PDP ideology they espoused on the campaign platform?
Instead, Duke now vows to sit across from Augustine but not with the PNM. What he intends to do in that position is now anybody’s guess, since if we are to look at the signs, the other 12 PDP members are in support of Farley and Duke can only be a voice of opposition in the THA.
Mr Duke’s effectively taken his ball and gone home. To quote him, “When Watson Duke moves away, he carries the PDP with him.”
It now remains to be seen if Augustine will form a new party as Duke alleges.
Duke claims his stance is one where he is fighting for the people of Tobago. Unfortunately, he has now given up the trust and hope handed to him by those same people.
And of course, Tobagonians are still mostly in the dark over what caused such a rapid deterioration of the relationship between two men who once held out hope a Tobago-bred party could guide the affairs of the people on the island.
Far from showing he could rule with a level-headed temperament, Duke’s regressed to what he knows best from his trade union days. Duke was in a position to enact change. But governance isn’t easy and there’s less room for theatrics when you’re restricted by protocol and process.
Duke has thus once again shown he is unable or unwilling to face opposition, whether it comes from the public or his party merely wanting him to play by the rules, which is par for the course when in power.
Mr Augustine, to his credit, has shown he is willing to defend the public purse and put people over party. If Duke can show otherwise, we call on him to bring the evidence against the Chief Secretary instead of making spurious allegations.
Duke’s now announced he will contest the Local Government Election. He’s made no secret about his desire to be Prime Minister and has been campaigning heavily in Beetham, Sea Lots and Laventille hoping to wrest power from the PNM’s grip. However, given the PDP fiasco, John Public may never ever truly be able to trust Duke with such responsibility again.