Difficult to say who will win

Political commentator Dr Winford James says it is difficult to predict who will become the next political leader of the People's National Movement (PNM) Tobago Council in Sunday's internal election because there is not an independent, scientific poll gauging members' support for the four candidates contesting the position.

"You do not have anybody doing a scientific poll of the PNM. What you have are snapshots of purporters and purporters are pretending that these snapshots are universal, which they aren't," he told Newsday.

"If you talk to people, you are going to find them talking from the perspective of who they support. There needs to be independent investigators of public opinion with respect to the likely fortunes of each of the candidates."

Incumbent Kelvin Charles, who became leader of the Tobago Council after a run-off in the 2016 internal election, is hoping to retain the position.

He is being challenged by TT Ambassador to Costa Rica Tracy Davidson-Celestine; Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary for Finance Joel Jack and former Tobago House of Assembly (THA) presiding officer Dr Denise Tsoiafatt-Angus.

James said while he has heard much talk about the candidates for political leader, he could not say if the comments reflect the feelings of the membership.

"For example, you are hearing that the incumbent is not a people-oriented person. He is aloof, stand-offish, doesn't make the most contact, if he ever had contact with the people and therefore, his style is alienating people. You are hearing that.

"But there are other people, of course, who support him and who say otherwise."

James said he has heard Davidson-Celestine is "ruling the east in terms of support.

"She was Deputy Chief Secretary and Secretary for Tourism under Orville London and then she has acquired international experience by being in Costa Rica. So, if there is dissatisfaction with the incumbent, then Tracy Davidson-Celestine is the obvious choice."

Saying people have described Jack as "suave and personable," the retired university lecturer said he understands Tsoiafatt-Angus has been "walking the ground more than anybody else.

"She is reaching out to everybody. She is personable and she had some experience. You are hearing that kind of talk."

He added: "So, people are likely to vote on the style of the challenger they are most comfortable with. That is what it seems to me. And if Kelvin loses, it will be because people are saying, 'We don't like your style. If Denise wins, it is because she is a nice lady. You could go up and talk to her."

James argued if one wants to advance the operations of the council and the issues confronting the island "those are not issues that one must use as I understand it."

James said he has heard anything on the campaign trail so far to suggest the candidates will "fundamentally challenge the relationship between Trinidad, on the one hand and Tobago, on the other."

A total of 45 candidates are contesting some 17 executive positions in Sunday's election.


"Difficult to say who will win"

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