Watson Duke is not intimidated by Tobago East MP Ayanna Webster-Roy ahead of their showdown for the Tobago East seat in the next general election. Webster-Roy was reselected, on Sunday, as the PNM candidate ahead of Dr Kern Johnson.
Duke, who lost to Webster-Roy in the 2015 general election, told Newsday on Monday he is ready for round two before the polls and is confident he will be the people’s choice this time.
"I am not intimidated by her and we are already confident – a matter of fact, I welcome this fight,” Duke said.
The Minority Leader lost to Webster-Roy by 6,155 votes in 2015 but he feels heartened by that result.
“Remember at that time I was only two months into it, she spent 60 years under the PNM. I will prove to them what the people are looking for; someone to represent them, not all that dress-up and make-up and folly."
Two months after he threw his hat in the political ring, in 2015, the Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) leader garnered 1,796 votes compared to Webster-Roy's 7,951.
Duke's tally was the second highest of the six contenders and he promised to return in the 2017 Tobago House of Assembly (THA) election with a team “that will shake Tobago.”
Duke captured two of 12 THA seats in the Parlatuvier/L' Anse Fourmi/Speyside and Roxborough/Delaford electoral districts– seats previously held by PNM for over ten years.
Asked to rate Webster-Roy's term in office Duke said, “Out of ten, it’s reasonable for me to give her two marks. One for being true to the PNM and a second one for beating the table in Parliament whenever the PNM speak...
“We believe people need to be served and require a certain level of participation in their affairs. The PNM has shut the people out in the darkness and they have bullied them for many years.”
Duke accused his Tobago East rival of neglecting her constituents.
“They have deceived them with treats and tricks and all of that is about to be placed behind them when they go before the polls. Ayanna is a leader of deception. She has not represented the people of Tobago East in accordance with their will. Where was she when there was no boat, when there was one plane, when the government tried to build Sandals on a protected site and where was she when they wanted to put an airport without consultation?”
Duke said Webster-Roy has also failed the women of Tobago East.
“She has even done a poor job in gender affairs, since there are no women shelters to help those who are being abused. She can no longer represent Tobago East much less any part of TT. She is fit for an office job with paper to sign.”
On Sunday after the PNM screening, PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine predicted a “resounding victory” for its Tobago East and West candidates. However, Duke dismissed Davidson-Celestine's assertion as "out-of-turn."
He said, “Davidson-Celestine isn’t even back from holidays yet. To me, her mind is still in Costa Rica (as former TT ambassador). She has not acclimatise to what is happening in Tobago East. Therefore, she is speaking out-of-turn and ill-informed. She has no constituency. I wish she would go for the East to get a good flogging.”
Duke said the PNM leader would have made a better opponent than Webster-Roy.
“I hoped to go up against Tracy, some real competition, but I don’t know why she doesn’t want to challenge me for an area she once had a stronghold over for years.”
He said he and PDP Tobago West candidate Tashia Burris were ready to represent Tobago.