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Fear, threats stopping party support

Penny knocks ‘intimidation’ over leadership challenge:

By By Irene Medina Associate Editor

Aspiring People’s National Move­ment (PNM) leader Pen­ne­lope Beckles-Robinson attributes her inability to attract some of the more prominent faces in the party to her election slate to pervasive fear in the party over the conduct of the party’s internal elections. 

“Well, I don’t know if I would say I was unable to attract some of the other prominent voices to join the team; what I would tell you is there is genuine fear. People are very intimated, some of the people are being threatened.

I asked and, yes, they are willing to support you but they are not willing to come forward,” she said yesterday. 

She told the Sunday Express: “Peo-

­ple are sending a message, asking, ‘Why are you running?’ This is a de­mocratic process and people need to walk the talk. If you speak democracy and you say people should determine who they want to lead, then why are you so upset that I am running?”

She was at the time on a walkabout at the Port of Spain Central Market in Sea Lots yesterday.

Beckles-Robinson has failed to field a full team of 15 members. Her 13-member team includes attorney Roger Boynes and former PNM Cabinet minister Danny Montano, along with some newcomers and for­mer local govern­ment represen­tatives. 

Asked where this “intimidation” was coming from, Beckles-Robinson pointed to comments made by PNM deputy political leader Marlene McDonald, at a meeting in Laventille West last week. 

“Isn’t that intimidation? Isn’t that literally threatening people? Isn’t it saying that I shouldn’t run? Why shouldn’t I run? The party is demo­cra­tic. It is 50 years old. We have had challenges under Mr Manning (former PNM prime minister), we have had challenges under Dr Eric Williams, so why should your campaign be that Penny should not run?”

She said her slate “brings new faces, new ideas” and is representative of the demographics of gender, race, religion and youth. 

She is advocating a politics of in­clu­sion, deeper participation and respect. 

“We are saying to the people, this is not the same old, same old, we are bringing something different. 

She said her campaign is going well, and while she did not want to be

“overly confident”, she realised one had to put in the work to get the results. 

Asked if she felt it was her time now, Beckles-Robinson said, “Yes I do.” 

I signed my papers (Friday). I said in 2010, at Balisier House, that at that point in time, I was supporting Dr Rowley, and if the opportunity ever came my way and I had the support, I will consider it.

“Therefore, it has come my way. It has come much earlier because elec­tions were not really due. The poli­ti­-

cal leader has made it very clear that

as the 2015 general election ap­proach­-

es, it is time for the members to

determine who they want to take them into the 2015 elections. And that’s the democratic process. To allow for the vibrant membership to participate in a process to determine who they believe could lead the party to a general elec­tion. I am happy to be a part of that,” Beckles-Robinson said.

Asked what she felt were some of the weaknesses of her political leader, Beckles-Robinson said, “Well, I am not about weakness, we do things differently. I focus on inclusion, participatory poli­tics and transformation of party because as we come to elections, we are seeing the difficulties of the list where the party has not upgraded the list and too many people are off the list.”

Following her walkabout, Beckles-Robinson went to the John John area where she listened to complaints from people in the area about their living conditions. Some were critical of the performance of MP for the area McDonald.

 
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