LAST DAY FOR PENNY
Rowley moves to revoke senatorial appointment today
Ria Taitt Political Editor
Today is Pennelope Beckles’s last day in the Senate.
Beckles met with Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley and People’s National Movement (PNM) chairman Franklyn Khan for 15 minutes at Balisier House, Port of Spain, yesterday.
Sources said at that meeting Rowley informed Beckles he is going to revoke her appointment as senator. Rowley told her he was preparing for a general election and this was why he sees it necessary to make certain adjustments to the Senate.
Rowley also told Beckles that the call was his to make and if it succeeds he will get some credit and, if not, he will be held to account.
The PNM political leader, according to sources, stressed that his decision had nothing to do with the fact that Beckles had expressed an interest in contesting the party’s leadership, the revalidation date for which Rowley has advanced by one year to March 2014.
Rowley has repeatedly said he has no problem with any member contesting any position, including that of political leader.
In an effort to blunt any possible fallout, sources yesterday pointed out that Beckles retains an influential position on the party’s leadership as lady vice-chairman. However, in so far as her position in the Senate is concerned—Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate—someone else will be given an opportunity to do that job.
Beckles’s removal, sources pointed out, comes in the wake of what was perceived by many to be a major blunder in the Senate in October when the party failed to register a dissenting vote on the Municipal Amendment Bill, which introduced the system of Proportional Representation.
Sources said at the parliamentary caucuses there have been calls for the leader of the Opposition in the Senate to be more aggressive.
Former minister Camille Robinson-Regis is expected to be appointed a senator and leader of the Opposition in the Senate.
It is the second time Beckles would have had an appointment in the Senate revoked.
In the late 1990s, then opposition leader Patrick Manning revoked her appointment in the Senate.
Ironically, it was generally felt the reason for Manning’s action was because Beckles had supported Rowley in the PNM leadership battle of 1996. Rowley was unsuccessful in that campaign.
Manning again rejected Beckles in the lead-up to the 2010 general election, twice in her candidacies, firstly for the Arima constituency and then the La Horquetta/Talparo constituency.
Following the PNM defeat, it was Rowley who brought back Beckles in the Parliament when he became Opposition Leader in 2010, making her leader in the Senate.
Ironically, many of those now backing her, which sources say include Joan Yuille-Williams and Jerry Narace, were part of the Manning-led team which rejected her candidacy.
Apart from Beckles, Rowley is expected to make additional changes to the Senate.
At least one other senatorial appointment is expected to be revoked, but there was no confirmation yesterday on who that person was.
A senator is also expected to fill the vacancy left by Terrence Deyalsingh’s departure as he was elected St Joseph MP in last month’s by-election.
So the party is looking at a major shake-up resulting in three new appointments.
These changes will not be implemented until next Tuesday.
Sources said Rowley told Beckles he wanted to meet with her before taking any action. That meeting only took place yesterday because both Beckles and Rowley were overseas.
Rowley is expected to advise the President today, and to issue a statement about the changes which would take effect at next week’s sitting. So, Beckles, who is expected to attend today’s sitting, would say her farewells.