‘That is not their identity.
That is not their soul.
At least four of the People’s National Movement’s (PNM’s) MPs have blanked leadership challenger Pennelope Beckles-Robinson and have openly endorsed incumbent Keith Rowley. Nine other MPS remain mum. On Wednesday, Beckles-Robinson said she would lobby support among MPs for her team and said she was finalising a slate. But well before she spoke, PNM deputy leader Marlene McDonald came out in full support of Rowley. It was in McDonald’s constituency that Rowley first began campaigning.
McDonald, appointed deputy and whip by Rowley in 2010, told the T&T Guardian on Tuesday she was supporting him fully. She said: “I’m also supportive of Dr Rowley’s slate. He’s got an excellent track record and great expertise. I’ve seen someone who’s a hard worker and committed. There can be no doubt he’s running PNM well and has brought us to victory more than once.” On Thursday, the views of several other MPs were sought.
Port-of-Spain North MP Patricia McIntosh when asked about Beckles-Robinson’s lobby said: “Dr Rowley is our leader and I’ve worked closely with him for four years and find him to be a strong, no-nonsense person who’s fought corruption in and out of Parliament. He’s articulated a vision for where he wants to take T&T and he wields good control of the PNM.
“I haven’t worked closely with Ms Beckles but I know her and consider her a very fine woman. But I haven’t seen the mettle I’ve seen with Dr Rowley, so I’ve endorsed his leadership. I wouldn’t rebuff her and I’d welcome any approach but I’ve already publicly expressed support for Dr Rowley as leader.”
McIntosh added: “Ms Beckles is at a disadvantage, as she might talk the good talk but I’ve nothing tangible in terms of accomplishments in the political arena to go by. He’s a far more experienced politician and probably in time she’ll reach there.” La Brea MP Fitzgerald Jeffrey said: “I’m supporting the leader. Penny is a very nice person but at this point Dr Rowley is the best person to lead. I’m not saying too much lest Government capitalise on PNM’s election.”
St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh, who was elevated during Rowley’s tenure from Senator to MP, said: “I’m supporting Dr Rowley based on his revival of the PNM from 2010 to date and resuscitating many party organs. His attempts at constitution reform have also been sterling.
“I also support his track record in leading PNM to victory in three of four elections and his valiant attempts at holding the Government to account via his motions of no confidence resulting in ministers being fired. He’s also been cleared by the Integrity Commission and other fora on various matters. So he stands proud.” Laventille East MP Donna Cox, who lost the Women’s League chairmanship to Beckles in 2012, was unavailable on Thursday.
Diego Martin North East MP Colm Imbert said he’d comment after PNM’s March 14 Nomination Day, while his colleague, Diego Martin Central MP Amery Browne said: “We have two excellent candidates thus far and it’s a tribute to PNM’s strength we can have them offering themselves for leadership with an excellent incumbent in the form of Dr Rowley and excellent contender in the form of Ms Beckles. We’ll see what else transpires by Nomination Day.”
St Ann’s East MP Joanne Thomas said: “It’s an internal election and giving views publicly is causing a division internally, so I won’t state a choice. I support both. On election day I’ll act.” Pt Fortin MP Paula Gopee-Scoon declined comment. Arouca MP Alicia Hospedales wasn’t available. San Fernando East MP Patrick Manning, whom Beckles-Robinson said she would seek advice from, wasn’t available on Thursday.
Laventille West MP and incumbent Youth Officer (Male) Nileung Hypolite, who was blanked for that post on Rowley’s slate, declined to say who he’s supporting.
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