November 29, 2021

Secret recordings allegedly being used for political blackmail

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From TCI Noswald-skippingsews Now

The Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA), a recently formed political party in the TCI led by political veteran Oswald Skippings, is alleged to be secretly recording conversations and meetings with prospective party members in order to secure loyalty to the new party on the part of former opposition Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) members who confide in any PDA member about their political views.

The purpose of the recordings is said to be for future airing and exposure to the public if the new members do not follow through with their support for the PDA.

The party, which was officially formed in October according to records at the Integrity Commission, has been in the making for quite some time since Skippings went on his own and declared his non-support for the PDM, of which he is a former leader.

Though small, the party has been gathering support from former PDM members and Skippings loyalists who feel that Skippings was unfairly removed as party leader after he did not win a seat in the 2012 parliamentary elections.

Former premier Michael Misick, who reportedly prodded Skippings into the move, backs the party along with two expatriate hotel owners, who also want to see the minimum wage abolished. The PDA’s other financial backers are some of the same individuals who stood Misick’s $10 million bail following his extradition from Brazil to the TCI early last year.

Some political observers claim that the motive behind former premier’s support is to help split the PDM votes, thus securing a win for his Progressive National Party (PNP) at the next general elections, leading to an eventual call for independence from Britain that he believes would free him from his corruption charges.

“Skippings’ supporters have been duped into believing they have the genuine support of Misick. They believe that they have Misick’s backing, which will catapult them to power,” said one local source.

Ironically, it was a recording device secretly used on Skippings that led to the suspension of the TCI constitution by Britain and brought about the direct rule interim government of 1986-1988. This recording captured damning remarks by Skippings directed against his political opponents at the time of Caicos origin.

These same remarks were brought up again by Misick’s PNP in 2012 and used as a campaign tool against Skippings in the general election in a door-to-door campaign by the PNP. Skippings was an at-large candidate and needed to place fifth or better in the poll in order to secure a parliamentary seat but placed eighth out of a field of ten, thus not securing a seat, and at the same time being beaten by his now PDA deputy Samuel Harvey

The remarks made by Skippings on that secret recording were very controversial and divisive and have been used successfully by Misick and others over the years to paint the PDM as an anti-Caicos party. Skippings has never apologized to the PDM Caicos Islands members for such inflammatory remarks directed at them but has since further attacked Caicos voters with the claim that it was the voters in the Caicos Islands that did not bring him a victory at the last election.

However, the results show that, on a percentage point basis, if Skippings had done as well with Grand Turk and Salt Cay voters, which are supposed to be his base, as he did with voters in the Caicos Islands, he would have easily won an at-large seat in the 2012 general election.

Having been politically stung by secret recordings from the 1980s, Skippings has now apparently embraced the devious practice to gather damning commentary that will have a bombshell effect during the upcoming general election campaign, according to sources close to him.

He has been selectively targeting key members and supporters of the PDM and PNP and other persons he suspects to be potential candidates to bait them into talking negatively about their party colleagues while these unsuspecting victims have no knowledge that the PDA leader is secretly recording them.

Most PDM members have steered clear of Skippings and see his PDA as a suicide mission to bring a defeat at the polls of the PDM. Other members have likened the cause of the PDA to that of 1970s cult leader Jim Jones who took his members into the Guyana jungle and persuaded them to drink lethal poison.

“The PDM may want to rethink their do not touch approach, hoping that Skippings will come to his senses and return to the fold. Meanwhile, PNP members are openly supporting his actions, praying that he goes through with his revenge laden campaign against the PDM in order to help the PNP secure victory at the next polls,” the local source said.

Many people on the ground in TCI feel that general elections are likely to be called early in the New Year, although they are not constitutionally due until late 2016.

IMAGE: Oswald Skippings

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