Last update: 06-Dec-2013 6:40 pm
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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UNC must take stock or suffer defeat in 2015
The victory by the People’s National Movement (PNM) in yesterday’s St Joseph by-election is a warning that the United National Congress (UNC) needs to wake up and take stock, otherwise it would again suffer defeat in the 2015 general election, economist Indera Sagewan-Ali warned. She made the comment during a TV6 panel discussion on the election last night in the wake of Terrence Deyalsingh’s victory. Speaking on a panel which also comprised former government senator Mary King and political analyst Dr Winford James, Sagewan-Ali said the root of the UNC’s defeat would ultimately be blamed on the splitting of votes, as previously warned by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar. However, she said the loss of St Joseph painted a much larger picture. “I don’t know if you can move from a position of such strong arrogance—to say, ‘I told you so, don’t split the votes’—to coming to terms with the reality,” she said.
Sagewan-Ali said the Government should be looking ahead to the general election due in the next 18 months and now needs to take stock. “If they do not take stock they are accepting defeat, because that will surely come, as night will turn into day,” Sagewan-Ali said, adding this defeat could also signal to Persad-Bissessar the need to “pull out a new deck of cards” for the 2015 general election. Earlier in the programme, James was asked to comment on the possibility of Alleyne being selected as a candidate. He responded: “We have gone back to the marginality that constituted the kind of voting that we did, that it didn’t matter that it was Ian or anybody else. “Think of the notion of the crapaud, and if you go back to ethnic voting, Ian Alleyne turned out to be a crapaud.” James also chastised the UNC for using information in a privileged way on a political platform, adding that this was the downfall of the party. “We are talking about attacks, using information against people in a privileged kind of way; we are talking about plain nastiness that we have seen on the campaign...I mean you can’t find it worse than on a UNC platform,” James said.
On examining voting trends, James said the People’s Partnership got into power because those who voted for the PP wanted a change from the “bad practices of the PNM.” Sagewan-Ali, who echoed his sentiments, said the quality of the campaigning has degenerated to a large extent. “When you think that it cannot get worse, it actually can, and that’s a worrying thing,” Sagewan-Ali added. Alleyne, King said, was not honest and the people saw through this and hence, they voted against him. “The (UNC) could have chosen a candidate that could have been more credible,” she added. On another panel on I95.5FM, Dr Sheila Rampersad suggested that the UNC did much better than expected in part through the party’s don’t split vote campaign and TV ad, in which Alleyne appealed to the people. Rampersad said within the last week and a half the UNC’s campaign had picked up and could not have been underestimated. She said after the local government elections the party’s strategy focussed on appealing to the public to not split the vote. She said while this strategy was not new, as it was done in 2007, what was different this time around was that it was a public campaign. The ad campaign, which focussed on the ILP helping the PNM to victory in the October 21 local government elections by splitting the votes, drew the ire of the PNM leader Dr Keith Rowley, who threatened to take legal action against the media houses who ran the print and TV ads.
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