?The alliance of the opposition parties is on the road, even if it is not clear at this stage what exactly is being aimed at. It however seems to be a work in progress.
But surely the thousands of supporters and curious onlookers gathered at the historic Charlie King Junction in Fyzabad on Wednesday night, would be prepared to invest new trust and fall in love once again with the political amalgam that is taking shape. On the specifics of what has been struck, the People's Partnership, which the parties describe as being a partnership for sustainable good governance in T&T, was signed, giving a general feel of what is being attempted.�Essentially the statement commits the parties to "pool their considerable resources in the national interest at this critical juncture in the history of Trinidad and Tobago." Significant too is the commitment to a "people-oriented and participatory government." Beyond the specifics of a commitment to support UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar as the prime ministerial candidate of the alliance, the document is short on specifics. It provides only a general commitment to a common platform, a public policy programme, and mechanisms for achieving consensus in decision-making.
The expectation is that as the campaign proceeds, the electorate must be given more substance about the alliance and the concrete elements of its programme. Such details are absolutely necessary if electors are to commit themselves to placing their trust in this loose grouping to govern the country for a five-year period. The leaders must be fully aware that the same public that is turning out in its thousands to the grouping's public meetings will be most unforgiving if the leaders procrastinate in outlining in great detail their position on a wide range of public policy issues. Of particular interest to the public would be how Mrs Persad-Bissessar reconciles the positions taken by Errol McLeod and David Abdulah, the two senior, left-leaning labour leaders in the alliance, against the mainstream of economic and financial thought that unifies both major political parties. It is to be expected that these vocal and persuasive labour leaders would seek always to advance the interests of workers at the expense of the interests of the local private sector and the foreign multinationals that dominate this country's energy sector. It must be noted that the local and foreign private sectors generate about 90 per cent of T&T's taxes and are responsible for a significant percentage of the country's employment.
If the UNCOP forms the next government, can the public be assured that the two comrades in the bosom of what would be the ruling party will not adopt policies, rhetoric and ideological positions similar to that spouted by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the Castro brothers in Cuba, and Bolivia's Evo Morales? Of course, it is quite possible that the positions previously held by the labour leaders would soften with the passage of time, the collapse of most communist regimes in the world, the reality of globalisation, and the dominance of neo-liberal capitalism. But the discerning public deserves some clarity on the ideological and policy positions of these two men.
While the opposition parties work hard at reaching an accommodation no matter the difficulties along that road, the leaders must come clean on the ideological issue before too much longer. Like the West Indies cricket team on too many recent occasions, the leaders of this "dream team" of so many different interests would be running the risk of snatching defeat from the jaws of electoral victory if they choose to venture to the general election without addressing the ideological issue.