National Transformation Alliance leader Gary Griffith has declined comment on UNC leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s call for unity of smaller parties with the UNC.
But Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) leader Phillip Alexander, Progressive Development Patriots (PDP) head Watson Duke and some ex-UNC MPs have all blanked Persad-Bissessar’s call.
This, on Monday following the call by Persad-Bissessar at last Sunday’s UNC Congress.
She called for disaffected politically-minded people to consider the UNC their home rather than feel the need to create multiple, small opposition forces. She called for members of “smaller parties” (sic) to “put aside egos and differences and “begin serious, respectful discussions” with UNC. She said UNC wants their time and expertise but warned she won’t tolerate abuse of UNC members.
Griffith said the NTA isn’t commenting on the issue “at this moment.”
Movement for National Development leader Garvin Nicholas said the MND has been steadily building on support received in the last local and general elections where it got more than 1,000 votes in the three Diego Martin seats.
He said, “We firmly believe we must unite and work together as a people. We’re aware different political parties come with different philosophies and policies and that finding synergies can be very difficult. We also understand if everyone goes off in their own direction, we’ll accomplish nothing.
Nicholas added: “We recognise that even in families there are disagreements, and strong families find a way to discuss and overcome differences or at least focus on the common objectives for the common good. If, and only if, there’s enough common ground that allows for the enactment of policies that bring safety, prosperity and good transparent governance, the MND will certainly be interested in discussing and charting a path forward.”
But Alexander firmly said Persad-Bissessar’s reference to “small parties” marginalised parties and, unless there were discussions as equals on what kind of arrangement could work in T&T’s best interests, “It’s ‘No thanks’ to the basis she offered.”
Alexander said because the UNC called for a union, it didn’t mean the UNC should automatically be in charge.
“It’s seven years since 2015, the UNC has changed, people’s needs have increased because of this PNM government and parties and leaders have grown to meet this need. It’s only fair any arrangement demands that all leaders must discuss who has the best ability to win elections,” he said.
He said the PEP is in “constant conversations with other parties and while UNC’s Tim Gopeesingh was his friend, their few talks went no further than “flirting with the idea of unity.”
Alexander said the UNC has work to do internally as it’s unattractive, Persad-Bissessar isn’t commanding respect, her time has passed and she needed to recognise.
“People want champions now. She knows she cannot go it alone– that’s why she made the call. But Mrs Persad-Bissessar in one speech has displayed how out of touch she is. She’s disrespectful and arrogant, and while she may be chaining up her few remaining followers with ‘small party’ talk, she knows and is afraid to tell them that a unification of what she calls the small parties will make the UNC irrelevant,” Alexander added in a post.
Duke told Guardian Media last Sunday: “The PDP cannot be considered a small party and to do so is to mistake our true identity.”
He added: “The PDP is as large as the PNM as we’ve defeated the PNM, which is the most powerful political organisation. We defeated them successfully to the point of wiping them off the island of Tobago.”
“Therefore, we will not join the UNC or join with PNM. We will enter national or parliamentary elections as a full organisation contesting all 41 seats.
Congress of the People interim chairman Lonsdale Williams said, “The COP is open to anyone who has T&T’s best interests at heart. But we’re having internal elections by mid year and the new executive should be the one making decisions on who COP talks to or not.”