PRIME Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will want to set a contemplative yet confident tone today as she meets her UNC National Executive and then her party’s public officials – MPs, Senators and councillors.
Apart from rumours of an impending Cabinet reshuffle, the meeting is likely to discuss the results and fallout of the recent Chaguanas West bye-election, and looming local government elections due by October.
After its loss, and that of its coalition partner the TOP in the January Tobago polls, UNC members may well be daunted by the prospect of the local polls, and Persad- Bissessar, as UNC leader, must from today offer her best assurances to any wavering followers.
That may be easier said than done. In this land of the nine-day wonder, the flavour of the day is now re-elected MP Jack Warner, even as much of the public’s political imagination was also caught last Friday by the words of none other than President Anthony Carmona despite not being any Executive President.
The UNC, may decide to postpone the local polls or to bravely hold the polls and be prepared to accept some losses by allowing the electorate to “let off steam” now rather than later, that is at the 2015 general election. Knowing that it’s natural for a strong anti-Government vote at minor polls such bye elections and local government elections, but voters return to their political moorings when actually choosing a national Government, Persad-Bissessar may decide to go ahead next October when she may again have to say “you win some, you lose some,” in order to save the coalition for its 2015 fight.
So, should the PP accept back the ILP, or did Warner’s bye-election win merely prove his personal popularity but simply fail to overturn the original reason for his exclusion, that is, his poor image globally in light of the FIFA and Concacaf shenanigans?
After the exit of Warner and St Joseph MP Herbert Volney, if one more UNC MP should leave — such as Mayaro MP Winston “Gypsy” Peters — it would mean the UNC by itself will no longer have its own majority in the Lower House (having just 20 seats out of 41 seats) and to avoid being a minority government would be reliant on the COP’s six MPs.
However, Persad-Bissessar still has a very strong hand to play indeed.
The point that Persad-Bissessar must sell her troops is that the PP still holds a comfortable majority, ahead of an unsettled Opposition PNM that could well see a leadership challenge to Dr Keith Rowley.
Further, Persad-Bissessar must make the point that regarding Warner’s suitability for office, right is right and wrong is wrong, however the fickle tide of public opinion may ebb and flow from one week to another. Leadership isn’t easy, and many would like to say, “let this cup pass from me” but instead as a true leader must bite the bullet even in the tough times.