Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar has faced some stinging criticism relative to her declaration at the UNC’s National Assembly that the UNC can win the next general election on its own and without a coalition. A few points are perhaps worthy of consideration here.
The first, is that media reports, opinions from political commentators and social media discussion have unfortunately and unreasonably concluded that her announcement was a carefully strategized response to a reported motion that had been tabled at the Assembly on the issue of unity. But the Assembly speech was not the first occasion that Mrs. Bissessar had spoken on what she perceives to be the party’s singular appeal.
In fact, the tone and tenor of many of her speeches in recent time have reflected on her trust and faith in her party’s political strength and muscular determination. On March 12th 2018 she was confident in declaring at a UNC Monday Night forum at St Joseph that the UNC can win alone. She said then that, “don’t get carried away by the narrative that we must do ‘this’ and I think in a way it’s a kind of contempt for themselves in the UNC that they do not have the confidence that together we can do it, we can do it and we will win”.
Again in December 2018, addressing the party’s “End of Year celebration” she expressed confidence that the UNC can win alone by “evolving and ushering in a new generation of young people guided by sound political experience.” Given her consistent articulation on this matter, it appears politically illogical to suggest that her latest declaration was an intentional effort with premeditated motives.
It is also puzzling that a political leader’s confident and buoyant assertion of her party’s own ability can be manipulated and propagandized in the manner that this has. What would been the response if Mrs. Bissessar had declared the UNC to be fragile, ailing and in need of external political props to ensure its survival? How would the very Opposition MPs, some of whom have developed a skilful proclivity towards discussing party matters in public, have reacted to their leader throwing the political towel into the ring? Would that have been deemed “a gift” to the PNM?
Mrs. Bisssesar was also crystal clear in articulating that, “there was a difference between unity and coalition”. Her call was simple, “anyone in Trinidad and Tobago, come home, come home…we will fight together”. How can any rational mind interpret that as being contrary to the political dictates of national unity?
Surely Mrs. Bissessar is aware of the herculean task that lies ahead. Surely, she is aware of the need to embrace not only new and fresh political faces, but also novel and innovative strategies. Surely, she knows of the need to engage approaches and policies that are politically appealing and attractive. And surely she knows that the UNC’s political currency would be highly devalued if the party does not seek to meaningfully reimage and rebrand in order to revitalise. For now, she seems unfazed by her critics many of whom are politicians who have either retired or been fired, armchair detractors whose consistent and persistent suspicion provides nothing to cheer about and those who seemingly sit and wait restlessly in the political wings hoping aimlessly to take flight.