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The Sustainable United National Congress

By Suruj Rambachan

One of the most important outcomes of the internal elections of the UNC is the fact that it is demonstrating that it is a vibrant entity and sustainable. The energy with which the campaign has proceeded and the interest shown by both members and non-members alike attests to the view that the majority of the people in this country want the UNC to remain a major player in the politics and as well a vibrant opposition and an alternative government ready to take the reins of power in democratically held elections.

With two weeks to go to the election day, we are witnessing a surge of interest in the population and interestingly enough, even PNM activists abut more particularly the so called swing voters are expressing support for a keenly contested elections. Of course there are those who want to see the demise of the UNC and are hoping that there will be political carcasses rotting after Dec 5th. There are those who are actively promoting the end of Mrs Bissessar as Opposition Leader even if she wins the internal elections. There are those who are hoping for a level of acrimony so great that healing will be impossible.

Well I have bad news for these antagonists. In 2010, the divisions were even greater and yet due to political and interpersonal diplomacy and negotiations the party grew in strength and became the government shortly thereafter. I am confident that those who are contesting will rise once again and unite around the cause which they know is bigger than any one person and as a result we will have a united party in opposition and then a force to be reckoned with going into the next elections. What is important for us to examine is why certain people want the demise of the UNC. It is sociological, it is about whom it is perceived should hold on to power, it is about the old argument that the group that holds economic power should not hold political power. It is also about whether the people south of the Caroni should hold political power and if they happen to do what kind of role should they play.

Everything has been tried to defeat the UNC and to paint it as a partisan party. The label of being Hindu based and a Hindu cabal were two such labels. The reality is that the UNC of 2010/15 was a differently constructed UNC in that it was more diverse than even the PNM. The politics of today is not a politics of race and religion. It is a politics of issues and the capacity to govern. The perception of the people on which party can deal with the nation’s issues to their satisfaction as well as govern ethically and fairly will decide elections. This is part of the reason why the swing vote is so important.

The UNC will remain a sustainable and vibrant political force because it has had a history of struggling for the people and has demonstrated its capacity to deliver.

It has now begun the process of re-branding as a national party reflected in the composition of the slates for the internal elections. The people of this country are also seeing that the leadership is not afraid to confront the issues. For example the current ceiling on incomes to qualify for HDC houses. The ineptness of the PNM in government is also being looked at and commented upon including the people who voted for them. The country has stopped! People are losing jobs. The hospitals and health centers are without drugs. T excuse is that “it’s under review>’ the people are growing restless and this in less than three months in office. If the long term performance of a govt is judged by the first 100 days then the PNM gets a failing grade and the UNC for its time in opposition gets above a passing grade.

The UNC will have a most successful internal elections and will persevere and grow thereafter. Such is the soul and genre of the UNC.

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