Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Opposition Unity … Unachievable Fact or Achievable Fiction?

There is a lot of talk going around about all the “work” that certain committees of both the UNC and the COP are doing to work towards a unity that will be real and lasting. Persons are calling for Mr. Dookeran to meet with Mrs. Persad-Bissessar quickly so that a united front can be presented for the looming Local Government elections which are due by September of this year (unless postponed again … but that is another story!).

Speaking for myself only, I am more than a little fed-up with the nonsense that is emanating especially from the COP camp on this subject of opposition unity. You see, I believe that if you ever want to understand a problem you should go back to basics. Now, if two (or more) political parties want to consider uniting the obvious questions are: what are our differences in terms of policies and philosophies? What are the policies and philosophies upon which we agree? On what issues are we prepared to compromise our values and beliefs in terms of the differences in our policies and philosophies and why would we want to compromise them?

Sort of obvious when you put it down like that, eh? But have you heard any COP or UNC leader talk about this? No! Why not? Answer: Because the truth is that there are no fundamental policies or philosophical differences between the UNC and the COP. None whatsoever! Or, if there are, they are so small that they could easily be resolved. No. The problem of achieving unity between the two political parties has nothing to do with ideology, but everything to do with jobs and positions. In other words, the ‘big’ boys realise that if they do have unity then a lot of them will have to give way and step down from the positions that they now enjoy. Mr. X will no longer be a deputy political leader, Mr. Y will no longer be a chairman, Mrs. Z will no longer … well, you get the point.

The problem is that there is a large segment of the population that is fundamentally opposed to the PNM and would like to see change. Some people feel more comfortable with the COP leaders being in charge and others with the UNC leadership holding the reins. The problem that the COP supporters have is that there aren’t enough of them in any one constituency to win a seat. The problem that the UNC has is that if they could get at least fifty percent of the COP supporters to vote for them (with the remaining COP supporters either staying home or voting for the COP) then the UNC would be assured of a victory at the polls. Unfortunately for the COP there are quite a few COP supporters who will vote for the PNM before they would vote for an enlarged UNC that absorbed the COP. Following on Kamla’s January trouncing of Mr. Panday in the UNC internal elections a fairly large segment of the COP support pealed off and “returned home” to the UNC. So, the COP has the problem of convincing their UNC counterparts that the remaining rump of their supporters will follow them “to the gates of hell” if necessary, and that these supporters are indeed numerous enough to make the difference between defeat or victory.

The UNC needs to approach the proffered chalice of potential unity with a great deal of caution. Frankly, if I was advising Kamla, I would tell her to run at least two different polls very quietly amongst the COP supporters to find out exactly how much COP support has indeed come over to the UNC, how much remains, how much will stay if some sort of accommodation is reached, what exactly are the issues that concern the COP supporters, and who in the COP is worth my while to keep and who should I discard. Why would I advise that at least two polls be run? Because when I get the results from the first poll I would immediately verify it with a second using a different team. If the results are the same, then I would know that I have a fairly accurate reading. If they are different then clearly somebody somewhere has made a mistake.

And why would I keep it quiet? Come on! You really don’t need me to answer that, do you?

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