Alexander: Kamla was ‘damn right!’ – PEP, NDC support UNC in next general election

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Phillip Alexander –

“Kamla was damn right,” Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP) political leader Phillip Edward Alexander said of UNC Political Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s call for smaller political parties’ vision to align with the party and bring something to the table.

Persad-Bissessar made the comments while at one of the UNC’s cottage meetings last Monday and said it welcomed entities and individuals seeking to join forces to unseat the ruling PNM government.

Alexander’s statements also come after a possible disagreement between the UNC and National Transformation Alliance’s (NTA) political leader Gary Griffith over the role of smaller parties within a coalition.

Although Persad-Bissessar did not call names, she said the party’s supporters would not be disrespected by other parties or called sheep by those wishing to piggyback on the its support base and resources.

Kamla Persad-Bissessar –

In a statement on Saturday, the PEP said, during an extraordinary meeting, its executive and members voted to endorse Persad-Bissessar and to publicly support the UNC in the county’s next general elections.

The statement said it was the PEP’s position that the country would not do well under a third term of PNM rule. It added that as all other options – including going it alone or joining with other third parties – only helped the current administration, the party decided to use its resources and voice to help the UNC form the next government.

Elaborating on the party’s position during a phone call on Sunday with Newsday, Alexander said, “Outside of the PNM and UNC, there are other parties. There are different parties and parties of different sizes.

“There is no other political party in the country that has the size of membership, history of the PEP. None of them even have an elected leader. I have been elected as leader twice.”

He said the party fought the last general election fully and had 29 candidates then.

He said the PEP was not a smaller party like some. He described it as a real political party effecting change, nationally.

“Kamla Persad-Bissessar was damn right…when you look at a meeting with the NTA, COP (Congress of the People) and HOPE (Honesty Opportunity Performance Empowerment), those three parties used to be part of the COP,” he said.

Alexander said those parties splintered into smaller ones and called themselves political parties.

“You cannot call yourself a political party until you are able to contest a national election,” he said.

He said a party must be able to contest national elections and be able to win and form a government with sufficient numbers and resources.

Alexander said some were trying to take advantage of what they thought was political desperation because Persad-Bissessar did not want to lose a third general election and should not have to do so.

He said he was going to make sure she did not.

He said that was why PEP decided to endorse the UNC without expecting anything in return.

“We are going to show what it means to put your resources to work and your voice to make a difference.

“That is where the politics needs to go. Because there is too much bacchanal and old noise and in-fighting, and not enough talk on issues.”

Alexander called for debates by political leaders so people would be able to ascertain who should be considered as national political parties and narrow the conversation down to that.

Similarly, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) also issued a statement on Friday, saying it supported the UNC as the parent body in a political coalition and would be honoured to be a part of such.

It said at an executive meeting last Tuesday, it decided that it stood firm on the concept of national unity.

It added that it also stood resolute in forming an alliance with other parties that agreed on a “sound coalition of political parties” and co-operated and worked in harmony to ensure a better TT.

NDC said it also proposed for business and labour to be a part of the next elected government and for mutual respect to be shown by all political parties in the coalition despite size, numerically.

The statement said proportional representation should be the premise on which cabinet positions were given.