Griffith: If no alliance, NTA fights UNC and PNM

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

NTA political leader Gary Griffith and UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar at a joint UNC/NTA political rally at SWWTU Hall, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, in July 2023. – File photo by Roger Jacob

NATIONAL Transformation Alliance (NTA) political leader Gary Griffith has told the UNC if it does not want to form a proper alliance with the NTA to contest the next general election against the PNM, the NTA will fight both parties across the board in all 41 constituencies.

He said in such a scenario, the NTA will direct the majority of its political resources into key marginal constituencies of which the PNM and UNC must win a majority to be elected to government in 2025.

Griffith made these statements via WhatsApp on May 28.

“It is hoped that good sense will prevail and whoever is in the (UNC) Natex after the 15th of June will have the political maturity to understand and appreciation political history. By this meant, he said, that in its 30-plus years the UNC has ‘never won an election on its own other than one occasion and that lasted a few months” and has never UNC won an election involving more than two parties,

The UNC only ever defeated the PNM on its own in the 2000 general election.

But a subsequent collapse of the then UNC administration,when MPs Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, Trevor Sudama and Ralph Maraj left the party, led to a snap general election in 2001.

That resulted in an 18-18 tie and then opposition leader Patrick Manning (deceased) being appointed prime minister by president Arthur NR Robinson (deceased).

The UNC lost the 2002 and 2007 general elections before forming the People’s Partnership (PP) coalition to win the May 24, 2010 general election. The PP lost the September 7, 2015 general election to the PNM.

Contesting the August 10, 2020 general election on its own, the UNC lost to the PNM.

Griffith warned that people who do not learn from history will be forced to repeat it.

He reiterated his belief that whoever forms the majority in the UNC internal elections on June 15 “will do what is right to get in government.”

While he was confident that, based on his 15-year working relationship with UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar, an alliance between their parties could be built on trust, Griffith has no idea of the UNC’s position on an alliance with the NTA.

“The political leader of the UNC has not spoken to me for the last three months. She has not communicated with me on any form of an alliance.”

The last time he heard her speak about the NTA, he said, “is when she was attacking us because she seemed to have forgotten the significant role that the NTA played in ensuring that the local government election had the success of 60,000 more votes than the PNM.”

He said his party did not only win 17,000 votes.

“The other 110 (local government) seats that the UNC took part in, I was asked and pleaded by the hierarchy of the UNC to walk the length and breadth of all the areas that UNC candidates had, especially in San Fernando, Sangre Grande, along the (East West) Corridor, to get the NTA voters to vote for the UNC candidates.”

Griffith hinted that some UNC members seemed to have forgotten this.

The NTA and UNC formed an alliance to contest last August’s local government elections, which ended in a 7-7 tie between the PNM and UNC.

Under their arrangement, the UNC contested 110 local government districts and the NTA contested the other 31.

The NTA did not win in any of the districts it contested.

After the elections, both parties hinted their alliance would continue into the 2025 general election.

In February, Griffith and Persad-Bissessar fell out over statements Persad-Bissessar made at a UNC public meeting about other parties taking advantage of the UNC’s resources but contributing nothing in return.

Griffith said there are other members of the current UNC natex who believe the party can win the next election on its own.

The NTA, Griffith continued, will not allow itself to be the victim of “domestic political violence” in an arrangement which sees the UNC contesting its strongholds and the marginals, but leaving the NTA to fight the PNM in 12-15 of its safe seats.

Any arrangement which sees UNC candidates benefiting from NTA votes, with no reciprocation, is unacceptable to Griffith.

Griffith, a former police commissioner, said he will not allow the NTA to be the minority partner in any coalition government or be part of any government which negotiates with criminal elements in any form or fashion.

As a former national security adviser to Persad-Bissessar and national security minister in the PP government, Griffith recalled instances of this due to what he said were decisions taken by people in the lower echelons of government ministries.

While he hoped the UNC’s new natex will see an alliance with the NTA, Griffith said, “If they…insist that they will go up for all of the seats, then the NTA will do what is required. We are not going to bow to pressure and just succumb to accept the PNM seats. We will go up for all the marginal seats as well.”

Griffith expected other political parties would do the same if they are not part of an alliance.

He reiterated, “We will put all our emphasis on Tunapuna. Barataria/San Juan, St Joseph, Lopinot/Bon Air, La Horquetta/Talparo, San Fernando West, Toco/Sangre Grande.”

Griffith was asked if the NTA would consider an alliance with the Patriotic Front party led by Mickela Panday, the daughter of UNC founder the late Basdeo Panday, failing an alliance with the UNC.

He said the PF had “already stated their case. They are going up for all 41 seats. They have a right to. They are a political party.”

Griffith reiterated that the only party the NTA has been trying to form an alliance with is the UNC, and its future hinges on the outcome of the UNC internal elections.

“Come the 16th of June, we will know what is to be done.”