Former UNC general election candidate for Diego Martin West Marsha Walker. –
UNC activist Marsha Walker has said the results of the local government elections showed both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar have been rejected as leaders.
Walker, who is still a party member, added that Persad-Bissessar and the rest of the UNC’s leadership continue to ignore this message from voters.
Last month’s elections ended in a 7-7 tie between the PNM and UNC. The voter turnout was 30.4 per cent. Approximately 1,078,651 people were eligible to vote.
Walker, who unsuccessfully contested a district in the PNM-controlled Diego Martin Borough Corporation, has been at odds with Persad-Bissessar and the party’s leadership about what the election results mean.
Persad-Bissessar boasted the results meant the UNC was on course to victory in the next general election, constitutionally due in 2025. She also boasted that the UNC and its coalition partner, the National Transformation Alliance (NTA), had made significant inroads into what were considered PNM electoral strongholds.
In a WhatsApp message to Newsday on Friday, Walker said, “Now it is time for us to admit that the country sent both PNM and UNC a message – We don’t want (Dr) Rowley, but we don’t want Kamla either.”
She added that for Persad-Bissessar to describe the lowest voter turnout in 43 years as a resounding victory for the UNC “tells me that she is wilfully being tone deaf to the electorate.”
Walker recalled the UNC’s “Don’t tote, vote” campaign slogan.
“We chanted it at every meeting. Our campaign was based on pulling citizens out to send Rowley a message.”
Walker said since the elections, no one in the UNC is listening to her concerns that the party does not understand the clear message that voters sent it last month.
“They are not listening to anything or anyone, because listening requires uncomfortable change.”
But Walker found a receptive audience in former People’s Partnership (PP) coalition government minister Devant Maharaj.
In a statement on Friday, Maharaj said, “In essence, both my earlier analysis and Marsha Walker’s present commentary underscore a pressing need for introspection within the UNC.”
Maharaj said this is critical if the party is to regain relevance and rebuild its image.
The UNC, he continued, must confront the issues raised by its own members and supporters over leadership transparency, internal democracy, and its overarching governance strategies.
“Neglecting these concerns could perpetuate the perception of a party ill-equipped to offer the dynamic leadership that Trinidad and Tobago’s political landscape demands.”
Maharaj said the UNC has become a party where “blind loyal and personal ambition supersedes competence.”
He added that while TT celebrates its 61st anniversary of independence, it should also mourn the fact that the PNM stands alone as its only true national political party.
“The UNC under Kamla Persad-Bissessar is now relegated as a deep south regional political entity driven by a cult of personality.”
After the swearing-in of aldermen at the Siparia Borough Corporation on Wednesday, Persad-Bissessar dismissed Walker’s calls for her to resign as UNC leader.
She also said Walker had never brought her concerns to her attention.