Peter Kanhai

Gail Alexander

The Opposition UNC sid it has taken note of a NACTA poll where respondents feel the UNC is “unelectable” in its present state and changes at leadership level are needed.

The party’s election for the leadership and a new National Executive will be “soon”.

UNC chairman Peter Kanhai confirmed this yesterday as he addressed the NACTA poll as well complaints against the leadership from detractors seeking to transform the party.

The NACTA (The North American Teachers Association) gathered opinions on the current state and future of UNC since the beginning of September.

Of 702 respondents queried at random, only 2 per cent felt the UNC can win an election again. Some 88 per cent said UNC leader Kamla Persad- Bissessar has served her time and should hang up her political boots, oversee the election of new leadership, and play the role of elder stateswoman, advising her successor.

Findings are that the population generally feels the UNC cannot win an election again unless there are serious internal reforms, new leadership and accommodative politics with other groups.

Findings were:

UNC supporters say in its present state, the UNC is ‘unelectable’.

Supporters praised Persad-Bissessar for her role in taking the UNC into government but they said that having lost two consecutive general elections, it’s best for party and country that she “hang up her political gloves.”

Supporters felt UNC made too many mistakes in the last election.

The population at large doesn’t think Persad-Bissessar can lead the party into government again. Supporters of the party and others at large overwhelmingly feel she should take steps to transition the party for new leadership and she should play the role of an elder stateswoman.

“Supporters also felt the party is in serious crisis with deep internal division, that party structure verge on political nepotism and friendship bent on retaining internal party position and power rather than winning government.

Party volunteers, workers, and supporters are de-motivated and expressing views of exasperation and disappointment over election defeat after defeat. Many are hopeless about UNC’s future unless there is change and don’t believe UNC can give the PNM a serious challenge again as presently constituted. They feel that unless transformed, it will lose seats next election.

Kanhai stated, “As with any other poll the party takes note of what the NACTA findings are. Any poll represents a snapshot in a particular time.”

On views in the poll calling for a change of leadership, he added, “It’s already been announced that the party has a process whereby the leadership is chosen and that process will take place soon.”

“All contenders who are members are free to put their names forward to contend for any post whether leadership or National Executive posts.”

“The political leader has already stated her intention to contest. Every member is free to put themselves forward and registered members will exercise their right to choose.”

Kanhai declined to give a date for the election. Guardian Media understands from other UNC quarters that the internal poll will be held before year-end, likely later after the October Budget debate month is concluded.

Asked about the billboards being erected by detractors such as the UNC’s Devant Maharaj and resignations of constituency executive members (such as San Juan’s Susan Charles), Kanhai said, “We expect that with the internal election due soon, different and opposing forces will be engaged in their version of campaigning as they see fit.”

Following the setting up of an Independence Square billboard against the leadership, some loyalists have hit back, urging members to speak out against it in mainstream and social media. One Persad-Bissessar devotee said, “Them fellas (Maharaj, others) getting licks.”