Many dream of unity. That dream as hopeless as it seems sometimes came to reality many times in our history. Almost every time it was destroyed by persons with personal or collective agendas.
In 1986 the National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) got around 66 per cent of the national vote (the first time the PNM had failed to win over 50 per cent since 1956).
The energy of unity and “one love” flowed through the country like a fresh breeze inspiring a nationwide clean-up campaign and hope. It was reported that infighting over government posts and economic policies split the party and some ministers defected after a single year in power. In 1988 former ULF leader Basdeo Panday was expelled, taking with him five other former ULF members to form the United National Congress.
That was the first failed attempt at unity.
The second successful attempt that led to hope was when the UNC won control of the government in 1995. First in coalition with the NAR and later in the 2000 general election, on its own. Again, personality conflicts and a lack of focus on country led to a split in the party and caused the UNC to lose its parliamentary majority and control of the government.
The third attempt was in May 2010, when the UNC returned to government as the majority party in the People’s Partnership and Kamla Persad-Bissessar, was sworn in as the first female Prime Minister of T&T. The hope was again ignited only to be put out by what many saw as greed and disorganisation.
These failures have left many jaded. Some no longer have the drive and energy to seek an alternative to a PNM government which is seen by some as well organised and the nation’s default party for stability. It is that apathy that must be replaced with hope again.
There is a need to learn from our past mistakes and to put structures in place to never return to disorganisation, selfishness, and lust for power.