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A force to be reckoned with?

Published: 
Wednesday, July 8, 2015
TONY FRASER

It seems clear that the formation of the Third Force is a strategic manoeuvre by the United National Congress in conjunction with a few former members of the Congress of the People to be its new coalition partner along the East-West Corridor. 

The initiative of the UNC with the enthusiastic support of the former COP members is a recognition that the COP is dead or in a state of political unconsciousness. To compound the political stasis, COP’s executive members including its political leader are probably being perceived as being “fast and out of place” to be talking about selecting 41 candidates to bargain with the UNC for prized places on the combined slate of the parties.

The political figures and parties who have so far appeared on the forum of the Third Force are not persons who can command large numbers of electoral votes on their own; so for them to be able to be assured of the UNC support that exist along the Corridor and that which they may muster for themselves, would be a benefit. 

It is therefore a mutual back-scratching exercise. In theory, the Third Force would be of the view that its candidates would muster support at the western end of E/W Corridor and thereby pull off a coup on the Peoples National Movement especially in the Diego Martin constituencies which the PNM candidates Rowley and Imbert won by margins of a few hundred votes in the 2010 poll.

As to how a UNC majority party in government would treat with a Third Force, if they were to combine in a winning electoral coalition, the experience of the UNC dealing with the COP over the last five years would be instructive. The rule which guides UNC electoral coalitions was set down by UNC founder and political leader, Basdeo Panday. After feeling that the party and the tribe had been abused by ANR Robinson in the National Alliance for Reconstruction, Panday made it known that in any future alliances, any political love-making would have to take place on a UNC bed.

I found intriguing the picture of Timothy Hamel-Smith and Gerald Yet Ming conspicuously present at a UNC meeting a couple weeks ago. When the announcement of the formation of the Third Force was made, the political association between Yet Ming and Hamel-Smith and the UNC became evident. Indeed, the naming of the party as the Third Force leaves little doubt of how the party insiders see the gathering of individuals: it is the third force outside of the UNC and the PNM, all else being political driftwood.

It is unbelievable the basis upon which the Third Force wants to entice the electorate: to implement a programme of campaign finance reform; the establishment of Procurement legislation and majority rule.

Here are former members of the COP who had been senior members of their party and the coalition government for the better part of the last five years now rehashing manifesto proposals they made in 2010 when they promised to implement them as measures to curb and eliminate corruption in government and the campaigning for the 2015 general election. 

That achieving those objectives remains the high-priority agenda items of the 2015 campaign is an acknowledgement of having failed between2010-2015 to achieve the goal. However, Hamel-Smith and company with amazing contempt for the intelligence of the electorate did not bother themselves to give an explanation to as to why the objectives were not achieved over the last five years. 

That situation is compounded by the fact that the Third Force will undoubtedly be seeking office with its previous coalition partner, the UNC, the party which has demonstrated absolutely no interest in campaign finance reform and made sure that the procurement legislation would not be implementable before this election campaign. 

What will make the UNC as the dominating force in a re-elected coalition quickly and effectively implement the procurement legislation and develop legislation and rules to govern campaign financing? And what will give those in charge of the Third Force any more gumption and power to have the measures implemented if elected to office?

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