I PAID close attention to the entry of Jack Warner, back into the UNC political fold.
As he was welcomed with open arms, to jubilant cheers from the party faithful, it was apparent that all previous transgressions were forgiven.
Recall, it was Jack Warner who took credit for the collapse of the UNC government in 2015, effectively saying, “I put you there, I can remove you”.
It was Mr Warner who presented cheques, claiming FIFA funds financed the UNC, alleged immorality and impropriety and formed his own political party, that beat the UNC by a landslide in their stronghold constituency of Chaguanas West.
Others who occupied the corridors of government with the UNC, joined Mr Warner in his condemnation, such as Fuad Khan, Devant Maharaj, the late Herbert Volney and Ramona Ramdial, to name a few.
However, Mr Warner comes with serious baggage, he is wanted in the US on charges related to his FIFA tenure. He is currently fighting extradition to the US and more importantly, his exploits are well known in the international community.
What would make Mrs Persad-Bissessar take such a gamble, especially given the fact that UNC must shake the negative image of corruption and mismanagement, if it is to ever return to office.
From my perspective, Mrs Persad-Bissessar has calculated that the potential benefits outweigh the risks. The reputational risk of including Mr Warner in her campaign is enormous. There is a large segment of this population, especially the undecided middle ground, who effectively determine the outcome of elections.
They have clearly demonstrated a loss of confidence in the UNC because of the problems during their tenure. Associating with Mr Warner once more, who the court of public opinion, locally and internationally, has negatively judged, will do little to regain this confidence.
In fact, it may even push this group further away from the UNC and cement the perception of immorality in public office.
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It seems that Mrs Persad-Bissessar is willing to accept that risk for the potential reward that Mr Warner may be able to win her additional votes and by extension, an election.
She is also banking on the population, especially those not motivated by sycophancy, to forget or ignore the misgivings of Mr Warner.
This is a tough decision and big gamble which may also be a sign of desperation to win at all costs and ignore the potential pitfalls.
The other issue which the UNC must grapple with is, what does the return to the old guard of the likes of Mr Warner, Gary Griffith and potentially Fuad Khan, mean for the current leadership of the party. I am speaking of the newer faces of the party which formed the frontline for the last eight years. Does this mean the leader has lost confidence in them to steer the ship to victory?
With egos such as Jack Warner and Gary Griffith’s on board, to what extent will they be able to influence decision making? What is their current and future role in the party and elections going forward? As I ponder these questions, I can’t help but compare the UNC’s circumstance with that of the PNM, which, by the own admission of its Political Leader, Dr Rowley, is in transition.
Recently, a new team was elected to lead the party with an eye on succession planning, thus, securing the future of the party. The PNM seems to be moving forward with its new team and in the process is continuing to attract young persons, some of which were former UNC members.
I make this point to contrast the fact that while the UNC appears to be taking backward steps, returning to the old guard and not allowing its younger cadre of leaders to take the reins, the PNM is embracing this concept. The UNC, through Mrs Persad Bissessar appears to be willing to make some huge gambles and take major risks in its effort to unseat the PNM from government. Often, the big risks are taken when the circumstances seem more daunting, because greater rewards are required.
In my opinion the inclusion of Mr Warner especially, in the current campaign is a huge risk with potential to backfire on many levels. It certainly tells the population that the UNC is not willing to learn from and correct the mistakes of the past. The population will ask themselves, what will a UNC in government look like with the potential of Mr Warner holding a high level position again? What of our international image and reputation?
In my view, Mrs Persad-Bissessar has calculated that desperate times calls for desperate measures. Only time will tell whether the risk outweighs the rewards.