AN optimistic Gary Griffith, political leader of the National Transformation Alliance (NTA), mounted a United National Congress (UNC) platform in Tarouba on Saturday night, assuring the party it can capture the San Fernando City Corporation (SFCC) and win the local government elections.
Griffith, who has formed an accommodation with the UNC to contest the August 14 elections, is not fielding any candidates in the SFCC.
However, he took part in a walkabout before the community meeting at the Tarouba Recreation Grounds to drum up support for the UNC, which won three seats in the last election.
The UNC is looking to improve its showing in 2023, despite one of its former councillors, Marcus Girdharrie, defecting to the People’s National Movement (PNM) and contesting the same seat for the ruling party on August 14.
Griffith said from his walks in Diego Martin, San Juan/Laventille, Tunapuna/Piarco, Arima, Point Fortin, the hills in Paramin, Cocorite and Sea Lots, people are disillusioned. He said those previously sitting on the fence are willing to give the UNC/NTA combination a chance.
“Every place I walk that was previously seen as PNM territory, they have said they have never seen the political leader of the PNM there. Everywhere that I have gone, they have stated that enough is enough. They just want to get rid of them (PNM).
“So that third constituency is there.”
He said San Fernando is one of two corporations that can turn these elections around. The PNM and the UNC each won seven of the 14 corporations in the last elections.
“If we do this right, you all can win San Fernando.”
Employing his military training, Griffith advised the party to use a strategic and very tactical approach, painting a picture of a possible outcome.
“You win San Fernando, it then goes to 8/6 and the PNM would have lost this election. It goes with this thing about this third party.”
He classified the “third party” as former political accommodations, including the ONR, NAR, COP and NTA, which were always opposed to the ruling party or the Opposition.
“In ten years, it might be the ABC or XYZ. There is always going to be that third constituency who may not be so inclined to be PNM or UNC.”
He showed a steady climb in the number of voters who constituted the third party, from the 91,000 votes the ONR was able to capture in 1981 to 127,000 in 1991 under the NAR banner and 147,000 in 2007 with the COP.
He called on the UNC to find some of those voters, who may have now grown to approximately 170,000, and influence them to cast their votes for the accommodation.
“This is something that is winnable,” he said, considering the UNC lost seats in 2019 by a mere 36 and 80 votes.
“Work with us, work with the NTA. We have that 700-odd votes in every single seat...all you all have to do is find them.
“The local government election is critical. It is critical for us to win this. We win this, it is going to be the beginning of the end for the PNM. So let us work together.”
Once there is victory in San Fernando, Griffith pledged to work with the UNC to make the city as safe and secure as possible.
The former top cop urged everyone present "to go out there, find those persons who were in that third constituency, influence them, tell them that they would be represented.
“A vote for you is a vote for Gary Griffith, and if it is that you vote, we are going to support you. We work together as a team, we will have the best government this country has ever seen.”