PNC needs strong organization to get out all its voters, can Mr Trotman handle that?
Stabroek News
April 8, 2002

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Dear Editor,

Mr Alvin Jones (SN April 1, 2002) in reply to my letter (SN March 28, 2002) on the leadership question made a spirited defense of Mr Raphael Trotman's candidacy for the position of leader of the PNC Reform. I would like to continue this debate by addressing some points made by him and making a few additional points.

Mr Jones is correct when he stated. "The PNC/R can never hope to return to office without luring about 15,000 or so votes from the PPP/C"; but that is where his analysis stops being rational. The fact is PPP/C is supported mainly by Indians and the PNC/R by Africans and there is no culture of a significant "swing or crossover" vote in Guyana. Mr Hoyte with government resources behind him, in the late eighties and early nineties, invested heavily in this dream of a "massive crossover" vote, the 1992 elections spoke for itself - it was not sufficient to compensate for the apathy demonstrated by the traditional supporters. As Mr Winston Murray said in an interview after the elections, "the PNC lost the 1992 elections because the traditional support areas were neglected and its organisation was weak on Election Day" - clearly crossover votes by itself cannot win an election.

Not distracted, Mr Hoyte held on to this dream in the 1997 and the 2001 elections - the results were no different. As such I find it difficult to see how Mr Trotman, with the palpable inability to properly organize the party, in the present objective reality of Guyana can hope to achieve this. Of course, I took this argument to its logical conclusion using Mr Jones's theory that Mr Trotman would be more acceptable to the Indians. We however have no proof of this.

What is required, Mr Jones, is a full and complete rewrite of the Guyana Constitution with two main objectives in mind. Firstly to ensure we do away with the winner-take all system of government, and secondly guarantee the political neutrality of government appointed boards such as the Public Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission and the Police Service Commission. You would recall that "power sharing" was and still a widely debated issue in the nation, however, Mr Hoyte had made it clear that he does not "understand what is meant by power sharing". This of course meant that the PPP/C did not have to respond to this concept or explore methods realizing such a goal.

Even if we were to believe that Mr Trotman could achieve the impossible, and woo five per cent of the Indian votes in 2006, to what benefit will it be if the party's organisation is weak and it cannot run and sustain a proper election campaign to maintain the traditional votes. "We cannot be filling the bucket from the top while it is losing its contents from holes at the base". We cannot afford to have voter turnouts in our strongholds remaining as low as seventy per cent in some cases, it must go up to over ninety per cent. It must be clear that these tasks are for experienced leadership in the persons of people like Vincent Alexander, Robert Corbin, Deryck Bernard and Ivor Allen.

Mr Jones when speaking of Mr Trotman said, "the astuteness of a leader who is unselfish in his efforts. His modesty seems to be his only weakness, not his intellectual leadership and administrative skills". Well, I do not know on what grounds Mr Jones arrived at these conclusions, but these are the facts, as I know them; Mr Trotman has no proven track record in politics, is not a leader in his profession and never managed anything. But on becoming a member of the PNC/R in 1997 he declared that he intends to become its Leader - speaking of modesty.

Further Mr Jones, writing of the persons I mentioned, stated, "All of them were top PNC officials during those unforgiving times and are therefore tainted". Perhaps then the PNC/R party may not be the place for Mr Trotman if we are to accept Mr Jones's argument. Mr Trotman may do better to form his own party where he does not have to depend on "tainted individuals" to win an election and run the government.

Yours faithfully,

Naomi Hopkinson