BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Monday 29th March 2021)- Clinical psychologist, social scientist and political influencer to the People’s Labour Party, Dr. Sharon-Ann Gopaul-McNicol is on the record making public statements supporting Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris as the leader of the Team Unity coalition without party term limits as she addressed the misconception that taking turns at leadership is good for the three-party alliance.
“In understanding coalitions, you have to understand that there is no such thing as, ‘it is my turn.’ Leadership doesn’t work that way. I must tell you right now, that this approach is a misconception that seeks to resonate in people’s minds that if we are a three-party coalition, and one party got it this round, the next one is supposed to get it next round. This is not how it works.”
Gopaul-McNicol made such sentiments as the guest speaker at the National Convention of the Harris-led People’s Labour Party on Saturday (27th March 2021) at Ottley’s Playfield.
PLP is one of the three coalition partners of the present Team Unity government alongside the Concerned Citizen’s Movement (CCM) and the People’s Action Movement (PAM) of whom the public has been expecting to see a rotating leadership of their political partnership.
According to the Trinidadian born ally of Dr. Harris said, “The coalition survives on the strength of the leadership” and as such “there is in fact no such thing as another party’s turn.”
The presenter stopped short of saying how change should be made in a coalition when she said, “If the leadership is not up to the standard of what a nation needs to take it through, then the leader…”
She referred to power sharing in a coalition as thinking from “a selfish standpoint”, playing “political gymnastics” and having change that is not going to be better for St.Kitts and Nevis. At the same time, she sought to shore up Harris’ minority position in the three-party arrangement by asserting that “there is no such thing as a junior and senior party in a coalition. In a coalition, every single party is equal.”
Gopaul-McNicol’s statement has created a public discussion as some individuals view her remarks as giving Prime Minister Harris an opportunity to extend his leadership of the coalition and the country beyond a second term.
It has been a longstanding public debate and understanding that after two terms, the Team Unity coalition would pass on its leadership to another member party.
This publication notes that Deputy Prime Minister, and PAM Leader Shawn Richards declared in a public gathering in his hometown of Sandy Point in July 2020 that he intends to be not only the next prime minister of the country but the first prime minister from his community.
What is more, some Harris-loyalists have taken to social media to accuse the present CCM Leader and Nevis Premier, Mark Brantley, of having intentions of replacing Dr. Harris.
Founding chairman of the Harris’ PLP, Douglas Wattley and Former deputy prime minister and deputy leader of the PLP, Ambassador Sam Condor have both given their take on this subject matter following the PLP Convention .
Wattley said that the presentation of Dr. Gopaul-McNicol was just a manifestation of what was on the mind of PM Harris. He said that Harris wants to go on being prime minister and that his time and efforts have been devoted to finding ways to remain as prime minister.
“Tim has always manoeuvred the situation for him to be considered as prime minister. Her presentation tells me that that hasn’t changed,” Wattley said.
Wattley, a social commenter, claims that Harris would have secretly promised the deputy prime minister in the past that he (Harris) would serve as leader up to 2023 and then hand over to him (Richards) long before general elections are constitutionally due in 2025. It is his position that Harris has chosen to use psychologist Gopaul-McNicol as a voice of reason to rally his supporters while he is moving the goal post.
Additonally, Wattley also made the observation that while there had been no written agreement on the length of tenure of a leader, one of the founding tenets of the Team Unity was that the then Prime Minister had served too long and that Team Unity campaigned on the issue that two terms to a prime minister were enough. Wattley asked, “Have you not realised that the two terms talk is dead?”
Condor echoed the sentiments that Harris is not willing the relinquish power. Condor is of the opinion that Gopaul-McNicol has come to Harris’ defence because he has lost the trust of his colleagues and there is talk among them of what to do with him. Her role, Condor said, is to stem the discussion of what to do with him.
Condor said that Harris is on public record having made public statements that he will lead the coalition for two terms and that Deputy PM Richards will then take over and be the next leader of Team Unity and the country. “To back away from this is another new low Harris,” his former colleague said.
Additinally, Condor points out that Gopaul-McNicol’s role is to control the two parties in the coalition that have the required number of seats to form a government without Harris and his party.