Reply to 101: Learning Lessons

| 05/06/2012

101 is eager to ridicule our two political parties, to say there is nothing to choosebetween them and to throw both in the bin. I do not think 101 can be faulted for wanting to get rid of UDP government.  It is clear to all of us that the UDP offers one thing only – Bush rule.  We have all seen Bush rule in action, and there is no reason to think that it would improve if Bush were re-elected as premier.

On top of his failings as a ruler and the question whether we want a ruler or a government, there are strong suspicions of large-scale corruption, made worse by his explanation of the Thomas affair.  So it would indeed be a grim day for the Cayman Islands if voters chose four more years of Bush rule.

On the other hand 101’s suggestion that a PPM government would be no better than Bush rule is facile and unworthy – if this is meant to be a realistic assessment of the situation.  The explanation may be that the Viewpoint is really propaganda for an independent candidate. 

In order to slam the PPM government of 2005-09, 101 repeats the UDP propaganda about financial mismanagement. This was the propaganda that won the election for Bush and his team in 2009. But I suspect 101 understands that the truth is not so simple.  And I hope 101 recognises that it is important for the country’s future that the truth be understood and the lessons of the financial crisis learned.

The PPM government was elected in 2005 on a manifesto that made plain that it would give first priority to the country’s education system. Our existing system was suffering from neglect, it was inadequate and over-stretched, and this was having very serious long-term effects. The government set out to overhaul the system, change attitudes to education and provide the best facilities that the country could afford. Thus far I do not think anyone would fault the government.

The mistake was in not making their own assessment of what the country could afford.  The financial secretary gave the project his thumbs-up and there was no reason to doubt his assessment. Under the Constitution (then) it was the financial secretary’s responsibility to make the assessment, and hehad the data and the expertise to make it.  We still do not have reliable figures but we do know that the financial secretary made a radical reassessment after the 2009 election.  And from his explanation to the LA it emerged that he had a very restrictive view of what his responsibility entailed. He just passed on figures given to him by others.

It does not matter now whether the FS was wrong about his responsibility. I am not talking about blame but about the lessons the financial crisis teaches us. One of the most important lessons is that in future the elected government must ensure that large projects are undertaken only with a reliable assessment of affordability – and of feasibility, cost, impact and benefit. Those who make the assessments and advise on financing must take responsibility for what they say; and the elected government must satisfy itself that the assessments and advice have been given properly and carefully, with due regard for margins of error. 

I am not suggesting that the elected government should ignore what the civil servants are saying. Far from it. We have seen in recent years the mess that is created by a premier who thinks he knows best on all subjects.

This is only one of the lessons that the financial crisis should have taught us.  Another, underlined by the Miller/Shaw report, is the absolute necessity of bringing the operating costs of government under effective oversight and control. This was the responsibility of the civil service itself. When the Cabinet was told there might be an operating deficit for ‘08/’09 it immediately put pressure on the civil service to cut costs.  But with hindsight we can see that this was not enough. With the new Constitution the responsibility for government finances is in the hands of the minister for finance.

Another lesson is that raising taxes to make up the government deficit can do more harm than good. The key thing in a financial crisis is to support and encourage private business, especially our pillar industries, and to restore confidence. This was emphasised in the PPM’s 2009 manifesto. It is increasingly recognized by governments around the world as the global crisis continues.

I think it is fair to say that the Bush government has ignored all of the lessons. The premier sees such lessons and the ordinary principles of good governance as obstacles to be evaded when doing what he wants. So we have the embarrassment of the UK forcing our premier to sign an agreement to observe some fundamentals – not that there is any sign that he truly accepts any of them. He prefers confrontation.

In my opinion voters need to choose a team, one that could form a government with its leader as premier; and it should be a team that believes in good governance, shows that it understands the lessons of the financial crisis, and will restore confidence and the rule of law. That is the only way voters can obtain a government that will take care of them and the country. 

The PPM is assembling such a team. That has been the main mission of the PPM since the first members came together ten years ago. The PPM team will certainly include new faces; it already has a new leader. I hope voters will examine the team and its manifesto with care before making their decision. Of course the performance and achievements of the previous PPM government should be scrutinized, but where mistakes were made the question should be whether the lessons have been learned.

101 exhorts voters to vote for individuals regardless of party affiliation, if any. This is how we voted in 2000, and it led to the first Bush government. A lot of people used some of their votes this way in 2009, and it gave us the second Bush government. Let us not make the same mistake in 2013. Another lesson.

Independent candidates should be pressed to say who they would vote for as the next premier. Voters should choose their government, not leave it to the MLAs to makedeals and compromises to suit themselves. 

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (45)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I agree with Duckworth's positiion but for different reason.  The UDP's behaviour has not only been shameless Bushism, it has also undermined the fabric of our society and served to set an extremely poor example for our youth.  By way of example, we see the Premier under three serious and seperate investigation, the Deputy Premier tainted with impropriety on the paving of private roads, MLA Seymour charged with GBH, MLA Solomon barging into a radio studio to 'tell off' another individual, Minister Scotland voicing full support of the Premier instead of distancing himself from criminal investigation or requesting that the Premier steps aside and we should not forget that both Seymour and Scotland failure to disclose their personal interest resulted in anouther trial.  In sum, unlike any party in the history of Cayman the UDP has used the Court as a revolving door and  has displayed a general disregard for the rule of law. This serves to dictate the standard of acceptable behavour for our your people who are likely to follow their example.

    It is not to say that the PPM are in any way perfect.  I too disagree with KT's and AE's double dipping.  However the PPM has demonstrate a solid respect for the rule of law and have not in any way undermine the fabric of our society or negatively influenced our youth by exaples of unethical behaviour. Our youth are our future and collectively we owe them an obligation to serve as good role models by demonstrating our total respect for the rule of law and by always acting with honesty and integrity.  I say vote for  honesty and integrity and bring back the Cayman we all know and love. Vote for the PPM.

     

     

  2. We are also watching says:

    Mr. Duckworth,

    You failed to mention that the country's debt has grown from $160M to a staggering $680M+ since the parties were born just 10 years ago. Your party was responsible for half of that.  The UDP was responsible for a good chunk of the rest. $200M schools, $50M roads, $10M hurricane shelters and $300M docks! Say no more.

    Parties have been BAD for Cayman and in the current tit-for-tat scenario will continue to be so. No long diatribe needed between you and 101. We need a real change.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I would bet that if CNS ran the poll on whether people would prefer the PPM, the UDP or the Box of Squid, that the Box of Squid would in hands down.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Duckworth, Duckworth,  time to let go and move on with the PPM to greener pastures. You are completely out of touch!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Mr. Duckworth,

    Tell us exactly what your party will do to strengthen and fix our laws and policies in order to eradicate corruption, cronyism, and other forms of abuse of political and public service office and if your plan is clear and goes far enough then maybe, just maybe, I will consider a PPM candidate. As long as your party is afraid to destroy the plague that is destroying my country they none of you deserve to be elected. No one expects the UDP to do it and if your party won't either then both parties should rot in Hades.

    Another former PPM supporter.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The box of squid is by far the best option available.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am hoping that the 3rd way will come into being.

    The UDP is, well everyone knows how bad they are and current PPM heirarchy – with a couple of notable exceptions – have shown themselves to be lazy beyond belief and not suitable for government. They collect their huge monthly cheques, do nothing, and rely on the UDP to screw up. They assume that doing nothing is enough if the UDP keeps going like it has. Hell – the PPM party leader makes just about as much as leader of the opposition as he would as Premier and for no work at all so maybe they hope to lose.

     

    • Anonymous says:

      The Leader of the Opposition makes about $45,000 p.a. less than the Premier.  

  8. Anonymous says:

    udp= worst administration ever

    ppm=?… the party who has not offered 1# alterntive policy suggestion over the last 3 years….

    independents= scary, backward, small minded….etc

    solution= direct rule for 2 years and give cayman political scene time to get itself together…and learn a lesson or two…..

    • Libertarian says:

      Friend, direct rule is not a remedy to our political and economic problems. Such a system where the people will relatively have little (if not any) democratic say over their own governance, will just expose the people powerless to the politicians in London that are hostile to their interest and financial achievements. Are you sure that you want to blindly choose the recourse of trusting a dictatorial system where your rights and preveleges as a citizen will be undermined by a Governor and administration set up by the special interest?  Think about the risk you are taking in trusting in a non-democratic governing body.

      • Anonymous says:

        for 2 years it is not a problem… look at the success they are achieving in tci……

        • Jennifer says:

          What success??????????  Could you spell it out for me.

          • Anonymous says:

            well they saved them from corruption and a mad man like bush, and the economy is booming and the people are happy. so the british know what they are doing

          • Anonymous says:

            Their former tyrant is in hiding in the Dominican Republic and will never show his face back home again. Can you think of anything that could top that?

  9. Chris says:

    The sad reality is that in the midst of all the scandal and investigations, if Cayman held a general election tomorrow the PPM would not win.

    They have failed when they were in government, they have failed as opposition and they have failed to demonstrate a proper alternative plan for this country.

    Read the political tea leaves and you will see that the UDP will get at least 3 in WB, 2 to 3 in GT, 2 in BT, 1 in CYB and therefore only need 1 more seat in the worst case scenario to retain control in 2013

    Thisis not due to their overwhelming competence by any means but instead to the poor leadership and weak opposition of the PPM.

    Mr. Duckworth your piece fails to point to a single benefit party politics has brought to the Cayman Islands since its recent inception in 2001.

    Its time for a third option. 

    A fresh slate of loosely aligned independents who always vote their concience instead of consistently towing the party line would actually be very refreshing and in my mind more effective for the greater good of this country. 

    • Anonymous says:

      I think you are overly optimistic about the UDP's chances. Much will depend on the outcome of these criminal investigations and there may be more than one MLA involved. There could well be a domino effect there. Much will also depend on the quality of the new candidates that both parties have to offer. Of the current MLAs Ellio and Dwayne are unlikely to be re-elected. Much will depend on the plans and policies that we hear about as we enter election campaign season.

      People who advocate a third option are well aware that that favours the return of the UDP as it will  split the anti-UDP vote.

       

      • Anonymous says:

        A third option should have been formulated from long time. If a third option party is not formed by September, you can almost predict the outcome of the election. The UDP will win once more again, and we will be scratching our heads as to what happened. It will be another 4 years. And PPM again will be the same old thing. So if there is a third option, it better start now!

        • Anonymous says:

          A third option will not achieve victory but will secure UDP victory. What needs to happen is for the PPM to disband so that there is a viable second option.   

  10. Anonymous says:

    I agree with the earlier comment. Why is it that the PPM has not avoided saying that if they get elected they will take a zero tolerance very very hard line against corruption and conflicts of interest by politicians and those on government boards? Given what this country is having to put up with, this particular PPM's failure speaks volumes to me.

  11. Special Needs Donkey says:

    Oh come on Ducko. The PPM might not be tainted with allegations of out and out corruption (and I am sure, wink wink, none of them are double dipping on salaries and pensions) but they are just as guilty as the UDP in terms of gross mismanagement of the country.

    Of course the Financial Secretary may be about as useful as moss on a rock, but to try to pass the blame on to him completely is symbolic of the laziness and ineptitude of the PPM leadership. Never forget that these are the lads who happily blew over half a million dollars on a Heroes Day parade. I guess Ken told them that was ok too……………..

     

     

  12. Anonymous says:

    The PPM has not been the same since the Chuckster left us. I never thought I'd say this but we were better off with KT at the helm and we need to give Arden the Deputy Leader's position now or will fall completely apart before 2013 ! Oh and by the way Mr. Duckworth your time has come and gone. Please step aside so we can rescue our party.

  13. Independant says:

    Interesting that Duckworth would talk about Miller Report and his party has done the opposite. No give me a box of squid away from the UDP-PPM political rhetoric!  And BTW, don't blame us for getting UDP reelected.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Sadly Mr. Duckworth's claims of meaningful distinctions between the UDP and the PPM, apart from certain personalities, lacks substance. As a former PPM voter, I once hoped that there was a clear distinction, but I no longer see much if any.

    There is a simple way that the PPM could clearly distinguish themselves from the UDP. They could make a simple, comprehensive, unequivocal, written commitment to the people of these Islands that if elected, they would within 6 months of taking office bring in new, much more rigorous rules, requiring much more inclusive disclosure of financial interests and banning any conflict of interest in political office, on government boards, and within the operation of the civil service. They could also make the same type of commitment to amend the law to add greater deterrence including financial penalties for corruption in public office, (three times the amount sought to be gain or the loss sought to be avoided is the typical level), to explicitly mandate the application of freezing and civil forfeiture for corruption offences, and to give actual teeth to the anti-corruption apparatus. 

    I do not suggest that the PPM government was involved in corrupt practices during their time in power. However, during their term in office the legislation which they did bring in to deal with corrupt practices in government has shown itself to be utterly naive and completely unfit for purpose. It is true that they tried to do something, but anyone with any sense can see all to clearly fom recent events that what they tried was completely ineffective given what it is possible to elect in Cayman. In the past 3 years the PPM have failed to own up to that short coming in addition to others. That destroys any trust I might have that they would make things better in the long term. I had expected much more specific demonstrations of their intolerance for corruption.

    It has been suggested on numerous occasions on CNS and otherwise that the PPM could distinguish what they stand for and will tolerate in relation to corruption from what others stand for, in this simple way that would cost the country virtually nothing and would indeed give the country hope and the possibililty of great economic benefit. Until the PPM shows that the propensity for tolerance of corrupt practices offered by the PPM is manifestly different from what others offer, I will not vote for a PPM candidate. For me and my family the issue of corruption is closely tied to the possibility of long term economic stability in Cayman. We will vote for the candidate who makes the clearest commitment to end any tolerance for corruption.

     

  15. Anonymous says:

    Mr duckworth:

    101 did not advocate for independents so it is not right for you to dimiss that otherwise intelligent commentary as independent propoganda. What the 101 article did was say that irrespective of an individual’s affitliation we must ask the right questions and elect the right individuals.

    Your choice to try to boil 101’s reasonable commentary on keeping all politicians accountable down to political propoganda is exactly the issue we have in this country. As a party member you have a right to advocate for your group, but surely even a partisan like you can see what 101 was trying to communicate?

  16. Sue says:

    Anthony, you are a straight PPM'r from the start. Of course, you are going to defend them and attempt to patch-up their incompentence whilst they were in office. It is clear as day that the Alden and Kurt exercised poor judgement in believing that there would be no global recession to effect their projects and government revenue the following year 2008/2009. When certain politicians saw the recession like a tidal wave hitting us, I recall that not even Kurt paid them any mind… instead Alden was trumpeting. "go ahead with the roads and school projects."  Well… we all saw what happened. Anthony, you can patch those things up all you want. Maybe it was not a case of bad mismanagement on their part. But they refused to listen and exercised poor judgement, putting the country into serious deficit.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Nice job dumping the FS in the ordure, Mr Duckworth. He and all his finance team deserve it as they were not then and are not now fit for purpose.

    • Anonymous says:

      To be fair, there is a handful of bright ones on that team, problem is, they are stuck under a pile of dead wood.

      • Anonymous says:

        I am Anon 7:30, 20:17. Yes, on reflection I would agree with you. But the handful is very small, the pile is high and the wood really dead.

  18. Whodatis says:

    Why do I suddenly feel like a 'ho' that has just been given a pep talk before being sent out on the streets once again?

    It is not because your summation of the situation in respect to the PPM is incorrect, but it is your conclusion and ultimate advice that poses the problem for me.

    If the "PPM" was an entity worthy of re-election then I strongly believe that the host of individuals that make up their group would have managed to survive for more than a single term in power.

    What you have explained in regards to fiscal management is not rocket science – yet the members of the PPM, of which I am assuming you were a part as well – could not manage to get it right.

    Frankly, I am not convinced that they deserve another go-round.

    Interestingly, there are elements in either group (UDP or PPM) that I actually like and in my humble opinion, what the country really requires is a hybrid of the strenghts of both parties.

    *What I dislike most about the UDP is the crass and bullyish approach, and what I dislike most about the PPM is their pretentious and elitist approach. Unfortunately, the catalyst of both is the same – arrogance.

    It saddens me to witness this 'us vs. them' game being played out when it is blatantly obvious that what is required is a little bit of both to achieve a set-up that is closest to ideal.

    Unfortunately, the chances of that happening are not looking very good at the moment, primarily because we have sworn enemies standing on either side of this political war. Enemies that appear to be prepared to fight to the (political) death rather than to fight for the betterment of the people they were elected to serve.

    In my humble opinion, neither the PPM or UDP "deserve" my vote until more maturity, humility and statesmanship is demonstrated by both parties.

    • Anonymous says:

      "If the "PPM" was an entity worthy of re-election then I strongly believe that the host of individuals that make up their group would have managed to survive for more than a single term in power".

      I think Duckworth's point is they have new blood who should be judged on their own merits.  

      Unfortunately voting for Independents this time around means returning McKeeva Bush to power. Your thinking that we needed a sprinkling of UDP and PPM is what got him into power last time around. 

      And no, we need more than "a little bit" of honesty and integrity. Having some that are honest and some that are dishonest means that you have a dishonest govt. 
       

  19. Will Ya Listen! says:

    Mr Duckworth is an honourable, intelligent, well intentioned  but incredibly naive man. As he sits in his intellectual Ivory Tower he fails to understand that the Party he nurtured (and was largely instrumental in putting them into power), once safely elected,  turned on "their" (his) ideals and principles and went their own (wrong) way. 

     

    The PPM is populated with people of similar intellect and ambition as the DUP despite Mr Duckworth's earnest endevours to describe them as something else. If he does not accept this he is doomed to repeating his earlier errors. He believed (confounding and alienating a substantial part of professionals in Cayman in the process)  that the Rollover Policy actually made sense – the adoption of which was one of the most significant reasons Cayman started its accelerated slide towards financial mediocrity.  It was bureaucratic ethnic cleansing and unforgiveable. It hurt this country badly.

     

    As far as "Learning Lessons" is concerned the simple answer is that the new Government (DUP PPM or any combination) will do what it damn well likes. Don't believe that self interest changes because the initials of the Party does.

     

    Caymanians have a profound capacity to accept an awful lot of cr*p and then, just as we fear the worst, turn round and sort it out. I hope they do it again in 2013.

    • Anonymous says:

      Attributing the creation of the PPM and putting them into power to Mr. Duckworth is false and mischievous.

      As for the "Rollover Policy" as it has been misnamed that was introduced under a law passed by the UDP (not DUP) govt. If that is an indictment of the PPM govt., who oversaw its implementation 2005-2009, then it must be a greater indictment of the UDP who created it in the Immigration Law, 2003. Time has proved that their rhetoric that the failure was in how it was implemented by the PPM is false. If that had been the case there would be no need to agonise over amendments to the law for 3 years but instead the UDP could simply have changed the implementation immediately. And please stop using patently inappropriate and inflammatory words like "ethnic cleansing" in this discussion since the issue has absolutely nothing to do with ethnicity. The ideals of the rollover – to control the number of persons who became permanent members of this society and to give opportunities to Caymanians – are worthy and still relevant. However, it did not manage to achieve them mostly because certain businesses decided that rather than cooperate they wanted to defeat rollover by exporting the job rather than train or hire a Caymanian to fill it. 

      It is plain for anyone to see that that all the UDP does is first in the interests of themselves, their big developer supporters and cronies and any benefits to the country are purely incidental.     

      • Anonymous says:

        It was ethnic cleansing – a lot of locals did not want their country overrun by a certain nationality from a neighbouring island.  Nice try though.

        • Anonymous says:

          Rollover applied to every nationality and ethnicity without discrimination so that is patent nonsense. So long as you were not a key employee you were rolled over.

          For your benefit let me explain what "ethnic cleansing" means. The official United Nations definition of ethnic cleansing is "rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or to remove from a given area persons of another ethnic or religious group". It is classified as a crime against humanity under international law. There was nothing "ethnically homogeneous" about either the people who were required to leave because they reached their term limit or those who were allowed to stay because they were exempt as key employees under rollover. Ethnicity had nothing to do with it. There is also nothing violent about being required to leave when your permission to remain in the country has expired in accordance with the law, especially since when you entered the country on the basis that there should be no expectation of permanent rights to remain. Obviously Cayman has not been ethnically cleansed at all nor could there have been an expectation that such a non-discriminatory rollover policy would have that effect. If instead an edict had been issued that all Jamaicans (since you are clearly referring to them) regardless of immigration status would be rounded up and forcibly deported that might have qualified.

          That sort of misguided rhetoric can only exacerbate the situation.

          • Anonymous says:

            Remember, everyone, “indigenous Caymanians” are simply descendants of expats who caught an earlier boat. And a lot of those who play the Caymanian card are at least half foreign (often Jamaican) and frequently pretty quick to marry foreigners too. Cayman, like the States, should be proud of being a melting-pot, instead of devising schemes to kick out honest workers. To all you Caymanians who disparage or oppress Jamaican workers here: shame on you. Most of you are doing nothing more than pulling up the drawbridge after you or your mom or dad managed to scramble over it.

            • Anonymous says:

              So it is nonsense to speak of ethnic cleansing in Cayman.

            • Anonymous says:

              I am sure Cayman is proud to be a melting pot but obviously that does not mean there should be no immigration and population controls. That would be stupid. I doubt that there is a country in the world with such a high proportion of immigrants where there has not been social unrest. Caymanians are very tolerant.   

            • Anonymous says:

              Try to stay on topic.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not sure I follow. Are you blaming Duckworth or a PPM who diverted from his ideals and principles for rollover? Since it involved "ethnic cleansing" are we to infer that Duckworth is an ethnic Caymanian?  

    • Remember says:

      Roll-over has been a policy of every government since the 1984 Caymanian Protection Law, at least.  Just because it was not expressly written did not make it any the less real.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have a great deal of respect for Anton Duckworth and appreciate what he has contributed to our country. That said, as one of the many PPM members and supporters working in the trenches leading up to the 2005 election, I can state without fear of factual contradiction that a great many people contributed to the PPM election victory in May 2005.  Knowing a little about Anton over the past several years, I am equally confident that he would agree.

      I have been a PPM member from day one, I have never personally from the PPM being in government and nor did I seek such exclusive beneift and pray to God that I never will.  Being of modest income I have contirbuted my time very generously and financially whenever I can.

      I get the impression from some people who dream of romantic times of the heigh day of "independents" that never was and will never be, that I should apologise for being a member of the PPM, that I have somehow have grown horns and that somehow I am less smart.  Our ability to disagree within the PPM is well known when some people want to use this as support for their falacious claim that we are indecisive, but they conveniently forget this when when they want to claim that being a member of any political party including the PPM means that we stop thinking for our selves.

      I do not apologise for being an inaugural member of the PPM. I have never had one moment to doubt the integrity of our PPM Leaders and God knows we hold them to a high standard. I agree with a lot ofwhat the PPM leadership has done and like most PPM members, I do not hesitate to let them know when I disagree or have concerns. The entire PPM Leadership has acknowledged when they made mistakes and indicate what they will do differently in the future. This makes me proud of them and ourselves that they are big enough people that can admit mistakes and take criticism without victimising the messenger. They are not perfect, nothing human is perfect, but they sure look good in contrast to most of the others!

      Yours for a better Cayman and better world for all.