UDP slams PPM proposal for Sister Islands

| 22/09/2008

(CNS): The five members of the United Democratic Party (UDP) were heavily critical of an anomaly in the Revised Constitutional Proposals published by the People’s Progressive Party (PPM) concerning voting in the district of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Under the proposal there would remain two representatives for the whole district, but each voter would have a single vote, and the two candidates with the most votes would be elected.

The PPM has proposed the introduction of "one man one vote" into the Cayman Islands and the division of Grand Cayman into single-member constituencies. The government has acknowledged that dividing the Sister Islands into two, each with a single representative, is unpopular in the district and have proposed this exception.

With the UDP Leader McKeeva Bush describing this as “ludicrous”, the four West Bay members and Sister Islands Representative Julianna O’Connor Connolly said they had not found any support for the idea anywhere around Cayman Brac.

MLA Rolston Anglin noted that the vast majority of people on Grand Cayman have never visited Cayman Brac and indicated that the PPM takes advantage of this fact to promote the idea that Brackers were very much in favour of these changes to the voting system.

In contrast, he said that all the feedback to O’Connor Connolly and what they had found at their constitutional meetings on the island showed that, while the people of Cayman Brac had listened to the government’s proposal, they were not necessarily supportive of them. Reinforcing this, a vote by the thirty people present at the meeting unanimously supported retaining the current voting system, and several spoke up adamantly against the proposed change.

“How in the world can that possibly work? How can that build a proper team to represent you?” Anglin asked, adding that their research had not found the system proposed by the PPM for the Sister Islands anywhere else in the world. “Not only does it not make sense but I suggest it is a highly dangerous proposition.”

To illustrate the UDP’s objection, he outlined a scenario that he said was very possible: Assume there were 900 voters in the district and one strong candidate got 600 of the votes. If the remaining 300 votes were divided among, say, five other candidates, it was conceivable that someone could be elected to the Legislative Assembly (LA) with 50 to 75 votes. Furthermore, the Sister Islands could end up with someone undesirable.

“Is that democracy?” Anglin wanted to know, noting that one of the key issues for the UK in the constitutional modernisation process was increasing democracy.

In the upcoming constitutional discussions with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that start 29 September, the government has proposed that the negotiating team include four members from the PPM, four members from the UDP, plus members of various NGOs.

The Deputy Speaker, MLA Cline Glidden, said they had not heard who was on the PPM four-person team but that they were “pretty sure” that PPM Sister Islands Representative Moses Kirkconnell was not included.

“The people of Cayman Brac need not worry. We have great confidence in your First Elected Representative and Miss Julie (O’Connor-Connolly) will be one of the four selected by the UDP. She is the legal mind in this group and we have every confidence in her,” said Glidden.

Raising another issue particular to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, the district’s first Elected Representative drew attention to the PPM’s proposal that, if Cabinet does not include a Sister Islands MLA, the minister with responsibility for District Administration would nominate one of the two representatives as his DA liaison.

In contrast, O’Connor Connolly said the UDP Leader had pledged that a Sister Islands MLA would definitely be a member of his administration. “We’ve seen recently a practical example of having our own minister in Cabinet,” she said. Before the arrival of Hurricane Gustav, she had to wait for a senior civil servant in Grand Cayman to give the authority to distribute plywood.

UDP Leader McKeeva Bush reiterated the UDP belief that the PPM proposals would set the Cayman Islands on “the slippery slope to independence”.

Bush also claimed that the UDP “did a lot for this island” during their time in government. Referring to Kirkconnell, he said, “This idea that the Brac only got started when Mr Mose got elected is nonsense.”

After the meeting, Bush told CNS that the UDP was considering fielding a second candidate for the Sister Islands (as well as O’Connor-Connolly). If Kirkconnell, who ran in the last elections as an Independent, had not joined the PPM, they would have been happy to work with him, said the Opposition Leader.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    "The UDP Leader McKeeva Bush reiterated the UDP belief that the PPM proposals would set the Cayman Islands on “the slippery slope to independence”"

    What utter nonsense! Independence is not some quagmire that you helplessly slip into. It is the result of a very deliberate step made on this basis of the clearly expressed wishes of the people. Nothing in what has been proposed contemplates independence or would require Cayman to set a date for independence, and even if it did we are at liberty to change our minds as did the Turks & Caicos. So now it is not about giving effect to the wishes of the people but protecting them from themselves!  Virtually every other remaining British Overseas Territory has had an advanced Consitution for decades and not one has fallen down the "slippery slope". Mr. Bush was not at all concerned about "slippery slopes" when his Administration was proposing a more advanced constitution.  

    This is demagoguery at its worst. Wake up people.