Colonial paternalism and constitutional talks

| 02/10/2008

The Cayman electorate should be wary of a United Kingdom negotiating team that fields several members from a “Directorate”, one of whom is described as a “political commissar”. It sets an unfortunate and patronising ‘we know best’ dirigiste tone and sends entirely the wrong message.

This unfortunate start is compounded by the swift dismissal by the UK team leader of any suggestion of transparency in the debate itself. This seems to be the British civil service up to its usual closed door tactics. 

The Cayman Islands constitution has progressed little in more than 30 years, due principally to a lack of consensus locally. It is now most inadequate for the Islands’ governance as is demonstrated almost daily. And if Cayman continues to follow the same processes as before, the same poor outcomes are likely, with the talks ending inconclusively.

So if the participants in the discussions were to have an audience of interested and concerned voters watching and listening (in silence), it might just make them all think very carefully about grandstanding or putting forward extreme views and work very hard towards achieving a meaningful conclusion of which all could be proud,

The UK team has done the people of the Cayman Islands a disservice.  


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  1. verticalpig says:

    So, Mr Ridley, will you be handing back your OBE in protest?

    Fortunes, possibly including yours, have been made by Cayman trading under a self adopted British flag of convenience and I can see how the beneficiaries of that model would like it to become more entrenched by turning the role of Governor into a purely ceremonial one.

    With true independence the game is up for the financial sector, but everything just short of the Union Jack being hauled down for the last time is more grist to the financial mill.

    Whose advancement is really on your mind, Joe Cayman’s or your own?

    If the FCO get a whiff of a desire for independence it will be granted quicker that the ink can dry on a new Bill of Rights but not quite as quick as the electronic transfer of funds out of Caymanian jurisdiction.

    Who in the world conducts what are essentially diplomatic negotiations with a public gallery watching every move?

    The problem isn’t the format or venue for the negotiations with the FCO team it’s those voters who would cut off their nose to spite their face and, from what I can see, you are honeing their razors.

    • Anonymous says:


      "Cayman trading under a self adopted British flag of convenience". What on earth is verticalpig talking about? Cayman has not chosen to "adopt" anything. It is a colony of Britain and has been since 1670 (Treaty of Madrid).  While not Caymanian by birth I believe Tim Ridley is Caymanian in spirit and genuinely wants what is best for this country (his efforts as Chairman of CIMA are a testament to this). I do not see how constitutional advancement is going to benefit him as opposed to "Joe Cayman". It is bad form to impugn his motives with no basis. It is also nonsensical scaremongering to suggest that the proposals for constitutional advancement are tantamount to a desire for independence or that this would necessarily lead to the immediate demise of our financial industry. No, the FCO does not leap around granting independence wherever it detects "a whiff of a desire" for it. Just ask anyone in Bermuda where in the last 40 years the issue has been extensively debated and indeed  a number of referenda on independence have been held. Their financial industry appears to be intact.

      Backward thinking we can do without.       

  2. Kerry Horek says:

    While I disagree that opening up the meetings with the FCO representatives regarding the Constitutional talks etc would be messy and difficult.  I feel that these talks would have given the people of this nation the opportunity to voice their concerns directly to the FCO representatives.  See their faces and hear the compassionate voices.  It is a sad day when our nation is not afforded the respect to make suggestions and be heard.  Hearing directly is much more affective than hearing via a third party line of communication.

    I am all for independence and if any of my Governments decide to travel this road then they have my blessings.  Just do the right thing as our country is under attack right now from all directions and when the fan has stopped spinning we Caymanians are the only ones left behind to clean up what falls to the floor.

    May God bless our country and it’s people at this time that the decisions made will benefit all and not the select few.

    Kerry Horek

  3. Anonymous says:

    While I agree that opening up the negotiatons could make them more messy and difficult to manage, I also share the view that that despite this they should have been open.  Much of the important aspects of the negotiations will be lost in the post transcripts.