A conspiracy too far

| 05/11/2009

The growing attachment to the conspiracy theory that the United Kingdom is ‘out to get us’ is hardly surprising given the events during the tenure of the most recent representative from Her Majesty’s government but it is a misunderstanding of what is really going on. Despite how it may seem, there is no conspiracy just unofficial goals which the UK government doesn’t really try to hide very much.

In short, the British government wishes that all of its Overseas Territories would be more like Victorian children – seen and not heard. It would like them to conform to its perceptions of international standards on everything, from human rights to fairer tax systems, and essentially not cause any trouble. It is not involved in any plan to destroy the Cayman Islands’ financial services sector through subterfuge and convoluted plots.

The latest theory from the leader of government business that the UK is using the powers of the auditor general’s office to make the Cayman Islands government non-compliant with the Public Management and Finance Law again so they can “put the crunch” on McKeeva Bush is highly unlikely.

Dan Duguay has upset both political apple carts and even the governor since he came to office, which is as clear indication as any he is doing his job properly. If both the PPM and the UDP have accused him of hidden agendas, playing politics and demonstrating a bias, it’s obvious he must be straight down the line. Derision from both sides is always a comfort to those who wish to remain as objective and impartial as possible.

Bush’s latest attack on the AG, however, reveals far more about the wider frustrations that the people in the Cayman Islands are feeling about the relationship with the UK than it does about the relationship between Bush and Duguay.  As Cayman’s latest constitution is implemented, it’s a good time for Caymanians to consider how much benefit they really derive from this relationship and being part of the last remnants of a faded empire.

The recent revelations regarding the governor’s perceptions of good governance with the special police investigation team (SPIT), the hypocrisy of the UK holding out on allowing us to borrow when it is billions of dollars in debt, and its desire to see Cayman introduce taxation so that it can rest easy that it will never have to bail us out have been tough to stomach but are part of the problem of being a colony.

If we are honest, most of us know full well that the UK could not care less about this island or the people. It is certainly not interested in sitting around in underground bunkers plotting the demise of the offshore sector. Duguay is not an MI6 agent disguised as an accountant (he really is an accountant). And what the UK really wants is for Cayman and other OTs just not to bring any trouble. As a result, the UK itself has got a little paranoid about where trouble could come from.

The situation in the Turks & Caicos Islands hasn’t helped, nor did the impact of the global financial crisis, both of which have fuelled the UK government’s own paranoia that these pesky territories could give a wholelot of trouble for the UK economically, in terms of global reputation, as well as its international commitments.

My own sources in the FCO have told me more than once that the Labour government in particular would love to see the back of every last territory it has because the potential and perceived contingent liabilities have a tendency to give the prime minster terrible indigestion.

Those who work for the FCO that want to ensure they get their place in Whitehall’s hall of fame for ‘jolly good chaps that showed the natives out in the colonies who’s boss’ are therefore likely to want to seek out the potential pitfalls for the UK when they arrive.

It seems that almost the minute the current governor had hung up his seersucker suits and Panama hat he was sniffing around looking for potential trouble that may upset his bosses back at the Old Admiralty Building but which he could head off at the pass and get his ‘fine chap’ award before he retires.

This being Cayman, where the rumour mill churns with more power that a category five hurricane and the Marl Road seems longer than US1, the governor was very quickly sucked in and began imagining all manner of ills in every corner, hence his odd behaviour and selective judgement when it comes to good governance.

Although he went after the police, the judiciary and Charles Clifford — the far more mundane day to day but real problems of poor governance in Cayman were simply ignored. Not a single report by the Office of the Complaints Commissioner has ever been acted upon by the government, but the governor has never even mentioned them. When Duguay produced his report about government departments failing in their obligation to supply a set of accounts at the end of the year, he made one statement declaring his intention to get it sorted … then proceeded to do nothing and never speak about it again. And he has never even once questioned the undisguised misuse of the power afforded to board members in many areas of public life, to mention but a few examples.

The governor, it seems, is easily influenced and whosoever gets his ear at any one time seems to be able to manipulate him and steer him in a direction to suit their agendas, as very clearly demonstrated by SIO Martin Bridger.

This may all look like a conspiracy but ultimately it is about incompetence, misjudgement and unsubstantiated fears. The UK no longer has a motherly love for its colonies (personally I don’t believe it ever did) as they are these days an embarrassment on the international stage and a reminder of the British Empire’s brutal and cruel past — something left wing governments in particular find very uncomfortable.

The UK’s position is quite clear: it wishes to retain enough control over the territories to be able to clamp down on them if they look like they are about to cause any trouble while giving the appearance of autonomy to satisfy the UN, but what they really want is for each and every one of them to start plotting out their routes to independence.

Some of our politicians (and Bush is not the only one) are misunderstanding this situation and interpreting it as a conspiracy.  It is not. It’s black and white — the UK wants us to either shut up and behave or take down the Union Jack.

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  1. O'Really says:

    Conspiracy theories are like religion, if you believe in them, you believe in them and no amount of logic or common sense is going to change anything. The best thing about a good conspiracy theory is it allows people to abdicate responsibility for what really happens and this may be Cayman’s only established but growing industry. 

    • bradley says:

      1. We can remain with the UK under this new Constitution, with the illusion that we have the final say over these Islands; 2. We can go Independent; or, 3. The UK can declare full British rule over us like colonial days and do whatever she likes with us…

      Conspiracy or no conspiracy, have we not economically made it on our own? Has the UK ever been a good mother to us? Caymanians, we have to make up our minds!
      Do we want Independence where we can strengthen our diplomatic ties? 
      Do we want taxation, a fuzzy Constitution, remaining in the state we are in now? Or,
      Do we want Integration where we are considered like any other district in the UK where we have to adopt laws against our wishes because we are not in the UK’s majority?
      Think Caymanians! Think! What is best for us and our children’s children!
      • Real world says:

        Cayman’s economy would collapse with independence.  The current tax base would disappear.  Property and income tax would be necessary and probably take at least 40% of most of our income.  Crime and unemployment would rocket.  Cayman needs the links to the UK more than ever.

        • bradley says:

          Yes, that is true!

          But let us not make taxation, crime, and unemployment as a result for going the way of Independence. We are presently a non-self governing territory under the UK, and this year, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), has more than once, attempted to make us into a "taxing" financial center. It seems, if we want to avoid taxation, we HAVE to go Independence – And that, by the year 2010 – 2011, may pretty well be our only option. More than likely, if we remain with the UK, they will have their way!
          You speak of Cayman "needs the links" of the UK to economically survive.
          Tell me, what are those “LINKS” between us and the UK that if broken, would make our economy collapsed? 
          Right now, it is through our revenue base and the help from our own community that is keeping us afloat, and we have banking clients from all over the world – nt just the UK. Moreover, Independence doesn’t mean we change our status from being a direct tax-free jurisdiction.
          I am not so enthused about Independence, but let us not get all delusional and fearful about our self-determination from this "mother country"
          • Anonymous says:

            Our banking customers pay the higher prices associated with doing offshore business in Cayman because of the perceived security and stability associated with the ultimate responsibility of the UK – the value of that goodwill is massive when it comes to investor confidence.  Those are our links.  They are subtle.  They may not be visible.  But ask any senior offshore worker and they will amost certainly agree with this.

            The UK has not sought to impose taxation of our offshore business.  We would not become a ""taxing" financial center" as you say.  Rather it has suggested local direct taxation ie income tax or property tax neither of which would impact directly on the offshore services.  I agree there may be an indirect impact via increased professional costs for on island services, but logically this should be offset by the reduction of fees which are currently central to the government’s revenue streams. 

            Ironically it is the "taxing financial centers" which are arguably doing the best as we exit the recession.  But it is far too late for Cayman to rebrand itself and enter that growing market.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you suggesting that people have never conspired or that its impossible for people to reason based on evidence of a conspiracy?  What does this have to do with abdicating responsibility?  What you said is baseless

      • O'Really says:

        Is it my fault that your comprehension is lacking and therefore you fail to understand my point? Do your failings render my points baseless?

        Only in your mind, Einstein! 

        • Anonymous says:

          "Conspiracy theories are like religion" – do you think it takes a leap of faith to believe that conspiracies happen?

  2. Maurice says:

    On the face of it a well written article but I think you have sugar coated some of your statements.

    I admit that I find the "mother and child" cutesy analogies very trite but I dounderstand that for many Caymanians, particularly the older generation, it is a hearfelt belief.  It is misguided and a cruel deception because it leads to nothing more than a betrayal of well meaning people in as much as the UK government’s real attitude towards them is so cynical, indifferent and unpleasant.

    You go as far as admitting that Britain cares little about Cayman or most OT’s and of course you are absolutely correct in that statement. However, I do take issue with structuring your piece around "conspiracy theories" and then using the kind of language that makes you sound exactly like your dogmatic view of what a conspiracy theorist or theory is. It is a shame that you allowed that to slip into your reasoned writing.

    I have seen many comments on here that, due to your view ofconspiracy theories, you would doubtless label as such, but I have not seen language such as "subterfuge" and "plots" and "underground bunkers" used anywhere but in this article.

    There is no need to look for conspiracy theories as you say. If people took an interest in world affairs it is plain to see and easy to verify most of the criticisms and complaints that people have levelled at the UK are quite valid. I have never suggested any secret plots on these forums, but I have pointed out to people the truth about the farce and theatre of US politics, the UK and its derided government, the corridors of power in Whitehall, the distasteful direction of the Labour Party and its already disastrous consequences for British society and ultimately Europe and the world in the future. I do not dress it up as some form of conspiracy, but most people are so blind to the realities that I can see how some would view my statements as the rantings of a wingnut. This is, of course, exactly what corrupt, dishonest and powerful men encourage in order to continue with their policies without being challenged.

    As far as the UK and its seemingly sudden desire to reign in its OT’s, some of what you say is undoubtedly correct and your sources in the FCO may well provide valid insights. Ultimately though they are servants of the socialist creeps (sorry, politicians and honourable gentlemen) and the banks that own them. As Mark Twain once said: It is hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon him not understanding it".

    It is plain that when Obama used the lie that offshore financial centers were a major factor in the economic collapse of the US, the inevitable result would be exactly what we have seen from the UK. Connecting the dots is not really that much of a leap or any kind of conspiracy if you have any understanding of the global power games that are being played out constantly.

    I respectfully suggest to you, as I do to many others, that all the conciliatory language used in relation to the UK and its record on foreign policy and empire is a cop out, because there is no denying that history has shown them to be brutal and savage masters and not much has really changed in  the present day.

    You do not need to be a conspiracy theorist to do your own research on anything, but it is easier to laugh off dissenters and ridicule them as the corporate owned media do. Readers here might perhaps like to learn more about the Anglo American empire as it exists today, the desires of powerful men for a "New World Order", the history of Britain and its policies around the globe, who really makes those policies and how they affect the lives of millions around the world. There is an endless list of things that most British and American people are completely unaware of and would be shocked to learn, but as I say, it’s not hard to find them.

    Stories such as that of Diego Garcia remain unknown to most people in Britain and almost certainly many in Cayman. It is a particularly shocking tale and exposes the UK in just one of its unforgivable actions against an entire people. It happened several decadesago but nonetheless, the lies and deceit have been continued by subsequent governments to this day as you will see from the film. This is just one demonstration of the true face of western "democracy" and the lies that are told or the truths that are simply hidden from public view. I hope you will allow a link to stand below because it is a story that should be told to as many as possible, simply to illustrate how what seems impossible in the eyes of many, is, in reality, just another political inconvenience to brutal men.


    Please seek out other documentaries by journalists like John Pilger, go and watch independent films on YouTube or Google Video about things like the Federal Reserve and you will find yourself following an amazing trail of breadcrumbs that lead to information on some truly eye opening knowledge of the world around us and the men who ultimately govern us all. Yes, you will find some far out "conspiracy theories" but you will also discover much documented fact that will sometimes shock and appall you too.

    For this, you cannot rely on canned "news" from the networks or institutions like the BBC and once you begin to pick apart the presented face of world governance you will see why. Alternatively you can remain blissfully ignorant, but don’t laugh at the "conspiracy theorists" because those who do invariably have no counter argument to their views and theories.

  3. The Unusual Suspect says:

    Good one Wendy. I’m getting the drift.  I subscribe to it also.  I have never been able to understand the concept behind overseas territories.  One argument, and usually the only one, is that these nations need the protection of a larger entity.  From what?  A different larger entity?  A similar larger entity?  The fear engendered by this concept has unfortunately permeated nations everywhere, leading to an inferiority complex where their affairs are concerned.  I have searched for a viable reason for Cayman to continue to be an overseas territory to no avail.  Nations such as Cayman have one foot in the past.  With eyes on the future. That past is a remnant of empire.  An empire that has proven itself to be self-serving on so many occassions that it’s a wonder it’s even a question nowadays.  Nowadays.  That’s the key.  We can’t possibly emulate a culture that has so little relevance to our own unique situation.  To continue to do so breeds the inferiority complex I mentioned.  Everyone continues to draw an analogy between a parent and a child.  This is not the case and it confuses the issue.  Talk of independence is much like talking about a marital separation.  It’s frightening.  But when you are unhappy in a relationship, or subject to abuse, it is time to re-evaluate your needs.  Drawing an anaolgy of that many people remain in an abusive relationship because they are afraid of the consequences of leaving.  But the consequences of staying are to remain a victim and stifle individuality and your own future.  Cayman, in comparison to other countries, has much going for it.  An active and informed population.  A sense of destiny.  And a warrior attitude devoid of arrogance.  Unfortunately the adolescent behaviour of our local politicians does not support that.  And as long as it continues it will breed insecurity. Which is a serious detriment to us finding our own way in the modern world. Post-empire.  It isn’t required that we justify our needs and desires to anyone but ourselves.  Be secure in the fact that in the future Cayman can express itself without fear of repercussion or an agenda.  Be not afraid.  Be proud and pro-active and ask what’s relevant to our future.  The sky is not falling.  It is opening up.  God bless Cayman.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Cayman you are 18 years old now politically…you can decide to leave your mamas house or stay under her roof and abide by her rules.

    Dont think you can stay under her roof and make your own rules.

    …but if you going to leave the house, what preparation have you made? you got locals trained and ready to run the prison, police, be high schools principles, judges, doctors and lawyers?

    If not, you got to take yu licks till you can mek preparation to get out.

    As they say, do what you have to do until you can do what you want to do.

    Good luck Cayman.

    • Anonymous says:

      Cayman is not 18 years old politically.That is obvious from the immature nature of our politics. At best it is 14 with all the emotional turmoil that brings. Time for us to grow up though.  

      The challenges of independence are not about getting people to run prisons, the police, schools etc.. People may be hired for the purpose just as they are at present. They are not being supplied free of charge from the UK. However, it is about have accountability systems in place so that we do not go the way of other former colonies succumb to corruption.  We need to learn how to govern ourselves and quit the childish, destructive politics that is being played out by the parties. It is about being prepared to take our place among independent nations with all its responsibilities and challenges.


      • what a mess says:

        I agree!

        The issue here is about Cayman being ready! And what benefits will the people derive from becoming independent?

        I wouldn’t be so concerned if our political leaders were busy putting in place real anti-corruption legislation with real teeth. What we see over and over again and again is the dragging of feet with some legislation and the speedy pushing through of other legislation. And most glaringly we see a strong resistance to Human Rights along with lip service paid towards environmental and social concerns. More and more  about short term financial concerns with little regard to long term socioeconomic concerns.

        Leaders have done little to nothing with educating themselves let alone the people on what human/civil rights are truly about.

        And that leads me to conclude that Caymans political leaders are not capable of leading Cayman…they have demostrated over and over that they are mainly about themselves and getting re-elected…at whatever cost.

  5. Anonymous says:


    First off, very nicely written piece. Pleasure to read. However, I have absolutely no reason to believe in your “incompetence” argument. Incompetent persons get fired not have their contracts extended for a year. Therefore your article does read a bit like a ‘”spin”…no doubt FCO will like it also.

    The UK is absolutely trying to rid the Cayman Islands of its Financial System as it exists. Even Gorden Brown has said so. The White Paper more or less said that from 10 years ago. The Governor has said publicly that he has to stand behind his Prime Minister. So it is quite out in the public.

    The Governor keeps making outrageous public statements like his last about the corruption here without offering any evidence or convictions. While I agree with him there is likely to be corruption here (we see even Downing House was caught up with the BEA/Saudi affair) I believe in his position as Governor it is unreasonable to state it as a fact without due process. And that is one reason why the theories will continue.

    While we know the FCO has been shown to be incompetent even by their own Government, there is clearly a hidden (not so hidden) agenda here. The UK absolutely would like to loose the territories to independence however they are in a catch 22. One, the push them to independence and have the UN discuss their contingent liabilities and funding for the transition period or two, keep them but let UN think they are getting autonomy by way of these trumped up “constitution” each one with the “nuclear option” still intact.

    I am also sure the MI6 have had “real accountants” that are also agents…I will not speak about Duguay specifically as I do not know. It is clear however that his personal need to get in the limelight, has left him vulnerable to be ‘directed’ (misdirected) from all sides.

    The UK might be able to fool some people, some time but not all of the people, all of the time.

  6. Chris says:

    I too teeter on both sides of questioning incompetence vs. malice when it comes to UK’s actions.  In TCI, the governor rid the government of all crown land and tourism record keepers.  The governor and Sir Robin Auld investigator took the word of a handful of shifty men who hoped to take over the government whilst being a part of the interim government (their plan back fired).  These men hooted and hollared for transparency, yet hide behind innuendo and cover of night secret meetings to discuss ways to sabatoge anyone in their way.  Yet, the UK took their word at face value without any investigation of these men.

    UK does not care about Cayman and TCI.  A clear sign was Cayman’s vow to sue the UK for the cost of the investigation.

    • frank rizzo says:

      I would not disregard or place less weight on Sir Robin’s investigation based on the character of the instigators. While I do not subscribe to the "ends justifies the means" way of looking at the situation, I’d be willing to bet that there are a few TC Islander who are thankful for those "shifty" men.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The LOGB’s ranting is simply a political tactic designed to deflect any criticism of his approach to the Cruise Port issue. He hopes to galvanize public support by rolling this up with Operation Tempura etc. and the focus will then be on the AG rather than the questionable procedure being followed. We see this time and time again.  It was the same with the Charles Clifford affair where the attention was diverted away from the alleged corruption and to the person exposing the alleged corruption and his motives for doing so. He is a master at misdirection and unfortunately large segments of the public fall for it. 

    You say that the UK just wants us to "behave". The question is what does "behave" mean? Not have a viable financial industry? Mr. Brown went to the U.S. and conveyed to its political leaders his vision of a world free of tax havens (that’s us, OECD white list notwithstanding). The UK believes that it is losing billions of pounds in tax revenue annually because of offshore centres like Cayman. If only we were eliminated those revenues would, it believes, would return to the UK.  It believes that our only advantage to investors is tax competition and confidentiality and if they are eroded then we must of necessity fail. UK MPs that have visited the Island have suggested that Cayman should forget about the offshore financial industry and focus on tourism. The dots are so close that there is scarcely any need to join them.        

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well said. There is no need to attribute to deviousness that which can easily be explained by incompetence. But as you alluded to in your marl road observation, people love conspiracy theories, and when they are fed conspiracy theories by those who also literally feed them, they are not interested in seeing or hearing any "facts" after they have made up their mind.

    On the other hand, we must never forget that just because you are paranoid, that doesn’t mean that the b@stards are not out to get you!

  9. just me says:

    Giving Cayman its independance would be like kicking a 10 year old out of the house.  A financialy troubled (who isn’t?) and not perfect (who is) house but a house AND family just the same.

    Incompetence, misjudgment and unsubstantiated fears.  Lots of that going around.

    Could it be a chip off the old block thing or is that just Caymanian?

    Or is it just Human?

    Is Cayman still growing,learning, and developing or has it reached its peak?

    No good reason that the child can not grow to be smarter than the parent but lots of bad reasons.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if McKeeva will get an invite when Chris Bryant marries his boyfriend. Maybe they could discuss the McKeeva’s dictotorial, anti-democratic exploits while Bryant admits that the only thing Gordon Brown cares about is that Obama doesn’t get upset with him that the Cayman Islands still exist.

  11. M. Road says:

    Hey you, stop trying to shut down CNS by spouting your truths and sensible arguments. Some of us enjoy a good back and forth marl road thread. Honestly, what fun would a weekday be without one! Enough of your tomfoolery already.

  12. JC says:

    Whats to love?  Really?