Bodden pulls no punches

| 12/08/2010

(CNS): A key player in his own book, former minister Roy Bodden paints a candid, critical picture of modern Cayman politics and pulls no punches when it comes to examining the behaviour of his legislative colleagues over the years. Although Patronage, Personalities and Parties is an academic work, Bodden admits it is controversial. The book, which was published last month, is also a far cry from the usual dry political text books found in university libraries. Bodden gets to the very heart of the fundamental problem, which still impacts Cayman politics today. The author and former politician says that the “motive of monetary gain while in public office has been allowed to ride roughshod over the altruistic obligations of holding public trust.”

From the country’s national hero, Jim Bodden, to the current premier, McKeeva Bush, Bodden criticises the country’s recent political representatives for allowing enrichment to get in the way of ethics.
The book is a treasure trove of revelations regarding Cayman’s recent political history, and the university president offers the first intelligent analysis of the problems that have plagued the country’s representatives. Bodden is fearless in his open criticism of the main characters and points out that the self interest which has been persistent in local politics has been detrimental to the development of democracy and the people.
Bodden is particularly critical of politicians having significant outside business interests, which he acknowledges is not illegal but is still damaging.
“While holding outside interest is not in itself illegal, once the requisite declarations are made, one is left to ponder the morality of situations in which representativesplace themselves in conflicting positions of competing against those very persons they purport to represent by using their privileged positions to obtain critical inside information, then establishing entities to capitalize on this information,” Bodden writes.
Elected to the legislative assembly in 1988, Bodden was Education Minister from 2000-2005. Losing his Bodden Town seat in 2005, Bodden returned to the world of academia and began writing his trilogy ofbooks on Cayman’s political, economic and social history.
Patronage, Personalities and Parties is the second in the trilogy but Cayman’s first definitive look at the behaviour of the political players in this country and dares to call into question those who have dominated the political scene. Bodden, who is now president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, points out in the book that the vices of greed, selfishness and arrogance are rampant amongst the country’s political elite, which has made it difficult for courage, ingenuity and honesty to rise to the top.
One of only a few minster that have held office and not had outside business interests, Bodden points out that in Cayman politicians have criticised other politicians for not having successful businesses and have promoted the myth that unless one is successful in business you can’t be a politician. He notes that in Caymanian society it is more prestigious and respected to be rich than to be lettered.
Throughout the book Bodden gives an honest assessment of the performance of many of Cayman’s historical political figures, including those who are still serving. In his examination of the leader of the United Democratic Party and current premier, McKeeva Bush, Bodden, who was once a member of the UDP, points out that, on occasions, Bush has come across as a man with more ambitions than principles and describes him as the consummate modern Caymanian politician.
“For the better part of his political career he has never lost his hold on Caymanian politics,” Bodden writes of Bush. “He has demonstrated a gladiator’s record in dispatching his political enemies.”
The UCCI president describes Bush as combining the ruthlessness of Niccolo Machiavelli with the savvy of Sun Tzu, and while he says Bush has brought a 21st century approach to local politics, some still believe Bush is too willing to sacrifice principle for expediency.
Bodden has much praise for his former political colleague, though, and suggests those who have criticised him have done so from a position of prejudice. He points out that Bush has often managed to outsmart and out-manoeuvre political opponents who saw themselves as being more intelligent.
However, in his book Bodden makes a telling observation when he describes McKeeva Bush as being “on a political treadmill, constantly searching for new political friends.”
Bodden pays tribute to Bush’s ability to resonate with the people and the way he moves among the ordinary Caymanian folk, which he says is why he has endured for more than 25 years in politics. “He has left those who view themselves as politically superior on numerous occasions during election time to wonderwhat happened,” Bodden writes.
Bodden argues that Cayman has stumbled into the twenty first century carrying all of its acquired baggage of voluntary colonialism, which has been an underlying issue of Cayman’s modern political history and diluted its agenda of self determination. But he also raises concerns that all politicians in Cayman are trapped in the legacy of the past where they have viewed political office as a way to get rich. Bodden wonders ifthere will ever be in time when the country’s political representatives will not be asking themselves who benefits.
Patronage, Personalities and Parties is published by Ian Randle and is available at supermarkets and bookshops across the islands.
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  1. British Bulldog says:

    A most interesting read.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Add any books related to the struggle for blacks’ self-identity and pride ("Black Power" to some) to lists of banned publications as well as ‘skin’ mags like Playboy which are not even near pornographic – honest, I buy it for the articles!  However, seems like Rolling Stone must be banned too, can’t tell when last I’ve been able to find an issue anywhere!


  3. Anonymous says:

    To summarize his findings, would it be fair to say:  "A politician can fool some of the people all of the time . . . and that’s enough to make a decent living"???

  4. Anonymous says:

     We won’t be allowed to charter Cayman Airways to take them out of Cayman like Mr. Pindling did in the Bahamas.  Lord Premier will ship us first.  He is always seeking to bring more, so we will soon have no say in our own country.

  5. anonymous says:

    I would like Mr. R oy Bodden to discuss what were the titles of the banned books that Caymanians were deprived and cheated out of. they were not pornography I understand they were historical. we need to know who banned them, who were the authors and what was the nature of the bok manuscripts.

    We need to know. this is not a communist nation and ths is absolutely a disgrace that something like this should happen. Why were they banned who banned them, who were the authors. I understand after the books were banned they were burned?!

    This is just going way too far with the people democracy. This must be exposed to the fullest!

    Who banned the books?

    Was it the governor of the day

    An MLA?

    A Leader of Government business?

    Any Minister of Education

    Did you ban the books rRy?


    Caymanians need to know.

    Anyone with knowledge on this please get this discussion going PLEASE!

    • Anonymous says:

      Exhibit A: "Caymanian Politics: Structure and Style in a Changing Island Society" (1974) by Ulf Hannerz, the predecessor to Mr. Bodden’s book.   

    • Anonymous says:

      Anon 20:51. In the "good" old days, books by or about communism (especially Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, Marx and Lenin), books supposedly about witchcraft or satanism, obeah or rastafarianism were all banned. The Penal Code listed all this (I presume it doesn’t anymore). On Cayman Brac, biology text books that spoke about evolution were burned; only the Adam and Eve version of the ascent of man was allowed.

      As to who was behind all this, it certainly was not the Governor or Administrator or "our colonial masters". And it was not Roy Bodden! I leave someone else to offer up an answer but I will bet "the churches" were in the thick of it.

      • curious says:

        Were The book by Malcolm X and the one by Marcus Garvey, and the Little Red Book by Mao tse Tung Amongs them?

        • Anonymous says:

          Yes, Curious, they certainly were. Books by West Indian writers like Eric Williams and C L R James were not as I recall banned but you were thought a bit suspicious if you alluded to them.

          • anonymous says:

            Well I rekon a lot of those books named about communism, witchcraft etc should have been burned. They were all trash, that’s what you do with trash you burn it!,

  6. I can’t comment about his work, because I haven’t read the book yet.

    But I am glad to see someone right about the subject. Hope to read it someday!


  7. Anonymous says:

    This book is repetitive, angry and "chip on the shoulderish" in bits, poorly edited (there are masses of typos) and, in significantly large parts, it is more of a score settler with Truman Bodden (and Cayman’s "white or nearly white elite") than a proper, objective historical analysis of issues and events.

    HOWEVER – and it’s a big however -, it is nonetheless terrifically readable for anyone interested in our political scene and Mr Bodden is especially good on the Jim Bodden/Unity Team years. I think he deserves credit for writing so candidly and. for those willing to accept/excuse some of his quirks and prejudices, it gives some fascinating and useful insights into politics past and present in Cayman. Sadly, I suspect it will be a book more bought than actually read.

    • Anonymous says:

       I purchased the book as I enjoy Caymanain history but was quite disappointed whnen I found out he had so much reference to white or near white Caymanians as being more economically privileged than the darker skinned Caymanians when that is not the case.

      I am a white skinned  Caymanian and I would definitely say that most brown or darker skinned Caymaniansare more economically privileged than I am.

      I do agree that generally  the most economically privileged persons here are expatriates from Canada and Britain or persons from those places who have gained Cayman status and that there is a economic difference correlated to race in respect to the foreign born element in this society but such correlation is totally lacking in respect to what I term as the local Caymanians

      He speaks about the Merrens and McTaggarts being of the oligarchy but that is something of the past as most  Caymanians these days are as economically privileged or more so than any of the Merren or McTaggart family.

      With the exception of possibly  the Kirkconnells and Mr Linton Tibbetts   there are no white or near white local  Caymanians these days that are more socially or economically privileged than the average for local Caymanians as a whole.


      • Dirk says:

        While I take your point, and agree that there are many more darker skinned Caymanians with wealth and privilege now than in the period Roy covers, I think you vastly underestimate how many "whiter" privileged Caymanian families are still around. It is not only the Kirkconnells and Tibbetts, but also some with the last names Thompson, Bodden (Capt. Theo, Truman and Naul as just a few examples), Crighton, McTaggart, Merren, Ritch, Connolly, Foster, Hislop, Hurlstone, Flowers and many others.

        • Anonymous says:

          Its refreshing to read how many Caymanians are wealthy and privileged. A stark contrast to what we normally hear, ie.  being "taken advantage of", "being held back", "glass ceiling", "overlooked" etc.. What frustrates me is that all these achievers are no where to be seen when it comes to politics. Because these winners don’t stand for politics is why we have limited choices. 

        • Anonymous says:

          I agree that many on this list are fairly wealthy but some cannot be termed ”white" or ”near white" . My point was that the persons such as those named are not as wealthy/ any wealthier than dark skinned Caymanians such as the Andersons. Godfreys, Kent Rankin, Don Seymour, Willy Nixon and many others so there is not now or never have been any correlation between skin colour and economic privilege in the Cayman Islands, at least since emancipation.

          Even in the era of the 50s and 60s or prior, families such as the McTaggarts and Merrens were not more economically privileged than the Andersons, Alvey Smith or Shirley McField.

          Other Caribbean islands such as Jamaica and Barabados there was a certain amount of correlation but even there it was not totally correlated as you have/had the desperately poor Redleg white Barbadians of Martins Bay and the equally poor German Jamaicans of SeafordTown


      • Historically conscious says:

        How dare you to dispute a professor who gone to the extent of carying out wide reserches in the Cayman archives And the institute of Jamaica and the archives of that country. Why don’t you reserch and come up emirical evidence to rebut Mr. Roy.  Are you ashame to admit Cayman’s checkered past with slaves and race. Denial won’t help We all know some of these things before the professor published his book.

        • Anonymous says:

          When did Roy ever become a professor? And the word is "empirical" not emirical". Which poster were you addressing?

        • anonymous says:


          When the inhabitants grow up politically and socially, they will not only admit to the checkered past of slavery in the Cayman Islands, the powers that be will also be mature enough to truthfully present History Books to our children that attest to where they really came from, who they really are, and where they are going. I think this may be the reason that Caymanians find it hard to get past the identity issue and x-pats really prey on this and even capitalize on them living in a fersad.

          How can a nappy head high yellow, or kinky head, or  chestnut  skin or brown skinned individual perm his or her hair and profess to be white? that person has an identity problem that must be resolved. His name may be "White Chocolate"  But his parents did not tell him the truth about who he is and its a shame ! Until Caymanians realize and admit that we only had a hand full of white families in the Cayman Islands, and that  the rest were negroes that were blessed in all colors because the White slave masters layed with their female slaves, living in denial of these facts and truths will only lead Caymanians to continue to deprive themselves of their true identity! This is so sad.

          Slavery in the Cayman Islands was no different from slavery anywhere else in the world. It might have been on a lower scale but slavery is still slavery and the majority of Caymanians are descendants of Black slaves from Africa mixed with White masters from Europe. What is so bad about that you are ashamed of?. Its your heritage. Our heritage is also that of Pirates of the Caribbean ! that maybe something to hold our heads down about but why? there are others imported into this country that are descendants of the worst outlaws in the world!

          Be proud of who you are, proud of where you came from, therefore you can be proud of where you are going.

          I advise the government to act mature and act responsible in providing real History books for Caymanian children to read about their true History, where they truly came from and not just stories that you wish you want to blind side them with.

          Foreigners will continue to divide and conquor us as long as we keep fighting amongst ourselves about who is white, who is brown skin, who is light skinned, who is black as the ace of spade, who is white choclolate, and who is, who is.  It is not important!

          Here’s what’s important. The Words of William Wordsworth.

          The lives of great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they while their companions slept, were toiling upward through the night.

          another famous writer also said; that it is  not the color of the skin, but the TRUE HEART THAT BEATS WITHIN that MAKES A MAN , A MAN AND BROTHER. 

    • Anonymous says:

      This is the only thoughtful comment about the book that actually "sort of" reviews it. It’s a shame we have no media here who would review it properly and question/challenge Roy and others about its assertions. It was noticeable the other day when Roy was on Sterling Dwayne’s show that all the lovely old timers (and some not so old time) who called in congratulated him but said they hadn’t read the book "yet"!! At $30 a copy plus rather dense reading, I doubt many "real’ Caymanians over a certain age will read it and some of those who do will not like his constant Truman, Jack Rose, Ducan Merren bashing/pigmentocracy stuff.

  8. Anonymous says:

    An excellent Book. This should be a "must read" for Caymanians and residents that when you argue among you contemporaries or even posting an article on CNS website you can do so from the position of an "informed person". Too often we see "cheap talk "and talk without merits in peroidicals or arguements on "call-in programmes"  which are one sided or misinformed. Now is your time to read and absorb a "rich source of information". The book is both sophisticated ad rich in information and yet written that even an average joe like myself can understand it and put my own previous knowledge of the history and civics of the Cayman Islands into perspective. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right(or should be) of all persons in a western democratic society as the Cayman Island . Public Expressions should not only seek to edify but also to educate and inform one’s fellowmen. Congratulation to the honourable gentleman on another excellent work.

  9. Jonathan says:

    It is time for all with positions of elected leadership to be held accountable for their actions.  It is time for the dereliction of duty to the country as a whole in the furtherance of one’s own interest to be identified as what it is.  It is nothing less than the prostitution of a nation.  The well known realities of this are detrimental to the Cayman Islands in the extreme.  I remember the drivel being spouted by the then leader of the Turks and Caicos when he said that "this is the way we do politics in the Caribbean" in response to the allegations of corruption.  Look at the price paid in that island nation for the willingness to accept such a crook as a leader. 

    The corruption in Cayman is self-evident.  I cannot think of one major hotel project here that did not, in recent memory, show this to be so.  When these islands were not seen by international business powerhouses as some sort of gold mine the effects were not as damaging as they are now.  Once elected you are responsible for all the constituents within the given electorate.  To do otherwise is not acceptable now, if it ever was.  As the changes of massive monetary wealth came to the Cayman Islands on the same scale the effects of such also destroyed many of the most beautiful things about these "islands that time forgot". 

    Corruption is unacceptable, more so now than ever, as the golden goose has been beaten into a coma and is on life support.  It is time for those who love this country to realize that we cannot accept any leader who has anything except love of country and sense of responsibility for the country which he/she has been elected to represent.  The job must be done free of theavarice and greed which we have all witnessed and many have participated in.  It is wrong and it has to be stopped for this country to have any hope of a somewhat bright future.

    If an elected reprensentative is seen to be acting as a profiteer, corrupting the judicial system, giving favours to some while trying to destroy others, utilizing the pulpit for the purposes of pontification, outright bribing people for their votes on national television and making political moves with the purpose of subverting democracy, then said person should be treated as the ultimate enemy to the good governance of said country that they truly are.

  10. Anonymous says:

    An important work that chronicles our recent political history, and the decisions that were made.

    Is there a parallel with the Bay Street boys of the Bahamas?

    Colonialism has had it’s purpose, but how relevant is it continuing to be given the new world order we are in?

    Who will be our Linden Pindling, is the question we must now ask, because we are nearing that situation in relation to the protection of Caymanians from the issues we are now facing.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how long it will be before Big Mac bans the book?????

    • Anonymous says:

      He has no right nor authority to ban the book. Are you trying to send him home early. anyone that tries to take the position of God, is self destroyed and cuts their own life short. so stop saying silly things like "How soon will Big mac Ban this book?  Roy and any other author who feels like writing has a right to do so.

      We don’t plan of going communist, nor will we tolerate a communist dictator wearing a cloak of Christianity.

      We have Democratic rights have you forgotten. There’s the courts system and there’s the Privy Council.

      Roy is much too smart to take any crap from ig mac, Rolston or anyone else.

      Roy is not the only past or former legislator that speaks badly of elected governments. franklin Smith resigned because he could not stand their crookedness,  others have told me they are nothing but a bunch of crooks!


      • Anonymous says:

        Simmer down, the person was being sarcastic.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m not certain, but wasn’t a movie banned from here already? I think it was chronicles of narnia. If that’s the case then why stop there??


        Something to think about


        CNS, can you guys tell me if Im correct about this?


        • Anonymous says:

          The Golden Compass

        • Anonymous says:

          I can assure it was not the Chronicles of Narnia which was based on a book written by a devout Christian (C.S. Lewis) and contained Christian themes. 

          I remember there was controversy about "Get Rich or Die Trying" with 50 cent.  It would have fed right into the gang culture we have now and is hardly the influence we want for our young men.


    • Anonymous says:

      Expect a “speech” soon that calls Roy a “rabble-rouser”.

      • Anonymous9 says:

        Hahaha! Too right! And any other childhood name heard on the playground or in the sandbox