Archive for December 18th, 2012

Mac takes 3 across LA floor

Mac takes 3 across LA floor

| 18/12/2012 | 127 Comments

(CNS): Update 7:50pm — Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin's no confidence in government motion has passed in the Legislative Assembly with 11 ayes and 3 noes. Premier McKeeva Bush abstained after making no contribution to the debate. When the LA opened Tuesday afternoon Bush, Mike Adam, Captain Eugene Ebanks and Ellio Solomon immediately crossed the floor of the House, indicating a clear split with the rest of the United Democratic Party members. As McLaughlin pointed to the gravity of the situation in his debate, the problem now facing the UDP was apparent. (Photo below by Dennie Warren Jr)

mac crosses floor.jpg

The leader of the opposition said Bush could not stay in office while on bail and said that was the essence of motion. He had hoped that the UDP would have dealt with Bush themselves, he said. 

However, the crossing of the floor by the premier accompanied by three memberssignaled the death knell for the UDP government and confirmed the party split. It also illustrated why the caucus was unable to deal internally with the fallout from the premier’s arrest on suspicion of theft and offences under the anti-corruption law.

Indicating his intention to fight the forces against him and in a strategy that may see Bush come out fighting with a reformed UDP, his former government colleagues are now dependent on the opposition to stay in office.

Mark Scotland was the only person on the remaining government front bench to speak in the debate and he indicated that the decision by himself, Deputy Premier Juliana O’Connor Connolly, Rolston Anglin, Dwayne Seymour and Cline Glidden to vote in favour of the motion was based on an agreement that all of the caucus had arrived at following Bush’s arrest, which was to ask him to resign.

Well aware of what the decision meant for him and his colleagues’ political careers, Scotland said the situation the House found itself in and the break up of the UDP could have been avoided.

In what was evidently a difficult day for the premier and the UDP members, the cracks in loyalty for the political veteran turned into a distinct split.

While Solomon, speaking to CNS after the debate, said that the premier and the three members who had split from the government retained the support of the party, inside sources said that the wider UDP had supported the need for the premier to resign.

It is now unclear which of the two distinct camps will remain with the UDP and which will form a new political group.

With many questions remaining unanswered, the governor is expected to meet with Bush on Tuesday evening to consult with him over his inability to command a majority.  Duncan Taylor is expected to make a decision about revoking the premier’s position tomorrow and to either call early elections or facilitate the remainder of government to reform and limp on until May.

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Calling we ‘them’ and them ‘we’

Calling we ‘them’ and them ‘we’

| 18/12/2012 | 42 Comments

Ringing in our ears is the call for change.  But is this desired change one which will but change our present elected representatives?  Or will this change go further by identifying and eradicating the power and control our political handlers have enjoyed for decades?  For I trust that our young people in particular understand that party politics did not create the economic and moral decline of our islands; in fact the opposite occurred. 

Party politics came about as one of several consequences of a society ripe with greed, strife and divisions.     

I have often asked myself if we really live in the same country and mean the same things when we use the words Cayman Islands. Is there so little left of our once communal existence and cultural values that forty years after development begun we cannot collectively define ourselves, who we are and what we stand for in our political, cultural or moral arenas? And many of our young people find themselves so chick that they spend their free time using technology to ridicule those that are not so chick rather than looking into where they came from.

Why would any sensible person believe that the question of political belief and conduct could be discussed before any meaningful discussion about personal, cultural and social values? Some of us have definitely placed the horse before the cart by trying to return to the way politics was organized in the past without understanding the meaning of the past to many of those who lived it.

Any way forward must take history into consideration but it seems that our distain for history, or at least our history, remains deeply ingrained even as we begin to speak of change. The question remains however, change from what to what and to benefit whom? Politics is about the ‘we’ not the ‘I’ and most times about ‘them and us’, so without some knowledge of our history or Caymanian history the new agents of change might very well  mix ‘we’ and ‘them’ up calling we ‘them’ and them ‘we’.

I love the sounds of change. The things it could mean. But this change must come not only to the political arena, it must come to every aspect of our lives. And it would not be too harmful if we began to seek change firstly within ourselves.

There are great possibilities ahead for the young and old. But those that collectively guide the change that is a coming must make sure that this change is not just a consequence of our present history of denial and divisions but a conscious attempt to know ourselves and that which is good in others.

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Power cut over transmission line fault

Power cut over transmission line fault

| 18/12/2012 | 2 Comments

bucket men.JPG(CNS): Residents across Bodden Town and Prospect were without power for more than an hour this morning as Grand Cayman’s power provider dealt with a faulty line. Power was out from 9:04 am until 10:19 am when CUC Engineers were able to switch the supply back on. Officials from the company said that the power outage was the result of a fault in the transmission line. The line was inspected and it was determined that it could be reenergized safely and that power could be restored to the Prospect and Bodden Town Substations. CUC said that it sincerely apologizes for the inconvenience this outage may have caused.

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Alden: Early election needed

Alden: Early election needed

| 18/12/2012 | 53 Comments

aldenmclaughhead.jpg(CNS): Following the successful recruitment of five UDP members to support and force a no confidence vote in government in the Legislative Assembly at 3pm today, (Tuesday) the opposition leader has said that while it will be possible for the splintered UDP to form a new government, the best outcome for the country would be early elections. Having successfully canvassed eleven signatures for an amended lack of confidence motion and triggered an emergency meeting of the House, Alden McLaughlin confirmed that the opposition benches have only agreed to support a reconstituted UDP administration by attending the LA to give any splintered group a quorum if necessary. However, he said all business brought by a stop-gap government would be treated on merit.

McLaughlin said the opposition has not  agreed to form a coalition with the five members who are not supporting McKeeva Bush and that, as leader of the PPM, he was not interested in leading a government in these current circumstances. The opposition leader said it should now be up to the electorate to decide.

“We made it clear to the members of the UDP who are supporting the agreed motion that the opposition is not interested in forming a coalition government and I am not interested in becoming premier in the current circumstances,” McLaughlin told CNS Tuesday morning. "I believe an early election would be the best result from this debate.”

McLaughlin’s motion is seconded by Ezzard Miller and is expected to be debated at the revised time of 3pm in the Legislative Assembly today. With the backing of UDP members Juliana O’Connor Connolly, Rolston Anglin, Mark Scotland, Cline Glidden and Dwayne Seymour, the motion will carry and the present government led by McKeeva Bush will fall. It is then up to the UDP in discussion with the governor how they will reconstitute the government and who will play what role.

However, if the majority splinter group opposed to supporting Bush cannot gain the support of the remaining UDP members who will not support the no confidence motion, it may not be able to reform a majority government. In that case the governor may call early elections or the group could limp on until March, when the House will be dissolved ahead of the planned May general election.

The opposition leader said that whatever the outcome, it was untenable for the premier to stay in office while being on police bail following his arrest on a suspicion of a number of criminal allegations, including theft and several offences under the anti-corruption law.

Bush has remained steadfast in his decision not to resign as he has categorically stated he has done nothing wrong. So far, while Bush has been arrested on serious allegations and while police have seized computer, books and documents from his home and office as part of the enquiry, no charges have been laid.

“The people of the country should be reassured that what is being done is not being embarked upon lightly,” the opposition leader said. “We understand the gravity of the situation and this is not an easy thing for anyone. No one wants to see a government fall this way and we had been keen to give the current administration the chance to change their leadership without controversy and drama.

“But it is clear that Mr Bush won’t resign and there is no unanimity in the party to force the change. It is untenable for the premier to remain in office while on police bail for serious offences, so we have no alternative,” he added.

The historic debate is expected to take place this afternoon in the Legislative Assembly and it is expected to be broadcast on government’s new television channel.

Check CNS for any changes to the current 1pm start time or other breaking news relating to the current government crisis.

Vote in the CNS Online Poll: How should the political crisis following the premier's arrest be resolved?

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Prince Charles under attack over tax payments

Prince Charles under attack over tax payments

| 18/12/2012 | 0 Comments

F534B993B9FF1229F996CC8BB5B3C.jpg(The Independent): Clarence House defended the Prince of Wales' financial arrangements today after he was reported to authorities over claims the Duchy of Cornwall is a "well entrenched tax avoidance scheme". Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, said it had written to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, asking them to investigate the £728 million organisation's tax arrangements.It claims that an information commissioner ruling in November last year means the 675-year-old Duchy is a separate legal entity to the Prince – to whom it paid more than £18 million last year – making it liable for corporation tax.

Clarence House disputed this, saying today that the Duchy is a trust set up to generate income for Princes of Wales and not liable to pay the tax.

"The Prince voluntarily pays income tax on income generated by the Duchy, so there is no legal requirement to pay corporation tax and to do so would result in double taxation," a spokeswoman said.

The Duchy is the estate given to the heir to the throne, and according to its 2012 accounts, comprises around 53,408 hectares of land in 24 counties, mostly in the south west of England and including the whole of the Isles of Scilly.

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MLAs agree to oust Mac

MLAs agree to oust Mac

| 18/12/2012 | 102 Comments

_DEW2373 (2).jpg(CNS): Five UDP members of parliament have signed a letter along with the opposition calling for a no confidence in the government debate, which will see Premier Mckeeva Bush ousted from office before the end of Tuesday. With no agreement among the United Democratic Party on how to handle the crisis of their leader’s arrest, Juliana O’Connor Connolly, Rolston Anglin, Mark Scotland, Cline Glidden and Dwayne Seymour have put their names on a letter along with all of the opposition members, forcing a sitting of the House, after the speaker failed to respond to the opposition leader’s request Monday.

Ezzard Miller, the independent member for North Side, confirmed to CNS Tuesday morning that the letter from the opposition benches had been submitted to the speaker with eleven signatures — four more than the seven required to trigger the emergency meeting, which is expected to be held sometime this afternoon (Tuesday 18 December).

Although Mike Adam, Capt Eugene Ebanks and Ellio Solomon have not signed the letter calling for the meeting and a lack of confidence debate, it is understood that, should the motion succeed and bring down the current UDP administration led by the embattled McKeeva Bush, the three men might be encouraged to help reconstitute a UDP government until the General Elections in May.

If the premier remains with the UDP, it might still hold their majority of three. However, should Bush cross the floor taking any of the other three memebrs with him, the UDP splinter group would not be able to hold government.

As the opposition is unlikely to prop up a divided UDP, this will see Cayman go to the polls as early as March. However, if the UDP can regain some unity, Deputy Premier Juliana O'Connor Connolly would take up the job of premier for the next five months, while Anglin would become deputy. Glidden is still expected to take over Bush’s portfolio.

While the premier remained defiant about remaining in office one week after his arrest on serious criminal charges, including theft and offences under the anti-corruption law, the UDP caucus spent the last seven days flip-flopping over their loyalty to the UDP’s leader, the country’s first premier and the Cayman Islands longest serving member of the Legislative Assembly.

Check back to CNS for more on this story later today.

CNS Online Poll: How should the political crisis following the premier's arrest be resolved?

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UDP split on support for Bush

UDP split on support for Bush

| 18/12/2012 | 67 Comments

_DSC8108-web-1.jpg(CNS): In the face of mounting rumour and speculation Monday, members of the United Democratic Party caucus spent the day flip-flopping over their decision to withdraw support for the premier in the wake of his arrest last Tuesday, sources close to the party told CNS. There was still no official word from the UDP almost a week after the arrest and the beleaguered premier also remained silent on the cracks in loyalty to him, but UDP backbencher Ellio Solomon publicly stated that he was backing McKeeva Bush in his decision to remain in office. With the party split down the middle over his refusal to step down, the caucus was unable to retain a united front. As a result, Cayman is now likely to face an early general election and could be going to the polls in March.

The premier and his supporters cannot count on all of the UDP members to defeat a no confidence vote and those who have declared against the premier cannot reform government without all eight standing together, leaving Cabinet members and the UDP mute.

The governor’s office has stated that it has received no word from either side. The office confirmed to CNS Monday that it had not heard anything from the party membership or the premier about the situation and until the governor heard from one or the other, the premier remained in charge of the Cayman government.

The premier was arrested on Tuesday 11 December on suspicion of theft and various offences under the anti-corruption law in relation to the alleged misuse of a government credit card and the importation of dynamite by Midland Acres without the correct permit. Since then, the UDP government has been silent about whether or not the party remained behind him. However, caucus members, with the exception of Solomon, handed Bush a letter this weekend asking him to step aside until the police investigation into corruption was concluded.

Bush was released on Thursday on police bail until February. Following his departure to Jamaica last Thursday, he issued a statement confirming that he had no intentions of resigning. The premier has maintained that he is innocent of all allegations and planned to remain as the Cayman Islands premier but his colleagues appear to be hopelessly split over their support for the party leader. Although Bush insists he is staying, the UDP caucus does have the power to oust him, but so far the eight remaining Cabinet members and back benchers have been in turmoil and have failed to use that power.

Throughout the weekend and all of Monday at least four members of the UDP caucus have flip-flopped over their support for the premier, with three members solid in their opposition and only one solid in support. 

By Monday evening there was still no word from Cabinet, caucus or the party’s general council and only Solomon spoke up publicly for Bush, saying in an interview with Cayman27 that he supported the premier remaining in office and had not signed the letter. However, sources tell CNS that Solomon’s continued support for Bush is because the rest of his party colleagues refused to sanction him taking a Cabinet post rather than any genuine support for the UDP boss and political veteran.

The indecision of the UDP leaves the country in crisis as the premier was reportedly insisting he was not resigning Monday. While he clearly no longer carries the cross-rank support he had managed to maintain since last summer when the police interest in him was revealed, the party membership has still not been brave enough to oust their leader. With the UDP split, neither group will be able to command a majority and the government is increasingly likely to fall before Christmas, triggering elections within ten weeks.

Bush himself remained silent Monday, despite stating that he planned to deliver a statement to the people in the evening. He was said to have accused his party colleagues of stabbing him in the back and that he would not be resigning but was taking some time off on the advice of his doctor until Cabinet reconvened in January.

He was, however, spotted at a charity football event in the evening while his West Bay political colleagues were unable to join him as they remained locked behind closed doors wrangling over who would and who wouldn’t stand by the UDP leader.

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