The comments of a former British Member of Parliament have angered both sides of the Legislative Assembly and evoked calls for the Governor to clarify the UK’s position.
Matthew Gordon-Banks, a former MP in England, was critical of Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush in an article that appeared in another newspaper last week. The article urged Caymanians to remove the current Government in the upcoming elections.
Mr. Gordon-Banks also insinuated that the British Government and other institutions in the UK shared his views.
Minster of Education Roy Bodden rose in the House at the end of the day’s proceedings Monday to discuss what he called a matter of ‘urgent public importance’.
Based on the comments of Mr. Gordon-Banks, Mr. Bodden wondered if the British Government had departed from its usual hands-off policy concerning elections.
‘It appears the UK Government has taken a direct hand in the internal affairs of the Cayman Islands in a manipulation of the elections to get a desired result,’ said Mr. Bodden.
Mr. Bodden suggested that Mr. Gordon-Bank’s comments could be a case of sour grapes.
‘I note that his public relations firm is one of the applicants that wanted the PR contract in London, and that he is critical of DLA, the firm that was successful in getting that contract.’
Mr. Bodden said Mr. Gordon-Banks was entitled to his opinion, but said his comments were not appropriate for someone in his position.
‘This is a serious trespass into the internal affairs of this country,’ he said.
Mr. Bodden said he would address the matter with the Governor this week.
Minister of Health Gilbert McLean also spoke of the matter, which he said was of grave concern.
Noting that it appeared the British Government had a particular interest in seeing the results of the election go in a certain direction, Mr. McLean said Mr. Gordon-Banks’ comments cannot help the election process.
‘This can lead to reactions, coming at a time that is absolutely inappropriate,’ he said.
He said even the Opposition should be worried about such attempts to influence the results of the election, saying if the UK Government were indeed backing the comments, ‘this or any succeeding Government could be subject to manipulation.’
Opposition MLA Anthony Eden, saying he was speaking for himself and not the Opposition, said he had serious concerns about the interview.
‘I would call on the Governor to respond,’ he said. ‘Whether this is interference or not, the public needs to know what kind of weight (Mr. Gordon-Banks’ interview) carries.
Mr. Eden called the criticisms levelled at the Leader of Government Business serious.
‘It’s a black eye to the Cayman Islands Government,’ he said.
Opposition MLA Alden McLaughlin took a different approach to the matter.
‘We have to grow up and understand that in any modern government… criticism is par for the course,’ he said. ‘We have to accept basic human rights, including the freedom of expression and the freedom of the press.’
Instead of complaining about what Mr. Gordon-Banks said, Mr. McLaughlin called on the Government to respond to his allegations.
‘Either it true or it is not,’ he said. ‘Let the country know what the position is on the things he said.’
Mr. McLaughlin said the article noted that Mr. Gordon-Banks was not a British government minister and therefore he was not entitled to speak on behalf of the UK Government.
“We understand that Mr Matthew Gordon-Banks, a former Member of Parliament, is in the Cayman Islands on a private visit. The comments he made to the Cayman NetNews were his personal views and do not reflect the position of the UK Government,” said Kate Joad, aide to the Governor.