Not pushing independence

I write you in an effort to put right a misconception that may be arising about the United Democratic Party’s and my position on the issue of political independence for the Cayman Islands.

This incorrect information is being put out there mischievously by persons desperate for political mileage, chief among them being Leader of the Opposition Mr. Kurt Tibbetts.

I refer to your Friday, 18 February, edition in an article titled ‘UDP, PPM agree on independence’ in which Mr Tibbetts is reported to be of the opinion that I managed to persuade the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Mr Bill Rammell to issue a letter inviting discussions on independence. Further to that, the Opposition Leader is quoted as saying that he is ‘disturbed’ because I appear to be looking at the possibility of independence without a mandate from the people.

Such uttering by Mr Tibbetts represents another of a series of desperate acts by a desperate man who would stoop to any level to get attention.

By saying that he thinks I convinced the FCO Minister to issue the letter shows how much Mr Tibbetts is out of touch with reality. Additionally, his comments are a further indication of his muddied thinking. He constantly accuses me of having bad relations with the UK, but now he is saying I convinced the UK Minister to do something.

That letter was sent to all British Overseas Territories, not Cayman alone. As Leader of Government Business of the Cayman Islands I hardly have any influence over how representatives of the British Government deal with these islands, and surely have no say whatsoever on whether the UK should invite Cayman and the other OTs to discussion on any matter.

In fact, an example of how far removed that I and the Government of the Cayman Islands are from UK decision making can be found in the way the invitation to discuss matters concerning independence was sent out.

I first learned of the existence of this letter from the Governor, who said he had sent it to me and to the media. In fact, I heard it on Radio Cayman before receiving my copy. Such are the conditions under which I operate as Leader of Government Business.

It is likely that the FCO issued the letter based on discussions at a meeting of leaders of overseas territories last September in London. I did not attend that meeting because it was shortly after the passage of Hurricane Ivan, and I found it more important to remain and work with the people of Cayman in rebuilding – something that the Leader of the Opposition has done little of.

Just before Ivan, Cayman had hosted the OT leaders in a preparatory meeting prior to the London gathering with the FCO. At a press briefing after that meeting in the Westin Casaurina, I made it clear that the Cayman Islands Government had no intention of broaching the subject of independence during the subsequent meeting with the UK Government.

As most people would know, that occasion was not the first time I have made such a statement. In my last address to the Chamber of Commerce, I made it very clear that independence is not on the agenda of this government.

Mr Tibbetts’ claim to be ‘disturbed’ about the appearance that I am looking at independence without a mandate from the people is nothing more than a cheap effort for political gain. As he continues to flounder and be out of contact with the people, Mr Tibbetts will not hesitate in taking every opportunity to get public attention.

W. McKeeva Bush, OBE, JP

Leader of Government Business,

Leader of the United Democratic Party