Today’s Editorial January 14: It’s not about sides

Speaking about May’s referendum on Cayman’s new Constitution, Leader of Government business Kurt Tibbetts said the exercise was not about whose side someone is on; it’s about issues.

Mr. Tibbetts is absolutely correct.

Whether you consider yourself a member of the People’s Progressive Movement, the United Democratic Party, or neither, Cayman’s new constitution will be affecting the lives of the people of this country long after all of the current politicians are gone.

Yes, the starting point of this current process is a document of recommendations put forward by the PPM. We had to start somewhere, and the PPM earned the right to say where we start by winning the May 2005 elections.

But everyone should remember we’re not really starting from scratch. We already had the bulk of a constitution worked out in 2003, and the UK even produced a draft constitution for consideration. Even back then, there were only a handful of issues on which the PPM and UDP disagreed.

Based on the knowledge gained from events that have taken place since 2003, and based on the knowledge of what the UK has subsequently agreed to in the constitutions of two other Overseas Territories, the PPM has proposed a few new items for our constitution.

Now it’s up to the people of this country to decide what they want. Perhaps you don’t care about such issues as what we call the leader of our government; perhaps you don’t care how much constitutional power our attorney general has. But there are many other important issues to be determined by our new constitution, including if and how we enforce internationally recognised human rights, how we elect our governments, and the requirements for standing for election

Perhaps never has the Cayman electorate had so much say in its future. Because the UK wants assurance that whatever Cayman comes to London with as a basis of negotiations represents the desires of the vast majority of people, voters have the powers to ensure the PPM listens to them.

But this cannot be a case where PPM supporters blindly agree to what the government has put forward, or where UDP supporters simply dismiss the proposal because the PPM made them. All voters in this country need to vote their conscience because the outcome could affect generations to come.

And should the referendum lead to a constitution that no one likes five or 10 years from now, the citizens of this country should not blame this PPM administration; they should only blame themselves.