The Legislative Assembly ended midnight Tuesday morning in pretty much the same fashion as it began: with lots of politics.
Even the usual friendly natured farewell speeches before the dissolution of the House were marked more by rancour and politicking this year.
We have addressed before the issue about the amount of political rhetoric that goes on during debates and other business before the House, and we’ve been starkly criticised by the legislators for doing so. A Compass editorial last May titled ‘Politics as Usual’ led to outraged responses by two MLAs.
It is true that Cayman’s Westminster style of government encourages a certain amount of conflict and that some of that conflict will be political in nature. This isn’t a phenomenon unique to Cayman and we therefore expect a certain amount of politics in the House.
But when politics takes centre stage in the Legislative Assembly at a time when the country faces severe challenges, we have to wonder where the priorities of the elected representatives lie.
The problem in Cayman right now seems to be the deep-seeded resentment between the members of the People’s Progressive Movement and the members of the United Democratic Party. These resentments, which really took hold after the so-called coup of November 2001, are manifested in what sometimes seems like hatred and it clouds the judgment of the opposing sides of the House.
As a result, Legislative Assembly debate isn’t as useful as it should be, with members trying harder to one-up or put-down the opposing side rather than address the issues facing the country.
Good ideas from the opposition, like the motion to rethink the 2008/09 budget spending plans, were rejected flatly by the government. We must assume that politics played a part in the sitting government’s decision to stubbornly hold on to the view the local economy would support its spending plans, even when the all the signs pointed to global economic crisis.
Conversely, the opposition loudly criticised the proposed new constitution and urged people to vote no on it for a while, even while it was not offering any constructive suggestions itself. Since, in the end, the two sides agreed on way more than they disagreed with relation to the constitution, we must assume the initial tactic was pure politics.
We all know that there will be plenty of politics along the campaign trail leading to the 20 May elections, but we sincerely hope the members of the next Legislative Assembly don’t make the House a place for everlasting campaigning as the last Parliament did.
Ultimately, this country needs its elected representatives to do what is best for the country, not what is best for their political careers.