Today’s Editorial for May 22: Unity needed now

The people have spoken.

Just as in the 2005 elections, the voters of this country have resoundingly rejected the sitting government and instead indicated they want change.

The election results signified an astounding fall from grace for the People’s Progressive Movement, which won the 2005 election in landslide fashion, taking all nine seats it contested.

But the United Democratic Party should be wary not to make the same mistake the PPM did after the 2005 elections and think that everyone who ticked a box next to the name of one of their candidates did so because they are enamoured by their party. As in the last election, we suspect many people voted against one party; not necessary for the other party.

The PPM’s decline from such immense popularity should serve loud notice that the people expect their representatives to do just that: represent the people in the best interests of the country.

Somewhere along the way, the PPM representatives lost track of this mandate and started doing things their own way, regardless of whether the country thought they should do it or not. They paid for that mistake at the polls on Wednesday.

Part of the problem was the PPM’s unwillingness to work with the UDP, and in particular Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush, for reasons of deep-seated animosity and party politics.

Perhaps nothing epitomised the PPM’s attitude more than when former Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts told the Legislative Assembly that ‘not even on the kindest of mornings’ could the government consider Mr. Bush’s motion for a reassessment of the proposed budgetary spending plans in light of the deepening global economic crisis. Had the PPM bothered to consult with the broad financial sector at the time, they would have discovered many in that industry were extremely worried about the global financial outlook.

But it didn’t matter to the PPM that Mr. Bush’s motion had merit; it only mattered that the motion was coming from him, and they weren’t going to accept anything coming from him.

This kind of attitude is no way to move the Cayman Islands forward. If this country is to be one of the survivors and thrivers in the post-economic-meltdown world, it needs its elected politicians unified in the effort to do what’s best for the Cayman Islands.

The election is over. We can only hope that the UDP goes about its business of dealing with the many challenges facing the country and leaves the politics behind, at least until the run-up to the next election.

We also hope the remaining seated members of the PPM can concentrate on being a productive Opposition, without the kind of rancour shown during its term as government.