This newspaper hasn’t always agreed
with former tourism minister Charles Clifford; in fact, we have taken him to
task on several occasions.
However, in speaking about why he
has resigned from the People’s Progressive Movement, Mr. Clifford made some
comments with which we very much agree.
Specifically, Mr. Clifford said he
believes Cayman has adopted the wrong model of party politics. He also thinks
the way party politics was born here – out of the so-called coup in November
2001 – has led to the parties becoming dysfunctional. We agree on both points.
In our view, party politics has
been too polarising in the Cayman Islands and has offered little in the way of
benefits to the Caymanian people. Like
Mr. Clifford, we believe that having the structure of political organisation is
a good thing, but the antagonistic model of Cayman’s party politics is just too
corrosive for such a small, close-knit community.
It’s true that Cayman’s Westminster
style of government has always been adversarial in nature, but it has been even
more so since the advent of political parties. The polarisation has led to
legislators – who have historically been very independent-minded – going
against their own beliefs in order to toe the party line. It has also led to a
spill-over of the “us against them” attitude into the general public. This
attitude is not only apparent in politics, but in Caymanian-expatriate relations
Another problem is that Cayman’s
political parties are more defined by personalities – and personality clashes –
rather than ideologies. Ironically, in this regard, Mr. Clifford was no better
than other members of the current political parties.
For these and other reasons, we
feel the Caymanian public needs to seriously consider the consequences of
having the UDP and PPM as the only political parties going forward.
Although we don’t buy Mr.
Clifford’s claims that he hasn’t decided his future role – or at least the role
he’d like to play – in politics, we’re pretty sure by his comments that he’d
like to see the formation of more political parties in the Cayman Islands, with
some new blood behind them. With that desire, we are in complete agreement.