Alden: Campaign begins now

George
Town MLA Alden McLaughlin was confirmed Saturday night as the new leader of the
opposition People’s Progressive Movement political party, replacing fellow MLA
Kurt TIbbetts who announced his intention to step aside in October.

Mr.
McLaughlin used his first speech as party leader at the Mary Miller hall to
signal that the times must change for Cayman’s opposition group if it is to
survive and thrive.  

“We
must dispel the notion that the choice for leadership of this country is
between those who are weak and right and those that are strong and wrong,” he
said to the audience of more than 200 that gathered for the three-hour event.

The
lawyer and former education minister said that the PPM would seek to redefine
itself over the course of the next two years as the political party of
inclusion. He admitted that detractors’ frequent assertions about the PPM being
the ‘anti-expat’ party had cost the group dearly in Cayman’s 2009 general
elections.

In
that vote, the party lost half its Legislative Assembly seats and control of
the government.

“There
is little doubt in my mind that [anti-expatriate claims] played a role in our
defeat at the polls in 2009,” he said.

Mr.
McLaughlin said he would counter that perception by inviting anyone who had
been legally resident in Cayman for at least five years – including work permit
holders – to join up with PPM 

“I
want to assure everyone…there is no bigotry in the PPM, we are only anti-bad
government,” he said.

Moreover,
Mr. McLaughlin addressed often unspoken concerns about his party’s relevance on
political issues – particularly with young voters.

“I
understand that it is not that you don’t care about politics,” Mr. McLaughlin
said, speaking to the younger members of Saturday’s audience. “Rather, you
believe that it is the older people…don’t care about your politics.”

“I
care about your views, the PPM cares about the issues that are important to
you. I understand that there has to be a fundamental shift.”

Mr.
McLaughlin said he believes the PPM lost the 2009 elections largely because of
its own failings as an organisation; not because the victorious United
Democratic Party was the better choice. 

The
problem the opposition party now has, Mr. McLaughlin said, is that voters could
opt for a third choice – independent candidates – in 2013.

“At
present, the PPM is not automatically the people’s choice,” he said. “Many of
you here would not like me to say that, but I believe it to be true.”

The
new PPM leader said now was the time to start the campaign for the 2013 general
elections, which are expected in May.

“Tonight
we have begun,” he said. “We must push and shout and agitate and do whatever we
have to do to be part of the national debate.”

Please
see much more on this story in Monday’s editions of the Caymanian Compass…

1 COMMENT

  1. From our statistical reports – when PPM was in power we saw the highest increase in government revenue in the history of the Cayman Islands. At the same time, we saw government spending the most in its history. Revenue was in the hundreds of millions and expenditures were just below that. The PPM leaders concluded that they could continue with their spending until the following year despite the news of the U.S. recession. But after Hurrican Paloma and to their shock, a global tidal wave of recession impacting our tourism, in 2008 things turned sour, and our government expenditures sky-rocketed and left the Cayman Islands government with an 81 million deficit. As a result, in May, 2008, people elected the UDP government. Seeing that Alden was the same one in power back then, I just hope, I really hope that he has learnt a valuable lesson in terms of taking financial advisors seriously. I even recall McKeeva (their opponent) pleading to Kurt to slow down or stop the spending on schools, roads, and infrastructure, but they failed to do so. Not saying had they listened to McKeeva it would had made a difference, but as leaders, they should have had enough vision to see the effects of the global recession. I just hope Alden (Kurts right hand man) has learnt his lesson – it could just be (God Help Us) that he could just become the countries second Premier.