There was a not-so-subtle change in the winds of Cayman’s politics noted by most observers – including this Observer – during Alden McLaughlin’s acceptance of the People’s Progressive Movement’s leadership position on 12 February.
“There is little doubt in my mind that [anti-expatriate claims] played a role in our defeat at the polls in 2009,” McLaughlin said during the Saturday evening meeting. “I want to assure everyone…there is no bigotry in the PPM, we are only anti-bad government.”
McLaughlin said that the view of the PPM as militantly anti-foreigner is one spread by its political enemies and that it is simply not true. He said the party had not been vocal enough about combating these perceptions and claims in the past.
However, one of the major political issues that led to the PPM’s rise to power in government during the May 2005 vote was public sentiment against 2,850 grants of Caymanian status handed out by Cabinet during the previous United Democratic Party government in 2003.
For the next general election (presumably to be held in May 2013) it seems that the People’s Progressive Movement will seek to be the party of inclusion.
McLaughlin publicly invited anyone with a keen interest in Cayman – even non-voters, even work permit holders who have been here for at least five years – to join the ranks.
This is an interesting position for the new party leader to take, and probably something of a gamble. If the perceived base of the PPM voters does indeed turn out to be anti-expatriate, it could well be a losing wager that might cost the party voters.
On the other hand, if McLaughlin is correct, the PPM will add new strength as it heads into the next election.
In any case, we at the Observer on Sunday believe that the position McLaughlin has taken is the correct one. There is no point in having a society with more than 100 nationalities where everyone is at each others’ throats all the time.
We believe there has been too much emphasis on the problems caused by, and not enough done to accentuate the advantages of having many different views, languages and peoples in a country our size.
In the end, we’re all sort of stuck with one another; at least for the foreseeable future anyway; might as well make the best of it.