Political history dredged up

Both of Cayman’s major political parties have brought up the 2001 government “coup d’etat” in their debate over the current lack of confidence motion filed by Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin.

November 2001 marks the last time such a motion was brought against the ruling government. The 2001 motion helped foster the formation of today’s political parties, the United Democratic Party and the People’s Progressive Movement.

That earlier motion, brought by MLAs Rolston Anglin and Lyndon Martin, brought about the dissolution of what was essentially a coalition government led by then-Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts. Mr. Tibbetts and then-Minister Edna Moyle were removed from Cabinet by the motion and the fledgling UDP, led by current Premier McKeeva Bush, took over.

Mr. McLaughlin has pointed out that Mr. Anglin, who is now a government minister, has railed against him bringing the lack of confidence motion – even though Mr. Anglin did the same thing a decade ago. However, Mr. McLaughlin also pointed out the a new Cayman Islands Constitution has changed the rules since then, and that it is now harder for votes of ‘lack of confidence’ to succeed in either removing the leader of government or in calling for new elections.

“Under the 1972 Constitution, each minister was elected by his or her colleagues in the Legislative Assembly,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “As such each minister held office at the pleasure of the Legislative Assembly [and] the assembly could revoke a minister’s election to Cabinet if at least nine elected members of the house voted to do so.”

In the 2009 Constitution, the responsibility for ministers shifts to the premier. The governor is required to revoke a premier’s appointment only if a motion of the LA declares a lack of confidence in the government and gets support from at least two-thirds of the elected members of the house – in this case, 10 of 15 elected members.

“It is not possible for the house to vote to revoke the appointments of individual ministers,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

During a Tuesday night political meeting, Mr. Anglin noted one other key issue has changed. This time around, the opposition doesn’t have the votes for a lack of confidence motion to succeed, he said.

“When I moved the motion [of no confidence in 2001] I made sure I had the votes…I made sure I went to the governor to ensure I had a government in place to make sure the country was stable,” Mr. Anglin said. “It was not about me, it was not about Rolston Anglin. Mr. McLaughlin’s motion is about his arrogant leadership.”

UDP members have previously said that they would not support the ‘lack of confidence’ motion. In order for it to succeed, every member of the government backbench would have to vote yes. I’m not surprised the PPM can’t count….that is the long suit of the People’s Progressive Movement,” he said.

Mr. McLaughlin has never publicly stated which government members he believed would support the ‘lack of confidence’ motion, if any. “There is understandably considerable dissatisfaction and disillusionment within the government ranks,” Mr. McLaughlin said earlier this month. “We believe that there are a number of government members who understand that the leadership must change and this motion offers them the opportunity to make that happen.”