Editorial for 31 October: Your flag, our rules

The United Kingdom’s recently-launched review (again) of the relationship between itself and its remaining overseas territories seeks to determine “the best way forward” for the partnership over the next couple of decades.

The Caymanian Compass will be releasing some poll data later in the week that will show – perhaps surprisingly so – how few people believe this country will ever become a completely free and independent state.

Yet, in the view of many, including Premier McKeeva Bush, independence for Cayman is unavoidable at some point in the future. When that will occur is anybody’s guess.

Cayman is in quite a difficult situation with regard to its political future. We seem to be stuck at an impasse, loathing to stay but dreading to leave our long refuge under the Union Jack.

From a UK perspective, Cayman operating under a UK flag and UK rules is fine, Cayman operating under its own flag and its own rules is fine, Cayman operating under its flag with UK rules is fine. However, the situation that cannot be tolerated from the view of the administering powers is the one where Cayman operates under the UK flag with a set of rules entirely its own.

Constitutional scholars like Dr. Carlyle Corbin will often state that United Nations guidelines do allow for free associative states – similar to those once enjoyed by other territories in the Commonwealth.

The UK, however, will not allow such options – in clear defiance of UN resolutions – but that is still the reality.

Cayman will eventually be left with choices and there are, in practical sense, only two. In a polite way, what the United Kingdom seems to be telling us is that we can’t have it both ways; we can’t have their flag and our rules.

So, in the end we’re down to picking one flag or the other. It’s up to us to get all the information we can before making a final decision.


Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now


  1. I wish Cayman’s politicians were able to express themselves as clearly and succcinctly as this Editorial; sadly, they are inhibited by the I didn’t say the naughty word or You said it, not me.
    Whether or not independence is the wish of the majority of Caymanians – and that remains to be seen – let us have an open, informed discussion on what further constitutional change might mean; including aspects such as financial economic capacity, national identity, safeguarding individual rights against and within the State, effective separation of the executive and judiciary, an effective independent agency against corruption, etc, in a small country. There are several examples which warrant study: especially in the Caribbean, and elsewhere, for example Kiribati.

  2. When the administering power (in this case the UK)are doing their job (unlike what apparently happened in the Turks Caicos)they can be an effective check and balance against local corruption, dictatorial tendencies and poor governance.

    Caymanian politicians are no worse than anywhere else in the world. Politicians everywhere need to be controlled by institutionalized rules and protocols and by the people. Its the nature of the beast.

    We have benefitted tremendously from having ties with the UK for over 500 years, our language, laws and system of governnace to name just a few.

    I was in Jamaica recently and a poll in the local newspaper suggested that 75% of the population felt they would be better off if they had remained under the UK. This feeling was borne out by what i heard in a local rum shop as well.

    As long as we have an open transparent system where any problems on the local or UK sides can be seen and quickly corrected (both will make mistakes from time to time) and the UK do not abuse their power, we are better off remaining with close ties to the UK.

    Having said that, there are several independent countries that still retain the Union jack in the corner of their own flag.

  3. Che

    Excellent commentary; the most objective that I’ve read on this very emotional topic.

    What I find surprising is Caycompass’s subtle bias in support of independence for Cayman, although one has to read very carefully this excellent editorial to see that its there.

    Why I’m surprised at this is because Caycompass, over the years, has had an editorial policy that’s been mainly pro-status quo, although the editor might make some token protest at this opinion.

    The main point is that for the majority of people who matter, which are the voting Caymanians, independence from Britain has never been considered a wise option so why Caycompass is ‘surprised’ at their own poll results that proves this is puzzling to me;surely Caycompass knew these public sentiments before any poll was done.

    On your reference to Jamaica, I can vouch for what you have said regarding Jamaican sentiments on the issue of Jamaica’s independence and the current state of the country.

    Having grown up in the Jamaican school system in the years following Jamaica’s independence, I experienced the euphoria and pride of Jamaica’s emotional reaction to independence and the hopes and aspirations that it brought…

    Until reality set in not even 10 years and 2 elections after…and my family are heavily connected by blood lines and marriage to the Jamaican political system so I can speak from direct knowledge of that era by experience.

    This independence issue will always be an emotive one in which people’s opinions will be swayed by other than rationality…until the time comes for that vote to be cast.

    There seem to be some people who do not wish to recognise that Jamaica is the best example that the Cayman Islands has to realise why independence for Cayman is NOT a good idea.

    Maybe those people do not have the personal connection to Jamaica and its history and people to which you have referred.

    If my one small voice can count for anything, I hope that for the sake of my family who continue to live in Cayman…

    That those people continue to be a small minority.

    Once that independence gate is open and the horse has bolted, there is no going back as myself and many of the people of Jamaica will remind those in Cayman who might think differently.

  4. The only thing I can see that would push the Cayman islanders to vote for independence would be a ruling from the UK that Cayman must also abide by the laws that allow EU citizens to reside and work where they please, with Cayman being a part of the EU.

    I don’t see that happening any time soon, but should the islands be seen as not worth the time and effort, that might be the way the UK goes, to force a vote.

    In the mean time all Caymanian voters should be encouraged to speak up, and hold on tight to the mother country. As firery said, you only have to look at Jamaica, and once that horse is out of the barn there will be no getting it back.

  5. Firery – it is a well written balanced editorial – because I do not see the bias you are talking about. If anything the editorial reminds us about Jamaica and advises us to be well informed about issues before any decision is made. How that subtly translates to bias for independence I do not see!

  6. Onwards and Upwards

    It is a well-written editorial…I disagree with you that it is a well-balanced one.

    After reading it again, in responding to your post…I’m even now more aware of its implications…and these are…to paraphrase the articles very own words…

    The Caymanian Compass will be releasing some poll data later in the week that will show perhaps surprisingly so how few people believe this country will ever become a completely free and independent state. (quote)

    Why would the poll results be surprising, except to who might have been expecting or hoping for a different result…no-independence has been the will of the Caymanian people for generations and has clearly been expressed over and over again, when the question has been raised.

    So, in the end we’re down to picking one flag or the other. It’s up to us to get all the information we can before making a final decision.(quote)

    From this editorial, Caycompass is drawing on Cayman’s current premiere, McKeeva Bush’s opinion that independence is inevitable for the Cayman Islands…and in effect agreeing with him but…the poll results show that public opinions and Bush’s opinions are completely opposite to each other…

    and that is McKeeva Bush’s personal opinion; he is not speaking for the CI Government or his political party.

    This is the clearest statement showing Caycompass’s position on this issue…the reality is that the majority of Cayman’s people chose that one flag in 1962, when Cayman was either going to become an official parish of Jamaica, under the Jamaican flag as it had been an administrative part of the parish of Westmoreland up until then…there has been no sugggestion until now, that any other flag should be an option…Cayman’s choice was made then.

    The issue of the country’s major newspaper influencing public opinion on this matter has to be taken into account…this is a democratic country where the people and press are free to express their opinions.

    Again, using Jamaica as an example…a large percentage of the Jamaican people were not in favour of independence in 1962 either but the editorial position of the country’s main daily newspaper, the Daily Gleaner, was literally the mouthpiece of the Jamaica Labour Party, the party that assumed the post-independence government of Jamaica…if you knew me personally, you would know that I would know this very very well.

    The element of press involvement and even manipulation of public opinion can and should never be ruled out when it is clearly present in major political decisions.

    The gist of this editorial speaks volumes for itself.