Although it may not be entirely clear yet where each of the political groups vying for the 2013 general election stand on specific issues, their political strategies clarified quite a bit last week.
People’s Progressive Movement Chairman Anton Duckworth fired the first salvo across the bow of the ruling United Democratic Party government, stating that a vote for the current UDP representatives was a vote for what he referred to as “one man rule”.
“It is not a good system; even if the one man were wise and enlightened, it would not be a good system.,” Mr. Duckworth said. “Bush-rule has caused deep divisions in this country, it stinks of corruption and patronage, it conceals the truth. It has harmed the country’s reputation abroad.”
“No one has ever accused the PPM government of corruption … or of being in anyone’s pocket,” the PPM chairman continued. “It is a grassroots movement, a coming together of ordinary people chafed at the demands of Bush rule, determined to find a better way.”
So, if the PPM or the Progressives, as they are now calling themselves, are to be the anti-Premier Bush campaigners, what happens if Mr. Bush is no longer the premier?
In the Caymanian Compass Friday editions, Mr. Bush raised the possibility, admitting he had made a statement hinting at that in the United Kingdom last Tuesday.
“I said that I didn’t know if I would be seeking executive office,” Mr. Bush said on Thursday during a telephone interview. “I said I was tired, that I had a distinct disrespect and weariness of the atmosphere existing in the relationship with the governor’s office and the UK that I am put through today because of the financial mess left by [Opposition Leader] Alden McLaughlin and the PPM. I said I was praying about the decision, but I would decide by the time of the party conference in January.”
Even if such a decision were made, Mr. Bush said he would still seek office in West Bay as a district representative.
The United Democratic Party has not made clear its full list of candidates ahead of the May 2013 vote, but rumours abound that at least one of the party’s existing legislators in the West Bay district will not seek office again.
In any case, the Progressives can hardly expect to be spared the lash of Mr. Bush’s tongue in the coming months.
“Whether I’m seeking executive office or not, if the country wants to get ahead, it had better leave [Opposition Leader] Alden McLaughlin behind, because the country cannot deal with four more years of his arrogance, bullying, borrowing, spending and mismanagement,” Mr. Bush said.
Mr. McLaughlin didn’t take much stock in Mr. Bush saying he might not seek to be premier again.
“More likely than not, it is just one of Mr. Bush’s political stunts,” he said.
The Coalition for Cayman, which is being called “the third political party” by both the UDP and the Progressives, launched their own attacks Thursday night in a statement; referring to Cayman’s two-party democratic system as a “partisan dictatorship”.
“The Coalition for Cayman is committed to endorsing fiscally-responsible, proven accountable leadership to provide government services without risking further financial burden on citizens and businesses,” the unsigned statement from the coalition, which also refers to itself as C4C, read. “There are many Caymanians who previously supported the registered parties who are frustrated with the state of our country.”
Mr. Duckworth, perhaps a bit unexpectedly, had fired some broadsides at the C4C on Wednesday and the coalition issued its statements in response.
“It appears to me that the C4C group are trying to use their money to engineer a government over which they can exercise influence and control,” he said during a meeting of the Progressives party leadership on Wednesday. “That’s the bad old game of money buying power; a game which the People’s Progressive Movement has always refused to play.”
Mr. Duckworth said, assuming the coalition group gets some candidates together ahead of the May 2013 general elections, Cayman Islands voters would have a clear choice.
“The choice is between one-man rule of the United Democratic Party, government by elected representatives – the Progressives, or government under the control and influence of unelected people in the C4C,” he said.
Just this week, the Coalition for Cayman announced members of its executive committee and made public some ground rules for membership in that committee. James Bergstrom and Jude Scott were named as coalition co-chairmen. Kris Bergstrom, Clarence Bothwell, JC Calhoun, Jacqueline Haynes, Randy Merren, Johann Moxam, Gary Rutty and Emmiel Scott were all named as committee members.
“If the C4C group wants power, they should put themselves forward as candidates for government,” Mr. Duckworth said. “In truth, the issues for voters are not whether they want government by a political party. The real issue is which of these groups will give the country the kind of leadership that it needs.”
The C4C group released a statement earlier in the week, blasting the political parties, which it says have scarce differences between them.
“Often a political party’s single goal is to take control (or maintain control) of the government for their own benefit, because anything short of that will leave them powerless and in their minds without a voice,” the C4C statement read.
“Despite their most desperate messages, the current state of our country’s affairs speaks to the dangers of giving any one party too much control. We have seen the evidence of this over the last decade.
“Under both parties’ leadership, our country has incurred record debt – in fact, today every citizen of Cayman is responsible for $30,000 of our country’s national debt. Without checks and balances offered by independent leaders in our LA, the UDP has nearly spent our country into bankruptcy, and their excessive borrowing has forced us into noncompliance with our country’s public finance laws – creating an unnecessarily tense relationship with the UK.”