The revamped United Democratic Party’s political strategy and a few more of its candidates were revealed Tuesday night in Bodden Town during a public meeting.
Former Premier McKeeva Bush tried to lump members of the People’s Progressive Movement and the political group Coalition for Cayman together, painting his UDP as the only other alternative.
“You know who they are, whatever banner they decide to disguise themselves with; PPM or coalition for cash,” Mr. Bush said. “They’re all members of the same group.
“If you do not listen and you go into a position with people who say that they don’t know who they’re going to serve with, but they’re going to serve; they don’t know what kind of policies they’re going to put together when they get elected, but they’re going to get elected… we are going within two years to fail, and I’ll tell you this country does not have much more time than two years when people are going to start walking away again.”
The criticism is one that PPM members have sought to proactively address, with party chairman Anton Duckworth in December explaining what he believes were key differences between the PPM and the coalition group.
Mr. Duckworth fired some broadsides at the coalition in early December.
“It appears to me that the [Coalition for Cayman] 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.
Mr. Bush struck a somewhat similar note on Tuesday night in Bodden Town, but with different emphasis.
“Don’t you fool yourselves about all these people running out of the woodwork about they’re going to run and they’ve made their money,” Mr. Bush said. “Yes, they’ve made their money, what in the world did they do for these Islands?
“Others have lived it up, made their money, now they want to come and run the country. They’ll put us where they had us in the [1940s]. You should not give one of them a chance. As for those people who say that they don’t want parties, you know what they want. They want you back where you were in the ‘40s, where you ironed the clothes, where you cut the grass… no, a thousand times no.”
PPM leader Alden McLaughlin said Mr. Bush’s claims about the C4C-PPM link were “ludicrous”.
“The Progressives are not the party of the moneyed, we never have been,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “We are not owned or controlled by big business. We are and have always been the party of the people.
“Mr. Bush appears to have forgotten his recent connection to many of the [coalition] candidates. He needs to recall who he appointed as chairman of Cayman Airways when he took office in 2009, who he supported to chair the Constitution Commission, who he appointed to chair the Financial Services Council and who he appointed to the various Immigration Boards. The records will show that these individuals are now [coalition] candidates.”
During Tuesday night’s public meeting held outside the Bodden Town post office, Mr. Bush announced what he termed “good news” – that Jonathan Piercy would again be seeking election with the UDP in George Town.
Mr. Piercy ran with the UDP in 2009, but was unsuccessful.
Also, joining the UDP group on stage Tuesday night was attorney Theresa Pitcairn, who spoke in support of the party. Ms Pitcairn ran in Bodden Town as an independent candidate in 2009 and was also not successful. She did not explicitly state Tuesday whether she would not join with the UDP for 2013, but it is expected she will be a candidate.
UDP Bodden Town chapter chairman Chris Saunders, who has also been named as a candidate in the district, set out some of the positions he said the party would support if elected to run the government after May.
Mr. Saunders said the UDP would seek to “regulate the price of fuel in these Islands” and expand the offerings of the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company with an eye to improving choice and potentially reducing healthcare costs. Mr. Saunders also promised that the UDP would not agree to cutting public servants’ jobs any further.
The sentiment was echoed by Mr. Bush: “You can see… by the papers the other day that they are now moving in a direction, that I wouldn’t let them. It seems like that they are going hell-bent now to remove civil servants, I don’t know how they’re going to do it, we’ll see.”
Mr. Saunders also said it was a “misconception” that government could run like a business, because departments like police, fire, public works and the like could not reasonably be expected to make a profit.