We recently reviewed the PPM’s so-called “manifesto” for the 2013 election and counted up more than 200 promises and pledges they made to the voters. These ranged from the unmeasurable (“Promote pride in home ownership”) to the trivial (“Consider removing or reducing the duty on musical instruments”). One promise (“Rolling back the more damaging tax hike as soon as possible”) apparently was so important it was listed three times.
In the public square and on talk radio, there is currently considerable unhappiness with the Progressives’ backing away from their campaign promises to implement “one man, one vote” and single-member districts within its first year in power, and to implement a minimum wage.
When politicians trade promises for votes — and then don’t deliver — the electorate collectively feels like suckers; and that can have serious political consequences. (Note FORMER U.S. President George H. W. Bush’s no-new-tax pledge, “Read my lips,” or President Barack Obama’s pledge, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep your healthcare plan. Period.”)
Citing their promise to pass a National Conservation Law, the Progressives rushed a bill through the Legislative Assembly before their arbitrary and artificial deadline of Dec. 31, 2013, even though it meant hastily rewriting and watering down the bill on the floor of Parliament. Judging by the scores of amendments to the legislation at the eleventh hour, apparently it didn’t much matter what was actually in the conservation law, so long as one was passed.
Some people are now arguing that the Progressives’ promise to keep a landfill out of the district of Bodden Town supersedes the government’s responsibilities to the other districts on Grand Cayman. According to their promise, upon election the PPM walked away from the Dart Group’s proposal to begin the 30-year-old process anew.
On Friday, government minister Osbourne Bodden told colleagues in the Legislative Assembly that the Progressives are seeking an on-site remedy for the George Town landfill, with the minister’s preference being a waste-to-energy solution.
Minister Bodden, don’t waste your own energy.
An on-site waste-to-energy solution for the George Town landfill will likely cost $100 million or more, plus $20 million or so per year to operate — not including the costs to acquire adjacent property and create new landfill cells for disposal of ash. That’s according to the 2008 report from consultants to the previous PPM government. The country didn’t have the money to pursue the project then, and it certainly doesn’t have it now.
This government, which includes not only PPM, but C4C candidates, is hemmed in on all sides by promises made by the PPM party that were conveniently made — and equally conveniently abandoned.
The only comfort for the PPM is that it is unlikely many voters actually read the manifesto and, of those who did, probably very few believed their promises.
Perhaps the solution going forward is for candidates to make fewer, more thoughtful, promises and only ones they intend to keep.
In fact, we are drawn to the idea that candidates make no campaign promises whatsoever — other than to do their best.