Cayman Islands Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush said Wednesday that he feels aggrieved by recent allegations about a “campaign of destabilization” being waged against the Progressives-led government.
“As opposition leader, I have not connived with the independent opposition [referring to East End MLA Arden McLean and North Side MLA Ezzard Miller], or they with me,” Mr. Bush said in a letter to the Caymanian Compass this week. “Fact is, the independent opposition has raised more motions to give the government ‘stick’ on the things they feel the government needs to adhere to as they promised in the campaign.”
Mr. Bush’s comments came following an article published in the Caymanian Compass, in which government backbench MLA Alva Suckoo accused opposition members, and the Mr. Bush-led opposition party particularly of waging a “campaign of destabilization” against the ruling government.
“I am now aware that certain individuals, knowing my relationship with my friends from East End and North Side [Messrs. McLean and Miller], are attempting to use my relationship with these two gentlemen to take shots at the government and to ‘pick me off,’ Mr. Suckoo wrote in a letter sent to the local media earlier this month. “I encourage the members from East End and North Side to reject the current campaign of destabilization perpetrated by those selfish individuals who do not want to take the same approach that I have.
“It’s a non-stop barrage of negativity aimed at the government right now,” Mr. Suckoo said in a later interview with the Caymanian Compass. “The entire country is sick of the old way of doing politics, under which, in my mind, you don’t accomplish 50 percent of what you could have.” Mr. Bush, who said he met with Mr. Suckoo about those comments in the newspaper, accused Premier Alden McLaughlin of putting words into his junior government member’s mouth.
“The premier made Mr. Suckoo blame me and accuse me of destabilizing the country,” Mr. Bush wrote in the letter to the Compass. “I really am shocked at the accusation.” Premier McLaughlin’s office was contacted for comment about Mr. Bush’s letter. The Compass had not received a response by press time Wednesday.
“I am quite surprised at [the Compass article] … with the remarks by the four government backbenchers seeking to lay the blame on me for their ‘missteps,’ ‘conscience votes,’ or ‘outrage votes’ against their party,” Mr. Bush wrote .”I cannot believe that they are that naïve to think that the public does not listen, does not read and cannot figure out that there is disgruntlement amongst their party members.
“I have treated the new members with due respect … giving them fair advice, as much as possible, as the senior member of the House. I have never encouraged them to leave their party or go against it.”
In addition to Mr. Suckoo, the three government backbenchers referred to by Mr. Bush were George Town MLAs Joey Hew, Winston Connolly and Roy McTaggart. The three expressed different views when asked about recent motions filed by Messrs. McLean and Miller seeking the enactment of a different voting system in Cayman and the passage of a motion supporting all recommendations in a recent report on whistleblower protection from the complaints commissioner’s office.
It was the private members motion filed by Mr. McLean that first showed some division in Cayman’s coalition government over the issue of “one man, one vote” single-member constituent districts. The motion, which sought government adoption of such a voting system within three months, ended in a rare tie vote with Mr. Suckoo and fellow Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden jumping ship and voting for Mr. McLean’s proposal against the government.
Mr. McLean said much has been made about a veteran lawmaker “taking advantage” of the first-timers during the vote on that motion, but he said he had no idea things were going to turn out as they did.
George Town MLA Hew disagreed. “There’s no doubt that a lot of these motions are being mischievous,” Mr. Hew said. “I think it is the opposition’s desire to break down the government rather than work with the government.”
His colleague Mr. Connolly viewed the situation as the opposition party doing what opposition parties do in politics, but saying there was some plan to destabilize the government was going too far.
George Town MLA McTaggart chalked up some of the results on the recent motions to rookie mistakes.
“I have treated the new members with due respect … I have never encouraged them to leave their party or go against it.”
McKeeva Bush, opposition leader