Connolly cannot get backing for ban on handouts

MLA says no support for motion

Independent legislator Winston Connolly has voiced his disappointment at the failure of his colleagues to support his calls for an end to the practice of politicians giving handouts to constituents. 

Saying he had been attacked as naïve, inexperienced and uncharitable for highlighting concerns, including the increased potential for vote buying in small single-member districts, Mr. Connolly insisted he would not back down. 

The George Town legislator said it was the job of politicians to ensure there was a well-run and properly funded benefits system to support the least fortunate, not to dig into their own pockets to give cash handouts to constituents. 

Speaking in the Legislative Assembly on Thursday, he said he was unable to get sufficient support for proposals to outlaw handouts and introduce term limits for politicians. 

“I would like it recorded that I brought them to this House and fought to put them in place as checks and balances to a system that could get out of control,” he said. 

Mr. Connolly defended his own record of supporting charity and insisted it was an important principle that legislators showed their support for the needy through laws and policies rather than personal handouts. 

“We have to concentrate our efforts on creating the best safety net we can, so those who truly need it can come forward and be assessed and assisted. If everyone can circumvent the system or if the system is slow or doesn’t work, then fix it. Don’t say the system is lousy so here is $50. Fix it.” 

Mr. Connolly said any politicians that wanted to offer help beyond the $50 million in public funds allocated for welfare programs, should do so by supporting charities, which he said were best placed to assess need without bias. 

He suggested that when politicians decided who got handouts and who did not, charity could be perceived as corruption. 

“That could easily turn from one ‘c’ word to another,” he said. 

Mr. Connolly said the “system of patronage” was so entrenched in the Cayman Islands that he had been labeled insensitive and uncaring for attempting to change it. 

He said he had a strong track record of supporting and helping charitable causes but insisted his role as a politician was to focus on improving the system rather than giving personal handouts. 

“Our role is to help the pensioners that can’t afford their monthly bills by making the pension system better. 

“It is getting people skills and education so they can demand higher wages to fully participate in this economy. 

“It is making good deals and decisions so people aren’t crippled by monthly expenses. It is embracing change on things like renewable energy to bring down the cost of living. It is to ensure the immigration laws are enforced and there is equality of opportunity. It is moving the dump from the capital and making it something other than a political football. 

“It is about taking risks and unpopular decisions even if it costs us our seats. It is not to pay for mortgages and give money without obligations. If we were not in politics, would many of those giving daily still do so? Would they encourage people to come to their homes and offices and give handouts? 

“Then why is that the expectation when you get into politics or are campaigning for politics?” 

Mr. Connolly has also called for members of the Legislative Assembly to be restricted to three consecutive terms in office, before taking a break of at least one term. 

In response to suggestions that the move would mean replacing experienced politicians with “green” new representatives, Mr. Connolly suggested that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing. 

“There is good experience and bad experience,” he said, citing the “huge mistakes” of “experienced politicians” in running up enormous national debts as the reason he got into politics in the first place. 

He added, “Experience sometimes allows you just to be smart enough to keep your job, not do your job.” 

Mr. Connolly

Mr. Connolly

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  1. While I support Mr. Connolly in his push to change the handout culture and to implement term limits the reality is that he should have been aware that he would get very little support for these things from his fellow politicians. Maybe the best he can hope to accomplish is to get each MP on record stating their position on these issues.

  2. The continuing practice of handouts by members of the LA = vote buying. I’m guessing none of those persons have given handouts to expats or those with student visas since they cannot vote. Not having term limits is just another form of corruption.

  3. Very well said Mr. Connolly but you know that this would not be accepted in the House. Cayman Brac representative(s) could not survive without this "bargains no power" along with I know a number of their Grand Cayman counterparts. If you take this away from them then they would only last one term and your other motion for time restricted terms would not be needed

  4. Skirting the issue of vote buying, Mr Connolly’s statements peers in the questionable areas of perception. Much like the perception where politicians campaign funding could have the inklings of influence buying. OK’ lets see those numbers, and cap those campaign spending. Wait’ matching funds anyone, we must have balance!.. What a politician do with (HIS) money is his business. What a politician do with other people money is our business.

  5. Mr Connolly trust me when I say bringing that motion would cut your voting popularity in half with the people.
    Again it is something people look forward to that they are considered for a Turkey, Ham or fruit basket at Christmas or a 50.00 food card now and then. There are People who need that, and they deserve it, and I do not call that vote buying. If you and others are down right mean and making about $10,000.00 a month and really expecting people to give you all their vote for free? "Nothing is free my friend" So all the mean persons might as well save $9,000.00 and change up the other 1,000.00 in Foster Food cards and start giving them away. Come 2017, politicians will be crawling up peoples front door for the one X that can get them in. My suggestion start saving for it. Before you all got into the house you was not making that kind of money. After the people voted you were able to buy big boat, expensive cars, new house and the list go on; and what did your voter get for that final X that put you all in? Did nothing that they could make money in their district and gave them nothing? " The X’s has never been free" No matter whether they came with a bow or services rendered, money due and owing.

  6. I find it extraordinary that there is even a debate about this. Democracy is defined as equal rights to each voter, and the winner is the one that convinces the most voters by his policies that he should govern.
    Vote buying in whatever form is illegal in most democracies and should be so here. In times past, large employers or landowners were able to tell their employees how to vote, others bribed with goods or money. All of those methods pervert proper democracy.
    To talk of votes being worth money, and seemingly because the MLA can make money from his position is perverse, the start point is that the MLA should be there because he wants to serve his voter, not pay him to enable him to make money!
    Yes, there are people who are in need, and it is the duty of government to help them, but not in return for cash for votes!

  7. Twyla, I cannot believe you wrote that comment.

    You are clearly an intelligent lady, and if you cannot see this as a blatant, entrenched, serious form of corruption, then I’m shocked. – Whilst there may well be people who are in need of support, this support should come through official, recognised channels.

    All this process is is vote buying, and to say anything else is just plain wrong.

    I have a lot of respect for Mr Connolly, as a lot of other posters have pointed out, this attempt of his is unlikely to yield immediate results, but remember,

    ”The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.

    Make no mistake, corruption is evil, which is why in many other countries politicians have made strides to wipe it out….Just saying

  8. Irony – this coming from the same Connolly who spoke so divisively last week about expats and how " real " Caymanians needed to be promoted more ( regardless of ability or merit, apparently ). This argument seems hollow now, doesn’t it when a populace has become dependent on government and told they are entitled to pocket cash, driveway paving, refrigerators, health care, job security, jobs outside areas of expertise, etc, their whole life by pandering politicians bent on allowing the country’s people to play the victim role. Cheap populist appeals will always play to those looking to cast blame for their lot in life.

  9. James yes, believe it I wrote that comment because I live in the real world where I see the bad the good and the ugly.
    Being intelligent has nothing to do with what I see and hear every day and letting people know about it.
    If you are not siting side by side with some of these people you will never guess what is really taking place; but that is the problem people in HIGH places does not take the opportunity to listen to the little man on the street I do, that is why I can relate.