MLA Connolly leaves Progressives caucus, says he’s ‘not a politician’

Winston Connolly says he will leave the Progressives caucus.
MLA Winston Connolly says he will leave the Progressives caucus.

George Town MLA Winston Connolly announced late Monday that he will no longer be a member of the Progressives political party caucus and is resigning as a government councillor.

Mr. Connolly previously said he intended to remain as a government backbench member, but the statement released Monday did not confirm that.

“People need to come ahead of parties,” Mr. Connolly said in an emailed statement on Monday. “People need to come ahead of politics. I am here to serve the people, not the parties.

“Going forward as an independent, I feel I will be in a better position to raise the pressing and important issues facing our beloved Cayman Islands.”

The political caucus of the Progressives is essentially the brain trust of the party organization, consisting of elected and unelected representatives. It meets every Monday in private discussions in which all attendees are allowed to voice their opinions on the subjects under consideration.

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In the past, Progressives party members and the three independent lawmakers who make up the government coalition attended these meetings. Recently, George Town MLA Roy McTaggart joined the Progressives after serving his first two-and-a-half years as an independent. Education Minister Tara Rivers, also an independent, attends the meetings.

In his statement Monday, Mr. Connolly indicated that in addition to skipping caucus meetings, his vote in Legislative Assembly should not be considered a safe one for the Progressives going forward.

“I will support the government in whatever I believe is in the best interest of these islands and my people,” he said. “I am here to be a voice for the people and I will be an independent voice, standing firmly in opposition to any proposals that go against their best interests.

“It is now clear to me that I would better serve them and the country if I were not a councillor. I realised that I’m not a politician. I’m just an ordinary Caymanian who serves his community as a member of the Legislative Assembly.”

Mr. Connolly had been a counsellor in the Ministry of Education, Employment and Gender Affairs.

Earlier this month, the Compass asked Mr. Connolly if was considering a move from the government backbench, along with former Progressives members MLA Alva Suckoo and MLA Anthony Eden.

At the time Mr. Connolly said, “I am still with the government on the backbench.”

“I also have no plans to join [the Progressives] and will remain an independent MLA until the people of George Town remove me or I decide not to run again, whichever comes first,” he said.

If Mr. Connolly does not stay on the backbench, it will leave the ruling Progressives party with nine members, including Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly. Minister Rivers would make up the government’s 10th member as an independent, giving them the slimmest of majorities.

Premier Alden McLaughlin was contacted Monday for comment on Mr. Connolly’s announcement, but no response had been received by press time.

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