“Effectively performing this role demands dedication on the part of a committed team. It has become increasingly clear that the level of cohesion, industry and commitment necessary for any opposition to serve in the best interest of all the people of these Islands is not possible given the current slate of independent members who made up the group.”
– Outgoing Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller
“In effect the country is witnessing firsthand why it is not practical for a group of Independent candidates to get elected and then seek to come together in the country’s interest. They are too busy pursuing their own individual agendas to even try to develop a shared view.”
– Premier Alden McLaughlin
We have not always agreed with North Side MLA Ezzard Miller’s opinions and priorities as Leader of the Opposition. But he clearly has had our islands’ best interests at heart.
As Opposition Leader, he was a frequent communicator with the press, and thereby the public. As chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, a position he will also relinquish, he asked pointed questions in the pursuit of “robust, constructive opposition as integral to the democratic functioning of government”, as he characterized it in his resignation on 2 May.
From all outward appearances, Miller did his best to lead an opposition group comprised of independent-minded Legislative Assembly members (himself, included) – a task that was doubtless made more difficult by the fact that his group was not bound by or beholden to any particular party platform.
But we disagree with Premier Alden McLaughlin that the opposition’s current leadership shakeup demonstrates that lawmakers can “come together in the country’s interest” only under the umbrella of an established political party. If anyone, the Premier, himself the leader of a coalition government that includes United Democratic Party, People’s Progressive Movement and independent members, should know that does not have to be the case.
In recent elections, voters have increasingly been opting for independent candidates. Why that is, or whether it will hold true in future elections, we do not pretend to know.
But we do know that all MLAs, once elected, are duty-bound to serve the people of the Cayman Islands – not a particular party – to the best of their abilities. Whether they do so by aligning themselves with the Premier or with the Opposition, there is no reason independent candidates cannot work together to do the job.
That is what we would expect of Miller after he officially steps down at the end of the month, continuing as MLA for North Side, and of the rest of the Opposition.
In choosing their new leader, Opposition members would do well to remember not only their responsibilities to their constituents, but also their obligations under the Constitution, and their vital, irreplaceable role as a team.