Former Opposition leader Ezzard Miller is pushing ahead with plans for a new political party which he hopes to lead into the next election.
Miller will meet with around 30 people next week as he begins to put the party machinery together with the aim of running a slate of 19 candidates at the 2021 general election.
Miller, who resigned as official opposition leader last month, had initially sought to recruit some of his colleagues on the opposition benches into the party. But he said the rift which led to his resignation was now too great to bridge and he will look outside of the current crop of MLAs to put the new group together.
The planned party is provisionally called the Cayman Islands People’s Alliance.
Miller said its guiding principles would be participatory democracy, integrity and transparency. He said the 30 people invited to next week’s meeting had expressed an interest in being involved and all shared concerns about the direction of the country under the current leadership.
Though he led a team of independents as opposition leader, Miller said the experience has taught him that the organisation and unity of a political party is the only way to govern effectively.
He said the unification of the two main parties, Alden McLaughlin’s Progressives and McKeeva Bush’s Cayman Democratic Party, into one government, meant there was a vacuum for a new organisation to emerge providing credible alternatives. Having worked together for four years, he said, it would be impossible for the CDP and the PPM to run against each other with any credibility at the next election.
He accepted that others may seek to form parties or alliances before the vote, but he believes he is best placed to fill that niche and is starting early in an effort to be ready for the national ballot in two years.
“I believe I have a certain island-wide political currency, and I believe I have respect in most communities around the island,” he said. “It is not something I am going to do alone. The whole purpose is to get people on board to assist in putting this together.”
He said the group would put together district committees that would be responsible for canvassing communities, selecting candidates and putting together a manifesto. He hopes those committees can also function as an avenue to support any MLAs that are ultimately elected in reflecting the views of the community in their policymaking.
Despite disagreements over policy and direction, Miller says he agrees with Premier McLaughlin that it is difficult for a group of independents elected on different platforms to compete against an organised political party to win the government.
“In 2013 and 2017, neither party had a majority,” he said, “but the PPM was able to put together a government because of their party discipline and structure.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with maintaining an independent position on certain things, but we must be able to come together with a joint manifesto.”