Former PPM ministers Wayne Panton and Osbourne Bodden have resigned from the People’s Progressive Party.
Over the weekend, the two founding members tendered their resignations from the party, which is led by Premier Alden McLaughlin, citing dissatisfaction with the direction it was heading.
Neither man has been politically active in the party since their defeat in the 2017 elections.
Bodden is no stranger to conflict within the Progressives. He found himself in hot water early in his tenure as health minister under the PPM’s 2013 administration, when he shouted at then Chief Officer Jennifer Ahearn, calling her ‘driftwood’. McLaughlin, at that time, stood by Bodden, opting not to fire him and instead giving him the Community Affairs portfolio, with McLaughlin taking over as health minister.
This is not the first time Bodden has left the party – he quit in 2009 after losing his seat and then rejoined the party in order to contest the 2013 elections.
Both men’s resignations come at a time when the premier and his administration have been on the receiving end of criticism, especially in the wake of assault allegations levelled against House Speaker McKeeva Bush last month.
Bush, who is alleged to have been involved in an assault on the female manager at the Coral Beach bar on West Bay Road on 21 Feb., has taken a leave of absence from his Speaker role.
Police have declined to provide any updates on the investigation, except to say it is ongoing and progressing. There have been no arrests or charges in the matter.
Panton, a former finance minister who is now chairman of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority board, was present at a recent #sheissupported protest at the old Glass House, which was held to show the public’s support for the alleged victim and call on government to take action.
Panton, speaking with the Cayman Compass on his resignation from the party he helped form – and also financially supported – said, “It was time to accept that the we do not appear to share the same principles and values, sense of justice and perspective, on what is best for the longer term interest of our country.”
He added, “Recent events, which are very sad for the country, have personally made a very difficult decision easier.” Panton has also been seen at protests against the $200 million cruise berthing and cargo project.
Bodden, in a brief comment to the Compass on his departure, said, “The PPM is no longer an effective political party to my mind, and, sadly, was sacrificed for political expediency … that is not what I signed up for, nor do I subscribe to.”
He said the same expediency is “now haunting what was a perfectly good political organisation, formed for the right reason … For love of country.”
While neither man disclosed what their political future holds, Bodden said although retirement beckons, “that same love of country burns deep in my soul, and I guess we will see what the future holds. With the right people, right goals and focus, who knows? The good Lord always has the final say and I will be guided accordingly.”
The Compass reached out to McLaughlin for comment. The premier said neither Panton nor Bodden has contacted him, but added, “I am being made to understand that they’ve left to start a new political movement and I wish them well.”