Newlands candidate Alva Suckoo has joined the Progressives alliance team, bringing to 12 the number of nominees running as part of the group in the 14 April general election.
Suckoo announced he was joining the group at the alliance’s campaign launch Saturday night, and made a surprise appearance on stage about an hour after the rally at the AL Thompson’s car park had gotten under way.
Suckoo was previously a member of the Progressives, before resigning from the party and joining the opposition in the Legislative Assembly in 2015 during a debate over same-sex marriage rights.
His plan to return to the Progressives fold had been hinted at for some time, but Suckoo said it was only made official after he got approval from his Newlands constituents at a meeting on Saturday evening.
The Newlands incumbent told the crowd assembled at the alliance campaign rally, “Why did I choose this alliance? You just have to look around. I don’t see many masks right now. This government has steered this country through the pandemic, it has protected our financial standing, it has protected our economy, kept our people safe, and saved lives.”
His message was one echoed by all the candidates speaking at the rally – that the Progressives-led government had kept the islands safe from the COVID-19 virus. Speakers asked if a government made up of disparate independents could have been cohesive enough to make the types of decisions Premier Alden McLaughlin’s administration had made since March when the first COVID case was reported in Cayman.
McLaughlin, speaking at the rally, described Suckoo as “the prodigal son” and he welcomed him home, before appealing to other candidates to also “come home” and join the alliance. He did not name specific individuals, but there are a number of former Progressives members running as independent candidates, including Wayne Panton, Heather Bodden and Osbourne Bodden.
New Progressives leadership
At the start of Saturday’s gathering, host and candidate Austin Harris introduced the Progressives’ new leader, the current finance minister Roy McTaggart, who was elected to the position at the party’s conference the night before.
Also at that conference, held at the Kimpton Seafire hotel on Friday, Joey Hew was elected as deputy leader and McLaughlin was named as the new party chairman.
McTaggart, who will be premier if the alliance wins a majority in the election, took to the podium to the pounding beat of Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’.
He told the crowd that the alliance’s main aim in its manifesto, which he said would be published later this month, was to “keep the people safe, first and foremost”.
He said the Progressives alliance was the only group running for election “with any significant track record”.
McLaughlin told the audience that he had already achieved his political goals and ambitions, and that he had only agreed to run again because he had been persuaded that his experience could help guide the new government and new premier. He added that he did not mind if McTaggart gave him a job “as a backbencher, or parliamentary secretary”.
He added that the alliance was the only organised team running for election that could get a majority. “There is no other alternative,” he said.
The full rally can be viewed on Facebook here.