In effect the country is witnessing first hand 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.
Premier Hon. Alden McLaughlin
Published 6th May 2019, 3:46pm
Like many people in this country, I was troubled to learn of the recent resignation of MLA Ezzard Miller as the Leader of the Opposition.
In any democracy, the Leader of the Opposition is a serious role. In the Cayman Islands, not only is the Leader of the Opposition an important constitutional office, required under Section 68 of the Constitution, but the Leader of the Opposition plays several key roles, including serving as a member of the National Security Council and as Chair of the Public Accounts Committee. And of course the Leader of the Opposition serves a significant role in leading and speaking for Opposition members inside and outside of the Legislative Assembly.
British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli wrote, “No government can be long secure without a formidable opposition.”
For that reason, it is not so much the resignation of Mr. Miller that concerns me, but more the political infighting and personal ambition riddling the current opposition group. This, I believe, does not serve well the long term interests of our country.
To better explain, let me review what has transpired.
In giving notice of his resignation Mr. Miller commented that:
“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.”
Mr. Miller’s resignation follows a letter to him in April from other members of his Opposition team who advised that they were content for him to remain as opposition leader but asked that “where the general public is concerned, we are requesting that you do not speak on our behalf…. We believe that this request is necessary to maintain our independence and the political platform we are all elected on.”
In the media reports Mr. Miller outlined his challenge coping with a “steep learning curve navigating among some very strong personalities” and he went on to speak of leadership struggles on the Opposition Benches. And of course shortly following these comments MLA Alva Suckoo resigned as Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
In effect the country is witnessing first hand 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. By their own admission, the preference of the opposition members is to “maintain our independence and the political platform we are all elected on’.
Previously, these members have tried to paint themselves as a government in waiting. But if they cannot maintain any coherence in opposition, what chance is there that they could form an effective government? Disunity, disorganization and dark deeds fuelled by personal, political ambition are not what this country needs to take us forward.
So as Premier I do hope that the country as well as the members of the opposition learn from the lessons that the opposition members themselves are providing – it takes a committed team to govern – one that, to borrow somewhat from Mr. Miller, has the level of cohesion, industry and commitment necessary to serve in the best interest of all the people of these Islands.
Certainly this is the way that I and the team that I lead have operated in our Caucus, in Cabinet and in the Legislative Assembly. We promised to come together as a government of national unity and we have governed with our collective responsibility to do the right thing for the country as our guiding principle. Because of this we have been able to provide a stable and progressive government, and despite some challenges, the country as a whole is doing remarkably well. I am certainly proud of the team that I lead. Despite comprising various political factions, we have striven to find more in common than we had differences. We are stronger because of this approach and the country is the better for it.
I wish Mr. Miller well and thank him for his leadership in the Opposition in working with me over the past two years, particularly with regards to on-going constitutional reform.
I along with the rest of the country anxiously await the decision of the Opposition as to who will become their new leader, and to know soonest who will comprise the membership of the official Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.