Letter to the Editor

By anguillian December 11, 2017 12:07 Updated




Date: December 5, 2017

Dear Sir

Overcoming Our Differences to secure a Stronger Anguilla

In your editorial in the 1st December 2017 edition of The Anguillian you repeat the comment in your 5th May 2017 that “Another hurdle, which must be overcome, is the widening political divide which is becoming increasingly evident in Anguilla. It manifests itself in the immediate opposition to any proposal emanating from the governing party. Attitudes and behaviours must obviously change if we are to successfully develop and implement a national plan for Anguilla.”
I have to say, regretfully, that that blandishment sounds very partisan, without offering any clue as to “how” attitudes should change or where the responsibilities lie.
I agree that unelected persons both within and outside the former government party very often oppose proposals emanating from the governing party as a knee jerk reaction. However, when I was elected in 2015 and became Leader of the Opposition, I made it very clear that although I would oppose where opposition was merited, I would fully support the government where support was merited. I believe I have fully lived up to that promise and intend to continue doing so.
But let us not waste time on seeking the impossible. It is a pipe dream to imagine that Anguilla’s differences will be buried. We need to find solutions that will improve our governance that are not dependent upon miracles, but that are realisable.
Who should shoulder the responsibility for building a stronger Anguilla? The answer, obviously, is the government of the day which was indulged by the electorate with an overwhelming majority. But therein lies the difficulty. The Chief Minister, who clearly has his elected members in thrall, has been in the business so long that, like a leopard who cannot change his spots, cannot be expected to abandon his long established practice of ignoring the views of others. If you had wanted to suggest a solution to the problem you so graphically describe, you would have identified the fact that while the Chief Minister is adept at pretending to consult, by holding stage managed meetings which do not enable the general public to get involved in the detail or conceptual basis of government policy. What he does not do, but which would be a giant step towards overcoming some of the “differences” that could realistically be overcome, is to involve the Leader of the Opposition in discussions on many important aspects of government policy, before government decisions are taken. It is obvious he does not do so because he recognises that that would jeopardise some of the sectional advantages his government nurtures. In other words, “overcoming our differences” is not his priority.
In an article in The Times of 8th November 2017, Mike Summers wrote about the Falkland Islands, whose government has very similar responsibilities:
The Falkland Islands are unique in so many ways, and this includes our governance. There are no political parties and candidates are elected upon their personal merit, rather than party political dogma. Until 2013, MLAs were part-time, but the role is now a full-time job. And whilst MLAs deal with local issues they are also required to represent the Islands on an international scene, including at the United Nations, Commonwealth, EU and UK level.
It is heartening to see that nine of the seventeen candidates for 2017 are younger than fifty years old. They have been extensively grilled in interviews by our local media, and in open public meetings. Social media has become very prominent in the campaign, with a lively dedicated general election page on Facebook.
I will be happy and Anguilla will progress when candidates in our elections are elected “on personal merit, rather than party political dogma”. I urge you, as Anguilla’s principal organ of news and opinion, to espouse that cause. But I think it is important that the need for a collaborative and respectful approach, an “Anguilla First” approach, should not be presented as a vacuous aspiration only. It should be presented as the overriding objective for national development going forward. I am certain that if you championed a full consideration of the cause, and if you also responsibly explored the ways and means of achieving it in the present political context, you would be helping your readers and all Anguillians better prepare for a sustainable future.

Yours faithfully,

Pam Webster, Leader of the Opposition

(Published without editing by The Anguillian newspaper.)

By anguillian December 11, 2017 12:07 Updated


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