Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Cayman’s election candidates

 What a fiasco our election process is! 25 candidates are standing in George Town for its six LA seats out of 18, and we voters haven’t got a clue what any of the 25 might do if they get in. Not one of them has committed himself or herself to a single specific action. They’re all going to wait till they’re safely in the House and then decide. Good grief!

It’s what’s called a beauty pageant. “Vote for me because I’m a nice person. Look: here’s a photo of me smiling; here’s my cool slogan. What more could you ask for?” Well, a lot more, actually. Here are some sample questions all of us voters ought to be asking all of the candidates.

Will you continue to waste tens of millions of dollars on Cayman Airways, the Turtle Farm, the Economic Statistics office, and all those other government units whose work could be better done by the private sector? Will you increase taxes, to pay for all government’s loss-making enterprises, or will you force our Pension Funds to buy government bonds to finance the losses?

What – specifically – will you do to block the appointment of political cronies to government boards and committees? Who will you favour for appointments to those boards and committees? Will you reach out to immigrant communities and allow them to share in the governance of these Islands, or will you maintain the politics of exclusion, and keep all political power in the hands of bloodline Caymanians? One of the independents is a former Chairman of the Immigration Board, for goodness sake. Not a good sign...

How will the independents rid government’s overloaded payroll of its wastrels and time-servers? What specific cuts will they make (or try to make) in Public Expenditure? If they haven’t decided yet, will they be equally indecisive in the House? I wrote a blog-post called “How to balance a budget” a couple of weeks ago; do they read that sort of thing? Who would they vote into Cabinet, and who would they not vote in? Why won’t they tell us?

The reason why so many people despise the three political parties is that we can’t trust them to do what’s right. Since they have no formal policies, all elected MLAS from the UDP will support its leader for a Cabinet post, and will take his advice on everything. All elected members of the PPM will support its leader for Cabinet and will do whatever he says; all in Julianna’s team will do her bidding.

That’s reason enough for us to vote for independents and to urge others to do the same. BUT would the independents be any better? Why should we put our signatures at the bottom of a blank page? Roy and Jude (for instance) are reckoned to be shoo-ins; they’re very nice fellows, and would bring some accounting expertise to the job. But must we gamble on them? Why won’t they tell us what they intend to do to get Cayman out of the current fiscal mess?

In the last election, expat voters and their Caymanian friends and families swung the result against the PPM because of its members’ anti-expat rhetoric, and towards the UDP because of McKeeva’s 3000 Status grants. From what I hear on the street, the same twin factors will be in play this time. Contempt and gratitude are powerful sentiments, not to be ignored.

Imagine an Assembly with six UDP, six PPM, two Juliannas and four independents including Ezzard and Arden. Wow. What a prospect! How long would Cayman survive before the first coup attempt? How long before our Offshore clients are driven away by the sight of such a dog’s breakfast?