Wendy Ledger writes: It seems incomprehensible. Here I am, pencils sharpened, note books at the ready, statistics calculated, questions honed, but I can barely find a candidate for love nor money. The May 2017 General Election will be the fourth election I have covered as a reporter in the Cayman Islands, and given that this is the country’s first go at ‘one man, one vote’ in single-member constituencies, I was excited in a nerdy journo kinda way.
But so far, finding out where people plan to run has been, as the Australians are wont to say, like trying to pin a kangaroo down on a trampoline.
Yes, unbelievable as it may seem, I’m struggling to get candidates to talk. If I didn’t know better (because, of course, everyone knows I’m really an MI6 spy), I’d think they had all signed the Official Secrets Act.
My frustrations over ‘hunt the candidate’ are bad enough but I’m worried that all this dodging and weaving and tactical secrecy about admitting where they plan to run and trying desperately hard to control their non-message might result in an unintelligible outpouring of ‘pent-up talking’ after Nomination Day, and that following this self-enforced limited campaigning they will then be drowning me with information and sending voters running for the hills long before polling day.
But if the voters hang on in there — and given that the only hill they can run to is Mount Trashmore, there’s a good chance they might — the real question we need to ask about this reticence on decision-making is about genuine representation.
I get the idea of tactics and, hey, politicians are wily creatures who generally want to win, otherwise they would not be in the game. And let’s face it, all of the would-be politicians really want to know where the incumbents are running and who else may be on the party tickets before jumping into the fray,
But the reasons why people supported OMOV in SMCs in Cayman — and some fought really hard for it — wasn’t just about voter equity but also the benefits of constituents knowing who their MLAs were and holding them accountable. Even more attractive to voters was the concept of a representative with their constituents’ interests at heart, a dedication to the needs of the specific district they represent and a connection to that community.
If people are just waiting to see who is running where, voters must ask themselves, do these reluctant candidates really have the best interests of their potential voters at heart? Or is it really about winning somewhere — anywhere — so they can claim a green leather chair in which to play Candy Crush in comfort at last?
Hats off, I say, to Kenneth Bryan, who was the first candidate out of the gate, even though he may end up with one of the hardest fights, potentially going head-to-head with the premier or the veteran vote-magnet, Kurt Tibbetts. But he didn’t shrink from the likely David and Goliath political battle; Bryan wanted to represent the people of George Town Central and to him that was the most important part of his decision to run.
But too many others have waited until the eleventh hour.
While they may have been campaigning on a superficial low-key level, their lack of specifics has undermined their credibility. With the usual bland clichés, criticising of incumbents and a paucity of real policies, it’s hard to see how after Nomination Day in just eight weeks, many of the candidates will have enough time to get to grips with the need for a comprehensive political package for the constituencies that they finally plump for.
More importantly, it’s hard to see how, given the huge number of independents, they intend to deliver. No matter what they promise, unless they have ten political chums who also support that political package, they can’t deliver anything.
But that’s a whole other story. Watch this space.
Category: Election Viewpoint