McTaggart spells out independents’ dilemma

| 10/05/2017 | 34 Comments
Cayman News Service

MLAs Roy McTaggart and Ezzard Miller in the LA after the 2013 elections (Photo by Dennie Warren Jr)

(CNS Election): Roy McTaggart has spelt out the problem that independent candidates are likely to face if they are elected to office following the 24 May General Election. The George Town East candidate, who is running on the PPM ticket after joining the party in 2015, was elected to office as an independent in 2013 having given up a successful career in the private sector to play a part in governing the country. But he learned quickly that despite having won the second largest vote in the capital, he still had no political clout.

“In 2013 I was elected as an independent but once elected, I quickly realised that even though I had the distinction of being the second elected member for George Town, I had absolutely no political influence or leverage,” he said at the close of the Chamber of Commerce candidate forum on Monday evening.

“I had no intention… of leaving the private sector only to stand proud but idle, thereby wasting an opportunity to serve my country,” McTaggart said.

Shortly after being elected he found himself by default in opposition, so he opted to join the government benches after he and Tara Rivers and Winston Connolly were invited to do so. Two years later, he joined the Progressives. Although Tara Rivers has never signed on with the party, as a government minister she remains bound by the collective responsibility of Cabinet and for the last four years has been effectively a member of the party in all but name.

Last year, Connolly left the government benches to sit in opposition because, he said, he did not feel the PPM would support any of his private member’s motions. Anthony Eden and Alva Suckoo also left government over their opposition to gay rights.

As the first of this week’s televised forums drew to a close Monday evening, McTaggart said he had no regrets about his decision and had found his government work extremely satisfying. He also made it clear that he was ready for higher office and had his eye on a ministry, as he asked the people of GTE to return him to the Legislative Assembly on polling day.

But speaking at the same forum, one of his opponents for the GTE seat, Sharon Roulstone, who in 2013 had campaigned for office alongside McTaggart in George Town on the same Coalition for Cayman ticket, had a different view. She said a coalition government would be elected and appeared to believe that she would automatically be a part of it if she won the seat.

But, as was made clear by McTaggart, this is unlikely to be the case.

As he learned in his first day in the Legislative Assembly when he found himself sandwiched between Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean on the opposition benches, she could only sit in government if invited to do so by whichever party gets the largest number of candidates or as a result of closed-door negotiations.

Roulstone said no party had enough candidates to form a government. However, the PPM is fielding 15 candidates of its own members and can also count on Rivers, who although she is running as an independent is doing so in support of her Progressive Cabinet colleagues. Although the CDP is fielding a smaller team with just ten candidates, if every one is successful, McKeeva Bush would be able to form a government.

But even if the PPM or the CDP don’t quite make the magic ten to have a majority, the party with the largest number is still more likely to form the next administration by inviting particular independents to support them. Bush has already outlined a number of candidates he would be asking to sit in his government if they make it through the polls later this month.

Unless there is a landslide for the independent candidates, any coalition government is going to be led by one of the incumbent experienced politicians. As a result, they will make the decisions about who they invite into a coalition in the same way Alden McLaughlin invited McTaggart, Rivers and Connolly into the Progressives fold. And even if invited, independents may not necessarily play a part in the policy formation.

Progressives officials told CNS that they caucused from the beginning with the three non-PPM government members, but that was a choice they made and it is not a forgone conclusion. In future, another alliance or party may choose to shape policy in their own private meetings. Elected independents will be at the mercy of parties or alliances, and even if there is a greater number of non-party members elected, many may still find themselves nowhere near Cabinet or even on government benches.

If the largest group of MLAs are non party members on 25 May, then there will likely be several weeks of closed-door meetings and horse trading until some form of alliance is agreed.

This won’t be easy, as the independents are running on very different and incompatible policy platforms, from candidates like Roulstone, who is campaigning for the privatisation of the education system and removing government from it altogether, to independents like Arden McLean, who has said taxes should be increased to improve and invest in the government school system.

Independents do have things to offer even in the Westminster system of adversarial politics but more often than not, successful non-party affiliated candidates are usually representing a specific or special interest.

In this election Dennie Warren Jr fits that description. While Warren has other issues on his campaign agenda, his primary objective in seeking election is to press for the creation of a medical cannabis sector in Cayman and the legal cultivation of the plant. In or out of government, Warren has a goal and a focus that goes beyond the usual “I’m going to fix it all” claims of candidates. He has a clear aim, and whether he is in opposition or a government backbencher, he can lobby for his goal. If he makes it to health minister, then Cayman can look forward to finally realising that third pillar of its economy.

Either way, he has a role to play, but other independents with less clearly defined specific policy positions are going to find themselves, as McTaggart did, wondering where they fit in, depending on the balance of power.

Cayman’s political system, even with the introduction of ‘one man, one vote’ is still predicated on the party system. Overturning that will require much more than politicians running on independent platforms and claiming they want to serve the people.

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Category: Candidates

Comments (34)

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  1. nickcayman says:

    Why am I seeing no discussion on what the electorate want, why no talk of raising the minimum wage, why no talk of government building affordable housing and making cheap mortgage financing available for citizens? You are the electorate, so decide what you want and tell the politicians. Do not just bitch and complain, state what you want and make suggestions.
    Eighty percent of Singapore citizens own their own home.

    Nick Robson

    • Anonymous says:

      Nick Robson The minimum wage has only recently been implemented so I believe we should waut awhile and see what the effect has been on people’s standard of living as well as the cost of living.Some individuals are saying that they do not see any reduction in the cost of living, in spite of the reduction in Fuel duty rates and the general reduction on various goods from 22% to 20%. Could the introduction of a minimum wage have anything to do with this? With regard to the housing situation in Singapore ,that looks like some good stuff right there. Is there a link that you can provide to shed more light on how this was accomplished?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Why don’t they all just do as the Speaker of the House is doing – when the green team is in charge be green, when the purple team is in charge be purple, when the red team is in charge be red – this politician has figured it out – keep switching your loyalties and political beliefs and that seems to be her secret formula,

    Signed,

    Rainbow – because I want to be pretty and noticed – next colour?

    • Unison says:

      When you say Rainbow you mean the gay pride rainbow, or the Rainbow given to us by our Creator after Noah’s Flood? 🙂

  3. Hazzard says:

    Obesity might be an even bigger concern.

  4. Easter Bunny says:

    I really don’t think there is a truly independent candidate in this race. You have 14 so called independents on Dr. Tomlinson’s payroll. Only an idiot would not figure out that spending about $900K to paying their salaries and expenses to run there is a motive. Most of them need a job so badly he had to pay them to run. Lets see, what position could he take in the LA without running.

    Then you have a dozen of UDP/CDP so-called independents that meet with Mac every week to strategize about how they will run the country when they are elected with Mac at the help. Hmmm not much left after that except a handful that neither Dr. T or Mac wanted! I hope that voters are not fool enough to think the notion of an independent is real. It certainly isn’t and don’t be foolish enough to fall for it! Do you believe in the Easter Bunny too!!

    • Unison says:

      What so deceptive about these candidates, is the voters don’t have any idea as to what their unified intentions are, or who will be who if they make it into the LA.

      You the voter is kept in the dark :/

  5. Anonymous says:

    Roy describes what is wrong with Cayman’s reliance on loading a Party-lead Cabinet with “yes” people, ignoring expensive advice, colluding to reactionary policy to retain power, and ramming through bad unresearched ideas based on ego and fraternal pressure, rather than electoral mandate or merit. It nullifies house debate, negating the relevance of other seat-warmers in the LA – many of whom, aware of their own irrelevance, fail to show up, or utter a word for four years, and have lots of recreational time and un-exercised opinions for “celebrity” radio shows lamenting, “nobody will listen to us”. Few of the non-Cabinet are prepared in advance of LA’s few sessions, ie. bother to read the Bills that are tabled. It’s essentially a four year paid holiday. We need to fix that Roy, not contribute further to the problem. CDP/UDP is decimated and PPM are going to be dismantled. The future is one of independent thinkers willing to debate and reach compromise in the best interest of the people of the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately, we will need to modify the Constitution to allow a larger pool of service-minded candidates the opportunity to lead.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Why can’t they form a minority government? It is the best type of government.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m sick of coming home from work every day to find more PPM leaflets suck in my front door. I’m not voting for your crappy party no matter how much spam you try to shove down my throat!! Independents all the way!!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Anyone saw Ms Thompson performance last night in the debate with Mr Hew.

    Her antics while Hew was speaking was simply unprofessional. You lost my vote …

  9. Unison says:

    Like I said before and I will say it again, which government on earth do you see is not ruled by a political party??? This idea of Independents running the country is not realistic. First, it takes more than a lone ranger to run a country. Second, at least a party respects unity. Third, you know who will be who with a party; independents keep voters in the dark as to what portfolios will be filled. Fourth, at least there is unitive effort and things get down alot faster for the country. Fifth, with a party, you safeguard Cabinet by being filled by uneducated or inexperience candidates. Sixth, party members can still go independent if they like and leave the party if they don’t agree with the party leader – like what Eden and Suckoo did … it is myth that party means blind following of members … etc.

    So there is no reason to not band together and form a party or an alliance! None whatsoever! Good governance requires alot more than single people thinking they are their own party! We have enough Independents right now in the field that can form another party versus the green and red ones we have now! I think it is not too late!

    :/

    • Vatican Disguise says:

      Take the blue pill next time – the red has you far out from reality like most hypnotized folks of the world these days/daze…zZZz..

    • Anonymous says:

      If reasoned debate and collaborative decision-making are dead, then why have an Opposition bench? Do we have need of a Legislative Assembly if a Party Cabinet has already decided? Should we do away with that and stop pretending to have a democracy? You describe a party dictatorship. And no: Cabinets are not loaded with educated people, I can assure you that is not the case.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I’m so confused. Who do I wote for now to make sure Mac doesn’t get back in? That’s all I care about. And the only reason I got registered for the last erection.

    • Powerless says:

      Dont vote away your power of freedome to choice and will people. You will have a big dock and large fancy airport full of UK gays and claiming they want shut down turtle farm!

      Dont vote Cayman! Issa joke are you a joke? Thought so!

    • Anonymous says:

      The PPM candidate in your area. If you do not have one, then then ask each independent candidate running in your area, IN PERSON, who they intend to support to form a government if they are elected. Make your choice. If it turns out they lied, then make us all know that they cannot be honest & trustworthy. Or could also ask a PPM candidate their opinion.

    • Anonymous says:

      See -that’s why we shouldnt be giving Voting Rights to status holders who can’t even pronounce the word! I swear some would sell their vote for fisty cents during this erection.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Half of the independents are UDP in disguise and the other half coudn’t find a decent pay check an dare looking for big money in government.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, wasn’t it Independents that stopped the government from passing the Legal Practitioners Bill ? I think Roys failings are due to his weaknesses as a leader and have nothing to do with Party membership. He was elected as an Independent and had to join the PPM or be thrown to the wolves by his Government and he was too weak to stand up on his own!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Independents are worth 10 party members because they VOTE THEIR CONSCIENCE! To me all the party system here has shown is that they do nothing but support the big corporations at the expense of their people and people who are otherwise good people become complacent and will do anything to tow their party line. Party politics is a disease! Cure the disease- vote independent!

    • Kathy Sue says:

      Politics is the disease and it has veiled your sight into thinking the iche problem exist within it. In reality the problem is looming just above – peek another layer back on the onion you shall see!

    • Anonymous says:

      What the hell does “voting your conscience” mean anyway? 19 people can’t have everything their own way. At least ten of them need to see eye to eye or compromise to get anything done.

      Stubbornness is not a virtue in the halls of government.

      • Anonymous says:

        It means voting based on what your moral compass says is the right thing to do. If they can’t do that they should not be there at all!

  14. Anonymous says:

    We had “independent” governments for many, many years in the 79’s, 80’s & 90’s. In my opinion that is why the country never got fully implemented projects that were properly thought through. Simply because each faction was in their corner and wanted a “success” to show their voters. So issues were not dealt with to the extent that they should have been. Now these partial successes have come to haunt us, e.g. incomplete road corridors, inadequate schools, etc.
    At this time we must have a government with a clear (ethical) plan that is articulated to the public. Then we get to choose.

  15. Anonymous says:

    First time I’ve heard anything from him…

    • Anonymous says:

      That’s because all his does is tow the PPM party line- not a single original thought!

    • Anonymous says:

      You have not been paying attention then.

    • Anonymous says:

      Typical comment from someone who is disengaged in the happenings of their government, who waits until 3 months before election to start following candidates and checking whether they been going to church or not, who wants to be spoon fed the latest story at the water cooler and/or who only follows the scandalous/gossip-like stories (of which there were none hence your comment). Well even if you are just starting to hear, listen to Roy over the last few weeks. He is not reading the PPM hymn book but talking from the heart. He is talking about all that he has been working on, in particular the solid waste management solution. Thats not a script. That’s action, hard work and man hours. Moreover, he is talking about the Ppm’s plans for the next term but not because he is towing the party line, not because Alden is a dictator and told him/them what to say. Roy is speaking from the heart because clearly he, like all of them, were a part of creating the plan. They may not have each contributed to every aspect of the plan but that makes sense. Roy is not towing. He is taking ownership of what he has helped to create. He is speaking with conviction because he helped to shape this plan with his colleagues. That too is a testament to the kind of leader that The Honourable Alden McLaughlin is. He is a leader!! He surrounds himself with intelligent equals and allows them to contribute their fair share. Someone has to provide direction and be decisive at some point (just like a leader in any other organization) but that does not make the leader a dictator and it does not make Roy, in this case, weak.

      • Anonymous says:

        I visited the dump a few months back and I can vouch that things have improved there to some extent
        Mr. McTaggart is a very intelligent man and I am certain he weighed the pros and cons before he decided to join the Progressives. He, Mr. Panton and Mr. Archer are three very talented and intelligent persons. I am almost certain if Mr McTaggart had ran and won his seat in 2013 as part of the Progressives he would have been one of the Cabinet Ministers

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