Harris denies talks to join PPM ranks

| 17/10/2017 | 41 Comments
Cayman News Service

Austin Harris

(CNS): Former talk-show host Austin Harris, the MLA for Prospect, has denied speculation that he is in discussions to join the Progressives. Currently sitting on the backbench of the Government of National Unity and serving as a councillor in the premier’s ministry, Harris is also preparing to share a constituency office with the PPM leader, Alden McLaughlin. But he told CNS that at present “there is no dialogue taking place regarding me joining the PPM or any other party at this time”. The denials come amid rumours that Harris, who stood as an independent candidate funded by Dr Steve Tomlinson, was about to throw his hat in with the party.

The denials by the 46-year-old novice politician are reminiscent of those made by Roy McTaggart, the current finance minister, who also denied plans to join the PPM some months before he joined the last Progressive-led coalition government. Like Harris, McTaggart ran on an independent ticket the first time he was elected to the Legislative Assembly, having been a fierce critic of the party system. But during the last campaign McTaggart became a convert and pointed out the lack of power individual independent candidates have and that real political clout comes from being part of a group or party.

In the wake of the election result in May this year, as the PPM emerged as the largest party but without a majority, Harris found himself in the middle of four days of horse-trading, and had hustled for a seat in Cabinet in the late night deal the Independents tried to cut with CDP Leader McKeeva Bush, just hours after the former premier had agreed a deal with McLaughlin.

At the time Harris had sent texts bragging about securing a Cabinet seat, though in the end this deal was short-lived.

But this week, almost five months after the election, Harris said he was working as part of a team in the current government to ensure the success of that government, and by extension the Cayman Islands, which was his “only priority”. He added that he was enjoying the “very challenging” work and was “working well with people who five months ago may have considered me an adversary”.

For several years Harris was the host of Cayman Crosstalk, broadcast on Rooster by Hurley’s Entertainment and one of Cayman’s longest running morning talks shows, where he was in a position to criticise as much as he wanted but not required to solve problems. He was, however, fired some time after he was arrested and charged with domestic violence following a very public incident in 2014, where he punched a female friend and caused a drunken altercation at a social event.

Harris initially denied the allegations, but on the morning he was due to stand trial he pleaded guilty to the assault charges. The presiding magistrate accepted his claims that he was a reformed character, and although he said he could not remember what had happened during the incident because he was so drunk, that he no longer drank alcohol and had been to counselling. As a result, no conviction was ever recorded against him for the violent act against a woman, allowing him to evade any sanctions.

He is now working in the ministry dealing with gender affairs.

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Comments (41)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Austin Harris is the biggest disappointment coming out of the last election. From the day after elections he was on his phone with all three factions to see how best to maximize his paycheck. Note the extra $2,000.00 a month bonus he was able to negotiate on top of his salary by going PPM.

    For 3 years I listened to him castigate the Premier and the PPM for what he said was a poor job they were doing and swore on the campaign trail that he was the man with a plan to bring them down……. then turned around and did the complete opposite in order to maximize his salary.

    The worst part is that he, an admitted drunken wife beater, went so far as to take a job with PPM to oversee the department that is supposed to PROTECT WOMEN, just for the extra dollars.

    I don’t know who I am more disappointed with, Alden for giving him that position, and the extra money, or Austin for completely reversing his position on the PPM, for that extra money.

    I guarantee you that Austin will be a one and out candidate come th enext election. Anyone with a grain of political campaign stratagem will be able to unseat him with all the disenfranchised voters in his district who expected so much different from what he did and is doing.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Save that money because you are gonna be a one hit wonder on the political stage in Cayman! Hubris.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Austin and Alden also share something else – membership in a certain “secret” fraternity – which is not so secret but pervasive in ALL areas of public functions and many areas of the private sector.

  4. Zombie Jesus says:

    Well he is a politician and as such he will do what is in his best interest or whatever his donors commands.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Would make for an interesting statement on International Women’s Day. “In this fair nation of ours we have sent a strong message about men’s violence to women by appointing a woman-beater to the government”.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Interesting… but we shall see how for the people you really are Mr. Harris! When you were on the talk shows, you were one of the biggest critics of PPM government but now you all buddy-buddy?!?! Your a newly elected MLA who is also a counselor in the Premier’s ministry who you are also planning to share a consistency office with. Really!!

    PPM spins many webs and depending on the bug…. it either gets trapped (Roy & Tara) or manages to get away (Alva, Anthony & Winston)…. we wonder how things will play out for you over this term?!?!…. Let the show begin!

    • Anonymous says:

      10.04pm Of course you never change your stance on anything, no matter how many times you are wrong ; once you have made up your mind there’s no turning back no matter what. So in you mind Austin should remain critical of PPM and parties, even if he has discovered that his original message was flawed.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Austin might as well join the PPM now that he is sharing offices with the Premier and is his favorite travelling companion. Barbara and Tara must be besides themselves after years of loyal service.

    • Anonymous says:

      Obviously 8.44pm you have no idea how the system works. Tara and Roy know that when the subject matter has to do with their Ministry they will be taken along. Austin will travel when the subject is something he had to deal with in the Premier’s Ministry. I think if Austin should join with PPM he will be groomed to one day hold the top spot in that group. Alva would also have been given that chance but was not willing to wait so he broke away to form his own group. And make no mistake he is the true leader of that opposition group . Don’t believe it, just look at what happened after the election.

      • Anonymous says:

        LOL So Alva is some dark sinister figure hiding behind Ezzard waiting to do exactly what ? Boy you can hear some crap. All that happened after election is Mac played until he got what he wanted

  8. Anonymous says:

    There are very few Cayman men who don’t abuse their women. Some of them are held in the highest esteem because a lot of their abuse are hidden to the Public. Austin was young and had too much booze, that can really be excuseable. He is a very intelligent young man but we Caymanians are like crabs in a barrel. Cant stand to see the other going places. Austin will be elected again especially if he runs in the same District. Who knows “the next Premier”. Come on Guys give the man a break. If Jesus came to live with us we would destroy him within a month. When you all change and begin to treat your spouses right then come back and criticize.

    • barrel buster says:

      It is you who are the one with the overused ‘crabs in a barrel’ mentality due to your asinine and sweeping comment that ‘there are very few Caymanian men who don’t abuse their women’. That may be your own twisted logic, as you seem to have aligned yourself with Austin but you do not speak for Caymanian men. I, as a Caymanian man, do not abuse women and I take umbrage to your stereotyping of Caymanians in this regard. Coincidentally, I would not have voted for Harris for a variety of reasons. Speak for yourself and leave Jesus out of your nonsensical hooey.

    • West bay Premier says:

      Do you really know what you just said , I doubt it. I would be ashamed to write that you god forbidden child .

    • Anonymous says:

      Jesus is shaking his head at you.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I also deny talking to the PPM or any party come to that. In fact I am just waiting for an invitation to a party which would be much more interesting. Hopefully one involving illicit massage paraphernalia, erotic art and illegal gambling. Hopefully it will be on a Sunday so we can get some illegal drinking in too.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I had high hopes of Austin but alas – so who is goong to fight for the cayman people now against PPM , UDP, fake independents , dart and oh yes LODGE.

  11. Anonymous says:

    How pathetic if true!
    Mr Harris if you need some help on making ‘movement’s’ as an Independent Political Candidate please call me before you sell out.
    It’s simple, this is for Kenneth Bryan too. MOBILISE THE PEOPLE! ORGANISE RALLIES! TAKE TO THE STREETS!
    It’s the only way this extremely crazy government is going to listen! We’d sooner make money off of trivial fees than to find suitable alternatives. So we end up with an over run of people on permits, too many cars on island, no protected government land, etc.

    • Anonymous says:

      Treasonous!! You think this government is crazy? Look at Venezuela, Russia, North Korea, Philippines, US etc and thank your lucky stars that we are here.

  12. Anonymous says:

    whooo cares if he is PPM?!

    • Anonymous says:

      All he does is how he is told to do by the leader anyway so it does not make any difference. The voters in Cayman only vote for who they like and not on the caliber of the candidate. Another money sucker for 4 years while Rome burns!

  13. OneVoice says:

    When will we learn , these individuals are only there for the money and benefits they get… come on . Cut that salary by 50% and benefits and see how many will run for country. I really have no use for none of them to be honest . I can only vote in north side and the choices their was between Bad and no good, so I voted for the No good SOB. Just saying. cant say I did not vote Heller!

    • Anonymous says:

      Boy are you asking for it! Cut man they need a raise for all the hard work and longgggg hours they put in looking out fot our best interest

  14. Anonymous says:

    Harvey Weinstein should move to Cayman. Abusing women here seems to be a boost to career prospects.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Party shmarty. What blind bit of difference would it make?

    You’re either a member of the government or you’re not. If you’re not a member of the party but you support the PPM government by propping up their slim majority, WTF is the difference?

    Alva Suckoo was a “member of the party”, as was Tony Eden. Fat lot of use that did them, or the party. Roy was not but then joined – voters didn’t seem to care either way. Tara has never been a member but is in the cabinet and is therefore unable to voice her disagreement with them on anything – a convenient excuse.

    The only REAL independent of recent years to have served in government was Winston Connolly. And he had to walk away to prove it.

    If you support everything the PPM government says and does, in what sense are you an “independent”? You’re just an IINO – Independent In Name Only.

  16. Anonymous says:

    All mouth no action. I wasted my vote on Austin

    • Anonymous says:

      You should be ashamed that you voted for him.

      • Anonymous says:

        But what alternative did Prospect have? Matthew Leslie is a no and Lucille Seymour? At the very least Austin was politically minded and already had a platform but I too regret voting for him. As soon as he was elected he did the total opposite of what he said he would do. I should not have voted at all.

        • Anonymous says:

          At least Lucille is approachable to talk to and she actually does help where she can and as for Matthew, he has a track record of helping people and still continues to do so. Poor guy may had done wrong to his wife but at least he is not a woman beater.

        • Anonymous says:

          Should have voted for Lucille. She’s politically minded and already had a platform (before PPM figured out who they were running where). So matches everything you said about Austin. Except she wouldn’t be doing the opposite of what she said she would do.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Notice how he left that little window open “there is no dialogue taking place regarding me joining the PPM or any other party AT THIS TIME”. Glad I didn’t waste my vote on him, and although our Prospect options were pretty dreadful, he was still the worst IMO.

  18. Veritas says:

    Given the cicumstances of this man’s drunken assault on a female, I’m surprised we are not inundated with similar cases when the outcome is no conviction recorded, despite his guilty plea and admission that he was drunk out of his mind.

  19. West bay Premier says:

    I can’t just let you throw my money and position out the door . I have to stay independent till next election so I will have a better chance of having my independent party elected and running the Government . Or I wouldn’t sponsor your next campaign.

    • West bay Premier says:

      Mr Austin I would suggest that you open your eyes and look after the people , and not listen to what I think that the Dr is telling you.

    • Jah Dread says:

      Harris me boy as the old saying goes the only person who cant change his mind s a dead one. and as your Premier was wont to say “My thoughts are still evolving “. Either one of those will cover you . So to all the critics shut ya clapper.

  20. Anonymous says:

    I suppose the women-beater vote is important to Alden.

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