13 February, 2009


ExCo Decisions. We have over the years repeatedly asked the Chief Minister to open up the decisions of the Executive Council to fresh air and sunlight. We suggested that it was not appropriate for decisions of cabinet to be concealed from the public. Practically every other Overseas Territory has a post-cabinet meeting. Some authorised official, usually the Chief Minister or Premier, briefs the press and public on the most important issues discussed by ExCo. The public is informed generally of the major decisions taken on their behalf by their leaders. In this way, transparency and public confidence are built up and demonstrated.

Instead, the Hon Osbourne Fleming, our Chief Minister, has chosen to imitate the strategy of previous Chief Minister, Hubert Hughes. Each week for the last couple of months, he has been holding a Chief Minister’s Press Conference on Tuesdays to which members of the Anguilla press are invited. There, our “press” fawn and pay obeisance at the feet of the officiating ministers. They learned well under the previous regime. They would never to dare ask a critical question, or risk getting crunched up by Hubert's very effective mouth.

At these press conferences, not one of the ministers says a word about any decision taken by ExCo at its previous meeting. The Chief Minister uses the occasion to enlist the press in making him and his ministers look good. He, and a few invited ministers, speak about their great concern and love for Anguilla. They boast about their achievements. They exhort Anguillians to do more for the love of their country. The press lap it up and publish it with not a critical word. Not a word of dissent is published, even in an opinion column. Hubert did the same thing successfully for years while he was previously Chief Minister.

That is not what we asked for.

No transparency.

No accountability.

No good governance.


  1. Investigate Social Security!!

  2. On page 2 of the United Front 2005 Manifesto we were promised "transparent, accountable, open government." When are they going to start giving us that?

  3. There was an early teacher on one of one of the more remote and smaller islands of South Pacific Fiji. His school children were assembled in the village one early morning, sitting cross legged on mats in the shade of the coconut trees. They were to the side and thus not in line of a falling nut.

    'It is time,' said the teacher, 'For me to tell you about your home in Fiji and the world beyond your reefs and seas.' He drew a rough picture of the earth's land masses and oceans and then pointed at a large open expanse near the bottom. He placed a fingernail in the centre. 'You see this tiny spot, no larger than the eye of a fly. That is the size of your land compared with the rest of the world'.

    When the children returned to their families with this extraordinary tale, the elders were incensed at such an insult. They went to the house of the teacher, clubbed him to death, roasted and consumed him: thus providing an early example of what happens when the truth is told to those who cannot recognise and do not wish to hear it.

    Thank you, Mr. Mitchell, for your courage.

  4. There is a rumor that Sillerman closed the Golf course because the land around his house was approved for a 31 villa development at long bay beach. He selling his house as a result. And now the golf course is overgrown and will not open. even Royden is disappointed with it - why is that government?

  5. If Anguillians are not allowed to know what their government decides, then on whose behalf is the government acting?

    However, not all information will - or should - be made available upon request. The art lies in balancing the right to access information with the need to keep as little as possible secret, for limited but nonetheless legitimate reasons.

    The right to access government information should be precisely that, a right, incorporated into legislation and overseen by an independent arbiter with powers of enforcement. It should not depend on the whims of this or that politician, or on the favorite topic "du jour".

    HOwever, this right can never be absolute, since there may be several valid reasons why government should not reveal everything it says or does all the time, depending on the specific circumstances in each case. Every FOI law around the world recognises several categories of "exemptions" to the general right of access - the UK law has no fewer than 23! These usually protect anything from law enforcement and international judicial processes to personal information.

    It would be unlikely, even if such a law ever came to Anguilla, that deliberations of cabinet would be made available upon request. However, the decisions of all levels of government should be communicated openly and timely as much as possible in order to keep the citizenry informed of developments that may affect their interests, and keep the government accountable to voters.

  6. So the useless Anguillian headlines "Anguillas Valentine" - the Rainbow Airline fiasco. So who's guaranteeing this joke to the tune of US $288,000 per month? It ain't the AHTA cause people told Trudy she was out of her mind. Could it be our "transparent" government who made a deal????? Maybe someday we'll find out - or maybe not!

  7. Government "secrecy" can only be combatted by a real, committed-to-the-public-service news source. All the gossipy innuendo that circles around Anguilla like flies on a dead dog is counter-productive--it just feeds the conspiracy theory junkies and the personal attack jocks. Politicians the world over like and promote the fawning type of press coverage. That will always be there. Don't you think our "little" Anguilla has grown up enough to deserve real, investigative reporting?

  8. Yes, I think Anguilla deserves some real, investigative journalism. And that's why I support this blog, and why I send Mr. Mitchell information when it comes my way. He has been honourable about keeping my identity confidential. I encourage others to do likewise, instead of waiting for a newspaper to do it for us. As President Obama said, "We are the people we've been waiting for."


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.