18 April, 2010
Scotty asked a good question. Am I so comfortable with the new administration in
Anguilla that I have converted this blog into a constitutional tutorial? That deserves an answer. Well, here goes my attempt to be clear on what I am doing with this blog.
Yes, the new administration does deserve a short period to become familiar with the issues and to develop policy in relation to them without being sniped at by me from the sidelines. The election campaign was quite passionate. Temperatures became very high. Things must be allowed to cool down. The new government has not been in place for two full months. There is no healthy purpose in digging at minor scratches and bumps when the body politic needs to heal. I am sure I shall feel quite differently in a year or two.
Then, I am not aware of anything terribly wrong that the new Hubert Hughes administration is doing that needs to be highlighted. I am not aware of any scandals or maladministration that need to be exposed to the light of day.
If anything, my very minor complaint has to do with the lack of information coming out of the administration. Hubert has not done what we have all been asking and introducing more transparency into the system. He has allowed himself to go along with the traditional British system of secrecy in
Anguilla’s administration. What do I mean by this?
One, he should insist that the press be invited to Executive Council meetings. Except for matters of national security, which will be dealt with in private, the public ought to be informed weekly by the mainstream press what matters have been discussed and what decisions have been reached by our cabinet.
Two, if the Governor does not permit this, he should go on national radio and TV every week and give a summary report to the public on what matters were discussed and what decisions were reached. If the Governor tries to stop him, let him point out that in other
this is a routine matter. There is nothing wrong with it in principle or in practice. On the contrary, it is very bad for his reputation and that of his government if he continues to let everything done by his administration remain shrouded in secrecy and subject to baseless rumour. British Overseas Territories
Three, the most important reform that we need in
Anguilla, as a matter of urgency, is constitutional reform that will entrench measures designed to ensure transparency, accountability and integrity in government in the future. We all know what these measures are, as I have dealt with them extensively before. They range from the enlargement of the House of Assembly to improve debate and to enlarge the catchment area for appointing ministers, to the ombudsman, to the integrity commissioner, to the public service, teachers and police commissions, to the tenders board, to the freedom of information Act, and the many others. These reforms all need to be embedded in the Constitution and given real teeth, not cosmetic ones. Most of them cannot be achieved by common statute, far less by administrative reform.
In light of this last, I think it is worth harping on about weaknesses in the Constitution for the next year or two if necessary.
Of course, if there are any real errors in administration that need exposing please let me know about them so that I can write my views on them.