05 August, 2007

Opposition Leader

Constitutional Discussions 16: Leader of the Opposition. Section 40A of the Constitution of Anguilla provides for this office. He or she is formally appointed to this office by the Governor. The Governor takes the instructions of the majority of the Opposition. They tell him who the leader is. The Leader of the Opposition is to be consulted by the Governor on the appointment of the second Nominated Member of the House of Assembly. He chairs the Public Accounts Committee. This is supposed to be the Assembly’s watchdog on how public funds have been spent. He has office space provided in the House of Assembly. He receives a higher salary then an ordinary member of the Opposition. For there to be a leader, there has to be an agreement on who is leader. If the Opposition consists of two persons, and they do not agree on which of them is the leader, then the Governor cannot appoint anyone. That is exactly the position we are in now. The Hon Edison Baird and the Hon Hubert Hughes have not been able to tell the Governor which one of them is to fill the office of Leader of the Opposition. The position remains unfilled.

Members of the Commission grappled with the problem. Various persons made representations on how it was to be solved. Should the Governor appoint whoever in his view was most appropriate to fill the office? Should they be required to toss a coin? Could there be a rule that would make sense? Should it be left as it presently is, so that, if the members of the Opposition do not agree, the post is not filled?

The solution that found favour with a majority of Anguillians who expressed a view on the problem was that it should be the member of the Assembly who had served the longest. If one member has served for 11 years and another has served for 10 years, and they do not agree on who is to be the leader, it will automatically be the one who has served for 11 years. People thought there should be a rule that the Governor can apply. It is not beneficial to our system of government to have the present situation continue. This was the recommendation of the Commission at paragraph 94 of its Report.

The USA adopted one of the shortest and simplest Constitutions on achieving independence. They had had democratic institutions of government since the earliest days of colonial rule. Because of the poverty of the country, this was not so in Anguilla. That is yet another reason for putting such a rule of detail in our Constitution. In such a young democracy as ours, you cannot leave such an important issue to good sense, tradition, or convention. You have to put even the simplest rules in the Constitution or in a law if you want good sense to prevail.

Regretfully, members of the House of Assembly meeting in caucus at the Limestone Bay Café did not agree. They prefer to justify and sanction the present imbroglio by arguing that the rule should not be changed. If this were a Greek tragedy, it might be described as demonstrating an element of hubris!


  1. hubris: "Excessive pride, often taking the form of a boastful comparison of the self to the divine, the gods, or other higher powers."

    "Anybody who doesn't appreciate what I did, God will rain a curse upon them." --Hubert Hughes, 31 September 2002

  2. "I have all the answers."
    --Hubert Hughes, 19th October 2002

  3. The fundamental difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

  4. The bigger man woiuld graciously step aside in the interest of AXA.
    Needless to say , one would not expect a stampede by either gentleman to prove themself to be so

  5. that situation is really a thorn in the side of all Anguillians.I have a suggestion, the Leader of the oppossition should be someone who is the the leader of an oppossing party with more than one member.If the oppossition consists of only one member and there are one or more such single member parties ,then the one that garnered the most votes during the election should be the leader.Or how about an electorial run off between the two opposing members where the (general populace) voters decide who the Leader should be.This will sure stop all this lunacy and ensure that there will always be a Leader of the oppossition sitting in the house.

  6. Hubert is an old dinosar stuck in the prehistoric age its time for him to move a side a let someone else compete for that seat.Hubris uummh a choice word .He has retard or stunted our growth with his incoherent rambling about everything and which amounted to nothing.He is laughable :)


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