14 September, 2007

UK Relations

The FCO. When I wrote my previous article of 18 August on the question of the suitability of the FCO to be the intermediary between Anguilla and Britain, I had no idea that there was an extensive existing literature on the subject. A kind person has now sent some of it to me. I have read with great interest a 7-page paper published in The Round Table as long ago as April 2000 by Thomas Russell. Russell was, at the time, the Cayman Islands’ representative in London. He presented this most informative paper to the Institute of Commonwealth Studies Conference. It is available online from the publishers Routledge for the outrageous price of US$31.97, plus tax. I have a copy that I am happy to email to anyone for the asking.

In this paper, Russell argues that there are deficiencies in rule by the FCO that did not exist under the old Colonial Office. I summarise and extract some of his most pertinent points below:

The old Colonial Service had recruited persons expert in the fields of Administration, Medicine, Education, Agriculture, Legal Services, the Judiciary, Audit, and other disciplines. [By contrast, the Foreign Office has no traditional interest in these areas.]

The old Colonial Service had struggled to promote decolonization. This required forward planning, regularly reviewed, to develop the economy, education, medical and social services. There were initiatives to complete manpower planning and localization schemes. The old Colonial Office struggled to establish a Civil Service, free from political control; an independent Judiciary and Audit; an efficient Police Force; and a competent Parliamentary structure. [None of these initiatives is within the purview or competence of the Foreign Office.]

After the break-up of the West Indies Federation in 1962 the British Government made it clear that it would never again countenance being placed in the Associated States type of situation where it still had responsibilities but no longer had power. The official policy is to give the people of the Overseas Territories the ultimate right to choose independence. This policy has developed a momentum of its own. Officially, however, the Constitutions of Overseas Territories are not supposed to advance further than a stage short of full internal self government leading to independence.

Where there was once an important Ministry, the Colonial Office, dealing with Overseas Territory affairs, there is only now a small Department within the Foreign Office. Few of its officers have direct knowledge of administering dependencies. Advisers with long experience in dependencies have long gone and have not been replaced. These included the Inspector-General of Colonial Police and the Auditor General. The old cadres of Colonial Service officers such as Colonial Secretaries and Financial Secretaries, with their own professional links in Whitehall, have long gone. Local officers in these positions, however efficient, have seldom developed the same linkages. Communication between Whitehall and the Overseas Territory is confined in practice to the Governor’s Office.

There is a perception that Governors appointed from the Diplomatic Service inevitably increase control from Whitehall. The Territorial Constitution takes the Governor out of line-management. Targets, outputs, and dates for achieving targets, are set in Whitehall. They may be difficult for the Governor to reconcile with political and legislative programmes. While the FCO wishes to reinforce the Governor’s position and influence, all too often he is seen in the Territory as the fulcrum with the FCO applying the leverage.

While the paper was not designed to promote any alternative UK Government Department as being more relevant than the FCO, the deficiencies are obvious. The history is fascinating in its own right. The points he makes are relevant to the Anguilla of today. More to the point, crunch time for Anguilla in her negotiations for Constitutional advance is nigh! I still think that, as part of the exercise, we ought to be asking whether there is not some other UK Department of Government that is more relevant to Anguilla’s needs in communicating with the UK Government than the FCO is.


  1. It is time that Anguillians, not the non- Anguillians who reside here, and not the North Americans and British who have Belonger Status, make up their minds once and for all and make the choice between continued subjugation to a white foreign alien Power, or Anguillians determining their own lives.

    The British never had, does not have and will never have the interests of Anguilla and the Anguillian People in their scheme of decisions. Everything is about THEIR agenda, and THEIR International and other Obligations and Committments.


  2. IDMitchell said:
    "After the break-up of the West Indies Federation in 1962 the British Government made it clear that it would never again countenance being placed in the Associated States type of situation where it still had responsibilities but no longer had power. The official policy is to give the people of the Overseas Territories the ultimate right to choose independence"

    Is this statement intended to make Anguillians afraid to take a stand for "full internal self-government? If so, the statement does not fly.
    1. Historically it is not correct. The West Indies Federation broke up in 1962.
    2. The Associated States in the West Indies were created in 1967, five years after the break-up of the Federation.
    3. That system of governance was enjoyed by those states from 1967 until the early 1980's.
    4.As late as the early 1980's Britain was still promising to give Anguilla full responsible government.

    Mitch must remember that events make history and history shapes attitudes and policy.

    Anguilla has moved on and it is open to Anguillians to keep Britain's feet to the fire and make her keep her promises.

    The events of the Chagos Islands case and PM Gordon Browne's programme for changing the constitutional governance of UK must shape Britian's current policy to the OT's and make her change her attitude if it is indeed as firm as MItch describes.


  3. The above writer assumes that our elected leaders care more about the interests of the people than the British do. Their actions have convinced many of us otherwise.

  4. Just to remind Watchful, my post makes it clear that the text in red is quoted from the man, Russell. The words do not reflect my ideas, but those of a Colonial Office official.


  5. IDMITCH makes the case that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is not equipped to further the good governance of the Overseas Territories.

    He may be right.

    But then we must ask ourselves why we should have an incompetent and irrelevant department in the UK charged with the ultimate responsibility of running our affairs?

    Can we ask the UK government to re-construct and configure their deparatments of government so that we could have a more relevant and efficient department in Britain over-looking us?
    I am sure that they would laugh us to scorn at our audacity.

    Since we cannot be so bold as to re-structure the UK government for them, and since the department which they have designed is so out of whack to advance our interests, then surely the answer must be that it is right that we let Britian structure her own departments of government to suit herself, and she allows us the right to structure our departments of government under the principle of recognition of our right to full internal self-government.

    In all IDMITCH makes a good case for us to turn up the volume on our call for full internal self-government.


  6. Just to remind IDMITCH. Anguilla had Associated Status conferred upon it by Britain in 1976.
    That Constitution awas the one which was spearheaded by then Miss Bernice V. Lake.
    Then subsequent Governments traded the internal self- government for 30 pieces of silver, like Emile Gumbs did in 1990/91 to get the Second Nominated Member included in the Constitution, which position was then filled by Emile Gumbs with his and IDMITCH'S cousin, David Carty.


  7. Perhaps that is why anyone in the overseas teritories will soon be able to run for elected office in England as Overseas Territories MinIster. I wonder who in AXa is campaigning for the position?


  8. Probably IDMITCH. Seres himself as another Louis Constant Fleming maybe. Difference is that that type of Status will never come to Anguilla. Anguillians are not stupid. Who would want to be in a situation where you elect ONE seat in a Parliament of nearly 500 ?? One Vote of 500?? Really now.

    Et Tu Brute?

  9. Just a note to put the 1976 Constitution into perspective. There are some myths being created. Myths serve a useful social purpose. The truth is not one of them.

    In 1976, Anguilla was still legally a part of the Associated State of St Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla. It had come under the Associated State Constitution in 1967. It could not legally get a Colonial Constitution or an Independent Constitution. The only legal constitutional arrangement it could have was that of an Associated State. Only the government in St Kitts could agree to bring the Associated State relationship to an end.

    Dame Bernice Lake led the constitutional talks in 1967. She is quite capable of designing an Associated State Constitution if she had to. She did not have to do much designing or struggling in 1976. The British could not have taken away Anguilla’s Associated State status that she had acquired, even if they had wanted to do so. The only Constitution that Anguilla could possibly have got in 1976 was an Associated State Constitution.

    It was only in 1982, when St Kitts-Nevis went independent, that the St Kitts government agreed to let the Anguillian government determine what sort of Constitutional arrangement they wanted. They chose to go for Colonial Status. There was no public discussion about the new Constitution. Our negotiation team did it all with the British, in secret. We first learned about our new Constitution just a few days before it was brought into effect. That was a shocking way to go about adopting a new Constitution.

    The 2006 Constitutional Commissioners did not make that mistake. They held all their discussions in public. They submitted every suggestion that came to them to full public debate. Many Anguillians made their feelings known, whether on the website, on the radio discussion programmes, by making written presentations, and by attending the public meetings.

    We have to be vigilant to ensure that this exercise does not prove to have all been in vain.


  10. Think about it IDMITCH;

    Under the then arrangement the UK could not legally interfere with the internal affairs of the State. The consent of the State Government was required. It is factually and legally incorrect to say that the only Constitution which Uk could have agreed with Anguilla was an "Associated State" Constitution. If uk had the Right to agree a Constitution with Anguilla it could agree ANY constitution with Anguilla.
    That apart, I agree with your message immeadiately above.


  11. Justice Mitchell, please investigate the Press Report which says that the Chief Minister intends to take a paper to the House to enable Government ministers to take home as thier own vehicles bought by Government out of Public Funds. His reason they the Ministers take a lot of abuse so tghey deserve the cars.

  12. Mr. Mitchell
    the National Health Insurance Scheme:
    Why is it necessary for the Government to inflict yet another tax on Employees and Employers in order to fund the new " SCHEME" when the Social Security Fund has hundreds of millions of dollars which the Actuary says IT WILL NEVER NEED because of the rate of growth of the contributions??
    Why is it that The Government and the Board sees this TRUST FUND as a piggy bank for them to use for all sorts of manner of things NOT CONTEMPLATED by the original Legislation creating the TRUST?? Aren's these non trust expenditures wrong??

    Investigate please, Corruption Free Anguilla

  13. The previous poster says "...the Social Security Fund has hundreds of millions of dollars which the Actuary says IT WILL NEVER NEED because of the rate of growth of the contributions..."

    What is the poster's source for this information? Is this written in a document? Who has it and what do I have to do to see it?


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