18 January, 2008

Nothing More

Time for Written Submissions to the Foreign Affairs Committee has been Extended to 31 January. There has been no announcement in Anguilla. Not by government. Not in the local press. Not on a single radio station. There has been a deathly hush all over. No, it is neither a conspiracy nor fear. It is pure indifference. We Anguillians have it good. Financially, at least. We have no time for concerns about where our island is going. We are busy earning a dollar. We have not a moment to give a thought for the island our children will inherit. After all, we do not have the time to give them breakfast or a lunch package in the morning when they set off to school. We give each of them a hundred dollar bill, and tell them to buy breakfast and lunch on the road. You cannot expect more loving care from us than that!

The British FAC is making an inquiry into how our Overseas Territories are governed. They have invited written as well as oral submissions. Any one of us can write to the Committee. We can express any concern we might have about some matter of good, indifferent or bad governance. I seriously doubt any of us in Anguilla has written in. Well, we have until January 31 to do so. That is the new, extended, closing date for making written submissions to the FAC.

Compare our situation to that of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands. The TCI have a transparent system when it comes to tenders. So says Premier Michael Misick.

In TCI, there is a process in place at ministerial level for the allocation of Crown land. Parliament has a register of interests. The government is in the process of putting anti-corruption legislation in place to ensure that corruption does not rear its ugly head in that Territory. The police are within the ambit of the governor. There is an independent non-political Attorney-General responsible for prosecutions. Belonger status is given by the entire Cabinet, and not by one person. The Governor is the chairperson of Cabinet, and does not have to accept the advice of Cabinet. Our Anguillian public service and elected officials have much a greater autonomy than the government of TCI. Most of these checks and balances found in the TCI do not apply in Anguilla. Belonger status is given in Anguilla by an expert committee set up by a law. Our governor is obliged to accept the advice of our ExCo. Our parliamentarians do not have to disclose their assets to anyone. We could do with some of those TCI provisions in Anguilla.

Yet, in spite of these safeguards, accusations from TCI citizens continue to pour into the FAC about the poor level of governance in the TCI. According Mike Gapes MP, chairperson of the FAC, over one third of all written submissions received by the FAC from all the Overseas Territories put together have come from the TCI. This suggests an extraordinary degree of concern among the citizens of that Territory. Compare that with Anguilla, where there is no hint that any person has made any written submission to it. That, in spite of the many problems with governance that we all know about.

There is still time for you to change your mind. It is all our duty to be concerned about integrity in public life in Anguilla. You might try accessing the FAC website. There you will get all the information you will need on how to make a written submission to the FAC. You have until 31 January.

A report on the Overseas Territories will be produced at the end of the Inquiry, for submission to the House of Commons and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. It would be sad to read in it that no one in Anguilla had anything to say.

Me? I made all my contribution when the Constitutional Commissioners delivered their report to government on 26 August 2006. I have nothing further of value to add!


  1. At last count there were 54 written submissions, including ones from little Pitcairn Island, population 54, and Tristan da Cunha, population 281. Quite a few are from Chief Ministers or governments. Ours hasn't bothered.

    Nor has our government bothered to tell us that we have the right to submit comments. Neither has the useless Governor Smiley.

  2. It is highly unlikely that the FAC will see the Constitutional Commission's report unless you send them a copy. Our leaders certainly won't. The FCO most definitely won't. It is a brilliant and important document and says a lot about all the Overseas Territories, not just Anguilla.

    You can take a copy over to the Governor's office and they'll send it in the bag. The FCO will pay the "postage." It's only right.

  3. But for your blog, Don, we wouldn't have known. It is quite mind blowing that this was not mentioned in the report in this week's Anguillian on the visit of the FCO representative. If one was ever in any doubt, that surely confirms the irrelevancy of Anguilla's so-called press.

    It has been said that those who care don't matter and that those who matter don't care.

    Those who care: for heaven's sake make yourselves matter. Write to the FAC and let them see in writing what is really going on in Anguilla.

    It is not enough that Mr Leigh Turner from the FCO heard some informal views from Anguillians when he visited Anguilla this week. If there is nothing in writing to back up his "impressions", the Committee will have nothing to get their teeth into. However sceptical you may be about the likely effect, if you don't write you will be joining the ranks of those who don't care (and you will matter even less).

  4. "Determined" is confused about the relationship between Leigh Turner and the Foreign Affairs Committee. It's not like in Anguilla, where four people run everything.

    Leigh Turner is Governor Smiley's boss. It is the Governor's job to see that nothing happens in Anguilla that will embarrass the FCO in Parliament or the media. It is Turner's job to see that nothing happens in any of the Overseas Territories that will embarrass the Foreign Secretary in Parliament or the media. If either of these two men do anything that benefits the people of Anguilla, it's just a coincidence.

    They are, for example, a major deterrent to corruption. It's not that they really care if we have corrupt leaders; it's that they don't want the stink of it detected in London.

    The Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee is the official bipartisan watchdog that reports on what the Foreign Office and its functionaries, including Turner and Smiley, aren't doing effectively and how much British taxpayers' money they're wasting. The Committee have shown themselves to be objective, effective and reasonably honest. They are assisted by Committee staff who are dedicated, professional and extremely knowledgeable. Reports get written and published, events are analysed and assessed, and excuses and platitudes are exposed. These are real reports containing real information, not just the tiresome Nat Hodge editorials of which we are so fond. People read them. Even the Foreign Secretary reads them. Heads roll. This is how policy is made in real democracies.

    Those who tell us all them Brits are conspiring together against us are using the tactics of Hermann Goering to advance their own failing political dreams.

    Do not infer from this that I am a United Front loyalist. The only thing worse than those in Anguilla who are determining our children's future are those who dream of replacing them.

    If I may quote the deathless words of Dr. Hoyoung, "This cannot no longer be tolerated."

  5. Determined is not confused at all. Both he and the previous commentator are saying one and the same thing: don't imagine that comments to foreign office representative are worth a dime. If you care about the future of Anguilla at all, write to the FAC by the deadline date of 31st January.

  6. A reminder that today is the deadline.

    Where does the first poster get the information from regarding where the written submissions have come from?

  7. The index to the written submissions now on line may be found at

    Many more have been submitted but are not yet posted online.


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