30 June, 2008

Chagos Case

The hearing by the House of Lords begins this morning. No need to recap the details of the story. Every one who follows the saga of Britain’s modern relationship with the Overseas Territories knows them. They constitute one of the most cynical examples of geo-politics played by the metropolitan powers at the cost of the lives and property of us unwitting colonials.

Every now and then a human-interest gloss helps to bring home the true nature and consequences of political decisions. Such is the article by Elizabeth Mistry in a Scottish newspaper, the Sunday Herald. If you do click on the link, and read the article, it would be useful to see readers from the Overseas Territories filling out the little form and sending a comment to the newspaper. I liked the comment posted by Iain Orr. He went to the heart of the matter:

This article really brought out the human dimension of this sad saga. The abuse of the Chagossians by the UK and US governments has undermined their global crusade for justice. I had hoped Brown would be better than Blair. However, he has now found another way to mismanage public finances – letting the FCO waste money begging the Law Lords to deny the Chagossians their right of return. Given that the Court of Appeal found the FCO’s attempt to deny that right “an abuse of power on the part of executive government”, this is more money down the drain.”

The hearing begins at 11:00 am GMT in Committee Room 4A. The room holds approximately 70 seats. With the usual security checks, it is advisable to get there before 10:30 am. Police permission has been obtained to mount a peaceful protest outside the House starting at 9:00 am. All are most welcome to join in. The greater the numbers, the better. Don’t forget to wear your “Let Them Return” badge. You can get one at the protest for £2.00 a time.

An article by Duncan Campbell in Saturday's Guardian recaps the basic facts. I liked his opening paragraph:

“If there is a clanking sound in the corridors of parliament on Monday, it could well be "the chains of the ghosts of the past" - the phrase used by high court judges to describe the Foreign Office's behaviour towards a small group of Indian Ocean islanders who next week take a strange and shocking case to the law lords.”

You can make a comment on his article as well.

The International Herald Tribune has a short story. It focuses on the interests of the United States:

U.S. military authorities have expressed fears that any attempt to resettle any of the islands would compromise the security of Diego Garcia. The base has been used for Iraq and Afghanistan operations.

As someone pointed out, maybe it is just as well that myth is spreading. It gives the FCO a way out for their outrageous behaviour in appealing the Court of Appeal ruling to the House of Lords. When they lose the appeal, they can always save face by claiming, “We only appealed because our uncaring, warmongering US allies asked us to.”

28 June, 2008

Reverse Osmosis

Water Corporation of Anguilla. I want to go back to a topic that concerns me. I wrote about it two weeks ago. The comments that were posted in response did not answer any of the issues.

We have no regulations controlling the disposal of waste in Anguilla. Waste is dumped all over the island. There is no limit on the type of waste that we can dump, or where we can dump it. Every kind of poisonous material is dumped all over the island, not only at the public landfill at Corito.

Much of our solid waste contains poisons that will eventually do us damage. Particularly vulnerable are foetuses and growing children. As this waste rusts and breaks down, the heavy metals in it leach into the ground and filter down to the water table. There, it accumulates until we suck it up in a well and sell it to the people.

The danger of drinking Anguilla's ground water was one of the main reasons we were told why the reverse osmosis plant at Crocus Bay was obliged to bring sea water from far out to sea. They treat sea water and used it to supply the island with safe, drinkable water. They are not allowed to treat the ground water, though this would be much cheaper than sea water.

The main pollutants that we should be concerned about are the heavy metals. Excessive levels of aluminium, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, nickel, phosphorous, thallium, and zinc, in our water supply, will eventually poison us. There are 23 heavy metals in all. These metals leach into the water from ordinary household waste that we dump.

Reverse osmosis does not remove these poisons from the ground water. Highly specialised machinery is required to remove these poisons from our ground water. We have no plan to purchase and run such equipment.

Reverse osmosis is a process that removes sodium chloride from water. That means it filters out the salt. It does not “clean up” anything else that may be in the ground water. Adding chlorine to water does not assist, except to kill the e-coli bacteria that seep into the water table from our septic tanks.

If you want to learn more for yourself about this problem, Google “heavy metal poisoning” or “cleaning heavy metals”.

Why in the world would we want to go back to trying to “treat” Anguilla's ground water? Because it is cheaper!! Cheaper for whom? And, for how long until the medical bills start piling up?

Any new reverse osmosis plant in Anguilla should be obliged to use sea water for the health and safety of children not yet born.

26 June, 2008

Free Cars

Free Cars. I have heard it on the radio. I have heard it on the television news. Government has given the Hon Hubert Hughes the keys to a brand new Toyota car purchased with public funds. According to the news, the Hon Edison Baird opted for the money instead as he already had a car.

I heard the debate in the House of Assembly a couple of months ago. It was said then that the government had decided that when any minister chose to go home and not to run in general elections again, he would be allowed to keep his official government car. That would be a free car purchased out of our taxes for every member of the governing party! No one in the House objected.

I understand there was a lot of disquiet on the street about this suggestion.

I am pleased to see the courageous and spirited way in which Haydn Hughes and other young persons are debating the propriety of this gift on the thread on Anguilla Talk titled "Vehicle for Mr Hubert Hughes".

I checked the Financial Audit and Administration Act. It seems to me that the Accountant General could only authorise these payments if they are sanctioned by an Appropriation Act.

Will public criticism of government ministers giving themselves private vehicles purchased with our tax dollars be stilled and calmed by their first giving all the members of the Loyal Opposition brand new cars, or their value?

Will someone tell me under what authority the Governor in Council can transfer ownership of any public property, including a government car, to a Minister?

Under what law can the government authorise the use of public funds to purchase a car for all members of the Opposition?

Can the House of Assembly ever authorise the giving away of government property without the overriding sanction of a law?

And, if they pass a law to approve a questionable transaction, does that make it any more ethical and acceptable?

It is probably the intention to introduce into the House of Assembly at some later date a Supplementary Appropriation Bill to authorise this payment from public funds. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, in the House speaks and votes against it.

25 June, 2008


To Strengthen Participatory Democracy. As we prepare for the run up to the 2010 general elections in Anguilla, a little review may be useful. The United Front Government has been in power now for two terms of five years each. Most of the politicians in power have been in office in one government or the other for the past five terms of five years each. They are experienced. They are good at winning. They know how to sound good. Their best promises are collected together in what is called a manifesto.

The United Front Political Manifesto was published on the internet in the year 2000. It is still there for you to read if you click on the link. The did not republish it on the internet for the 2005 elections. I have a paper copy, and it did not significantly alter. This is what they said were their general political objectives as they asked the people to elect them in 2000:




“The United Front is committed to the development of democracy and freedom and the maintenance and protection of the right of the people of Anguilla to self-determination”.


At the political level the general objectives of the United Front will be to:

a) Strengthen participatory democracy and the empowerment of the people of Anguilla through:

i) Expanding press freedom; and

ii) Promoting and supporting efforts to increase access by the people of Anguilla to the various forms of the media;

b) Return Anguilla to political stability;

c) Re-establish good governance and excellence in the operations of the various institutions of the Government;

d) Ensure that the principle of collective responsibility is observed by the members of the ANA-ADP United Front Administration and that the Ministers of Government operate as a team;

e) Achieve the political and constitutional advancement and maturing of the Anguillian political system particularly by:

i) Undertaking a major review of the Anguilla Constitution and electoral system; and

ii) Increasing the level of national and community consciousness, pride commitment and unity;

f) Increase the degree of transparency, openness and accountability to the people of Anguilla; and

g) Strengthen commitment to the basic principles of democracy in the wider community.”

Well, you tell me. Does it not sound good? No doubt, these promises helped them to win the elections. I have been an avid United Front supporter since day one. I voted for them then and I will doubtless vote for them again the next time. Not that my candidate has won for the past two elections!

Did they achieve any of these promised objectives?

Does anyone care if these words turned out to be hollow?

How long before they take these promises seriously?

Are we, their supporters, not the ones who should be complaining if we do not see increased transparency, openness and accountability? Who else cares?

22 June, 2008


Why are all those Asian boutiques and shops being allowed to open up in Anguilla? I well remember Ronald Webster announcing in about 1980 that he would never permit Asian merchants to set up shop in Anguilla. His concern was that, with their world-wide networks and connections, they would kill business for local merchants. How things have changed!

Who says that Anguillians cannot be entrepreneurs too? Someone sent me a link to a page on eBay. It was obviously put there by an enterprising Anguillian. It reads:

“SOLID 14k Yellow Gold

Retail $1,195 (The starting price as well as the buy it now price can not be touched out there. I encourage you to look around and see the price out there for yourself) . . .

I also wanted to give you some information on where this beautiful treasure came from!

The Shipwreck of El Buen Consejo
In 1772, El Buen Consejo-[Our Lady of] The Good Counsel-sailed from Spain, bringing 52 Franciscan missionaries and thousands of bronze religious medallions to the New World. The ship, however, wrecked in the Caribbean, off the coast of Anguilla, leaving the precious cargo on the sea floor, undisturbed for 225 years. In 1986, the treasure was discovered. These medallions are first generation replicas of the originals, offered for sale to help preserve and develop the site, in cooperation with Anguilla Maritime Research Ltd., and the government of Anguilla.

This is an absolutly breathtaking piece. When you hold it in your hands as you feel the weight the strength and energy of what it represents is captivating. This will be past down from generation to generation.”

How do I know an Anguillian is responsible? Well, at the end of the second to last paragraph it says that these gold replica medallions are offered for sale “in cooperation with . . . the government of Anguilla.” The dead giveaway is the last sentence of the last paragraph: “This will be past down from generation to generation.” The whole of the last paragraph, with its typing errors, its absence of commas to indicate where the parentheses are, and the confusion between the past participle and the adjective, are breathtaking for me.

What I really want to know is, Which part of the government of Anguilla is involved in this enterprise?

And, how much of the proceeds of sale will “help preserve and develop the site”?

You can read it for yourself by clicking here.

21 June, 2008


Biodiversity and Heritage Conservation. Now, I hear that a new Biodiversity and Heritage Conservation Act is in circulation. A new Anguilla National Trust Act has been published to a limited number of persons.

It seems that the two of them will be bundled together and submitted to the House of Assembly by the end of September and enacted into law later this year.

As a package, they will give sweeping powers and responsibilities to the government's Department of the Environment.

We want to know, will the many valuable heritage possessions presently in private ownership be given over to this Department?

Will private museums, and efforts by civil society to promote heritage and culture, be made redundant?

Will government now do it all for us? And, we know how efficient and reliable government services are.

Is it true that the Anguilla National Trust Council will be severely truncated? Is it the plan to remove the Anguilla Archaeological and Historical Society from representation on the Council?

It is difficult for us in Anguilla to find out what is really going on in our government.

We do not have a Freedom of Information Act.

We do not have questions raised in parliament.

Other than the Dolphin case, we do not have public interest litigation.

We do not have transparent procurement practices in the public service.

We do not ask government to make available to us, the public, technical studies paid for by taxpayers.

We do not have committees of parliament investigating any issue.

We do not have commissions of inquiry.

We do not ask government to reveal how much public money is spent on fees for professional services.

Our voices are not raised against the curtailment of the people's right to information on how our money is being spent.

There is no wind of change blowing through the country.

National consciousness is not awakening. Civil society has not woken up from its slumbering.

There are no voices being raised in protest over any matter.

All this, just in comparison with the previous post on Trinidad below.

I have tried to get copies of the above Bills. I have been rebuffed. It seems that they are secret state papers. I may even have their titles incorrect. Only government favourites have access to this type of information. No independent voices are welcome in official circles. Only after government has discussed the Bills, and made their minds up about what exactly they will pass into law, will the drafts be shown to us for comment. What use is it to invite public comment when the officials have already made their minds up?

I am the secretary of the Anguilla Archaeological and Historical Society. Do you think that, just maybe, the Society might want to see a copy of what will seriously affect them? And, just maybe, give some useful input? Might we not have a claim, even, to be entitled?

No wonder no one responds to invitations to comment on draft legislation, except to occasionally explode into public protest, as happened recently with the Planning Bill and the Labour Bill.

The whole process of policy development and legislation in Anguilla is so flawed it would be laughable if it were not so serious a problem.

20 June, 2008


UK Chagos Support Association. The UK Chagos Support Association has just circulated this notice. I thought you would want to know, in case any of you will be in London in late June.

As you probably already know, the Foreign Office Appeal to the House of Lords begins on Monday 30th June. If anyone wants to show support for the Chagossians, they will be meeting up from 9.00 outside the Houses of Parliament to attend the hearing.”

One of the most egregious continuing abuses of colonial power in recent years appears to be about to receive the death blow. The chickens are coming home to roost.

Great ferment has recently been stirred up in Anguilla over the continuing existence of “orders in council”. Given that the abuse in question revolved around the use of an order in council to deport the citizens and residents of Diego Garcia to make space for a US military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean, I am sure that all of us in Anguilla will be following the argument with some anticipation.

19 June, 2008


Trinidad and Tobago Transparency International. The following letter was sent by TTTI to the three major newspapers in Trinidad. Does it, I wonder, have any lessons for us here in Anguilla?


16 June 2008

Dear Editor,

People’s right to know

The Trinidad and Tobago Transparency Institute (TTTI) has had cause in the past to voice its concerns over Government’s selective use of transparency in its approach to governance.

In 2001, Government inherited the Freedom of Information Act from the previous administration and, in the ensuing years, reduced its effectiveness by exempting from the Act first the Central Bank and then selected State-funded agencies. This was a major curtailment by Government of the people’s right to information and, at that time, very few Civil Society voices were raised in protest.

Next we saw Government’s habitual delays in answering questions raised in Parliament and, in some cases, either refusing to answer or giving very limited information. This trend continues today.

Government also attempted to limit citizens’ right to bring public interest litigation against the state by proposing revisions to the Judicial Review Act.

Public procurement practices are replete with examples of Government’s unwillingness to provide timely information to the public whose money is being spent. One example is the continued refusal by Government, in the face of many calls from TTTI and others, to make public the technical studies (paid for by taxpayers) which the Prime Minister and the Line Minister told Parliament recommended the adoption of the multi-billion dollar Rapid Rail System over other less expensive options.

More recently, Government sought to protect UDeCoTT from public scrutiny in the face of serious concerns voiced and allegations made by many respected persons and organisations in the society. Eventually, Government bowed to the pressure of those calls but still sought to control the process by opting for a Joint Selective Committee of Parliament and only later agreeing to the Commission of Enquiry called for.

The latest example of the lack of transparency was seen when Government refused to disclose in Parliament how much of taxpayers’ money was spent on fees for professional services on the dubious grounds of protecting the recipient’s rights to privacy.

We note that some important independent voices have been raised against this latest curtailment of the people’s right to information on how their money is being spent. More Civil Society organisations should raise their voices in protest over this latest development. Government’s decision in this matter must be reversed because of its far-reaching implications.

TTTI senses that there is a wind of change blowing through this country and bringing with it more national consciousness. Civil Society seems to have awakened from its slumber hence the many voices being heard today in protest over the UDeCOTT matter, escalating crime, high food prices, failures in the education and health systems, infrastructure inadequacies etc

This awakening is good for our democracy but Civil Society must go further and insist on its right to information and it’s acceptance by Government as a partner in the governance of the country. Civil Society must also insist on its voice being heard and listened to and its suggestions acted upon by Government. Civil Society must demand a culture of consultation and a truly participatory democracy for our country and accept nothing less.

Yours truly,

Victor Hart,


14 June, 2008

Silly Season

Silly Season. That's what the press calls the month when all the important people go away on holiday. There is no news to report. So, they report silly stories like, “Man bites dog.” It is now only June, but it is silly season in Anguilla. There is nothing worth reporting in the newspapers. Nothing on the radio.

No one has emailed me with any new stories about maladministration in the public service. Nothing about any of the projects being about to fail due to wasteful management. Nothing about the test results on Anguilla's water table.

Was I mistaken, or did I hear on radio a boast from the new water corporation that we are going to abandon the use of desalinized sea water? Desalinized well-water will be cheaper, I heard. We have been consuming desalinized sea water for the past couple of years. Some sixty-five percent (65%) of it is said to be wasted. Illegal hook-ups that we do nothing to prosecute is part of the problem. Leaking joints due to faulty plumbing causes the rest.

Instead, we are going to use the water in Anguilla's water table. I thought we abandoned that resource years ago due to the pollution. Going back to that source will somehow cure the leaking joints?

Hopefully, the leachate problem has been solved. Either that, or, ten years after the change-over, increasing numbers of babies can be expected to be born with three legs and no brain. That won't be silly at all.

09 June, 2008


Is it Ever Acceptable for an Attorney to Ask a Minister to Do a Favour for a Client? I do not normally respond to jibes and insults. Any blogger who opens fire in the direction of others must expect to be fired back at. However, there was one comment posted on ‘Big Chief” that requires a response. The anonymous commentator, among other things, said,

“All of you, including Brent, have on occasions requested some Government Minister to address a problem you faced from the Civil Service Staff. To assist you in a situation not to your liking but which may have been in strict compliance with a Law or Regulation. You were all granted your assistance. Its no different now.
Why the sudden ‘Virtue’?”

It is a corrupt form of government that permits a Minister to bend the law for a favoured supporter. It is dangerous and corrupt for a lawyer to ask a Minister for a special favour. That is unacceptable conduct under any system of government. Ours is a small society. There are so many petty spites and hurts. There are so many cousins and supporters who come seeking a favour. It is a particularly pernicious and evil system in a society such as ours.

Our representatives are elected to the House of Assembly to represent all the people’s interests. They select the Executive branch of government from among themselves. The Executive branch develops national policy. They bring that policy to the members of the Legislature as a Bill or Motion. The Legislature debates the Bill, and passes it into law, or rejects it. The Judges adjudicate when there is a dispute between citizen and citizen, or citizen and government. The Public Service reads the law passed by the Legislature. They apply that law impartially and fairly to all citizens. They make no exception, except within the bounds set by the law. That is our Westminster-style Constitution at work in its ideal form.

No Minister is permitted to contact a public servant and tell him or her to make an exception for a favourite of the Minister. Nor, can a Minister ring up a public servant and tell him or her to treat one citizen more severely than another. We are supposed to have a system of government of laws, and not of men. That is how we ensure government works fairly and equitably.

What Brent was complaining about is that in Anguilla we do not have a system of government by law. He was suggesting that here, a particular favoured contractor can go to a Minister and get a work permit approved, when that work permit was disapproved of by the Labour Department officer who was only applying the government’s policy and the law.

We would not have a system of government by law and not of men if a foreign employer were to fire an Anguillian employee for stealing, and the Chief Minister could tell the employer that he either re-hires the employee or he loses his work permit. That is a system of government that Anguillians want to avoid.

That is the system of government they have in Antigua and Grenada and St Vincent. That is how VC Bird and Eric Gairy operated. We do not want it in Anguilla.

I cannot speak for Brent. I can only speak for myself. I practiced law in St Kitts between 1971 and 1976. I never approached a Minister and asked him to make an exception for a client.

I practised law in Anguilla between 1980 and my retirement in 1999. I had many clients who needed licences and permits. I helped them by advising them of their rights and of the procedures under our law. I made the application for them. Then, I left it to the Administration to apply their laws and policies. I expected them to be impartial and fair. I never once approached a Minister of Government for a favour of any kind.

Ministers of Government came to my office for legal services. I charged them a fee. I never performed free legal services for a single one of them. I would not have wanted them to think they owed me a favour.

I would be ashamed to think that a single present-day lawyer in Anguilla behaves otherwise.

The comment in question quoted above is not only not true, it reflects badly on whomsoever wrote it.

07 June, 2008


Tell the People the Truth! There is a joke among lawyers. It is supposedly advice on strategy being given by an old lawyer to a young one. It goes like this.

When the law is against you, rely on the facts. When the facts are against you, rely on the law. When the facts and the law are against you, attack your opponent’s integrity.”

It is only partly a joke. It is a good description of the tactics frequently used by unscrupulous lawyers to confuse the adjudicator. The reason the tactic is used so often is that, transparent though it often is, unethical as it always is, it so often succeeds. Otherwise intelligent people fall for it over and over again. So, I was not surprised when someone anonymously posted a personal attack on me as a “comment” on my latest post below. He or she wrote in part,

“It is quite obvious that you are pro-colonialism. Are you suggesting that Anguilla will dissolve into chaos if Anguillians are Self-Governing? Is it that you believe that Osbourne Fleming, Victor Banks, Albert Hughes, Eddie Baird, McNeil Rogers, Kenneth Harrigan and Hubert Hughes are incapable, in any permutation, of governing Anguilla properly and in the Best interests of the People of Anguilla? Or is it that you are of the view that English people are more capable, by virtue of evolution, in the field of Governance?

It is a rhetorical question, of course. It does not expect an answer. Its purpose is to attack the loyalty and patriotism of the author of this blog. Accusing a West Indian of being “pro-British” is one of the easiest ways of condemning him in an uncritical public mind. Persons who look at skin-colour and stop thinking may be easily persuaded to believe the worse. The misrepresentation of what I have been warning about needs no comment. It will be transparently clear to anyone who has been reading my posts.

The Westminster-style Constitution traditionally places a minimum of emphasis on creating and installing institutions and mechanisms to secure integrity, transparency and accountability. That system has been described in the past with some justification, because of its lack of checks and balances, as a dictatorship of the Prime Minister. No matter how gentlemanly our present representatives are, we do not know who our government will be in the future. We need a system that will guarantee our freedoms if our future leaders turn out to be not what we expected. We must have a system where increased power in the hands of our ministers is checked by procedures to correct any mischief that might occur. Those twin objectives would have been achieved if the recommendations of the Anguillians contained in the 2006 Report of the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Commission had been implemented.

It is noticeable that the BVI and the TCI have negotiated, just last year, new Constitutions that significantly reduce the power of the FCO to interfere in internal matters and transfer to local institutions most of the powers previously enjoyed by the Governor. But, they neither demanded nor received “full internal self-government”. They are enjoying the benefits of a modern Constitution and a modern relationship with the British. No doubt, when they are ready, they will seek full political independence. But, they recognise they are not ready for it. Cayman Islands have just published their constitutional proposals. They do not demand full internal self-government. And, they are even richer and more financially self-reliant than we in Anguilla are.

The British have said that we must not come to them with a demand for full internal self-government unless we are prepared to accept a short timetable for independence. Our representatives have repeatedly told us that they are not interested in political independence at this time. But, they will demand full internal self-government for Anguilla. The two positions are at odds with each other. They are on a collision course. They are incompatible. Something will have to give. Either it will be the negotiating team that will settle for something less than their maximum demand. Or, it will be the British who will force us into an unplanned and unprepared-for independence. Either way, we lose.

In 2006 the Anguillians said that it was time to reduce the powers of the British in Anguilla, but that that must be accompanied by checks and balances. They did not recommend that we confront the British with a demand for full internal self-government. Will the same Anguillians be stampeded in 2008 into accepting full political independence under a Westminster-style Constitution before the necessary mechanisms for the protection of our life, liberty and property are put in place?

Will our leaders come to their senses and negotiate for what amounts in practice to full internal self-government, without waving that red flag in the face of the bull? That is what the people said they want.

We patiently await the draft of the promised Constitution. When we see that, we will know whether our leaders are honestly preparing to negotiate in our best interests. Or, we will see whether they are selling us a pig in a poke that will only increase their own powers over us.

Either way, I’ll be sure to tell you what I think.

No more shallow thinking, please.

04 June, 2008


All Members of the House of Assembly Form a United Front. Everyone in Anguilla is commenting on the current unity of interest being shown by the elected members of the House of Assembly. All seven of them appear regularly on public forums, sitting together and agreeing with one another. They appear to be singing in harmony from the same song sheet. It is not a phenomenon we are accustomed to. Normally, they bicker continuously among themselves.

Momentum is building up. Village and constituency meetings are being held all over the island. For the first time since the last elections, significant crowds of citizens are coming out to hear and support the speakers and panelists. A sort of election fever is heating up. The chorus of “full internal self-government” is now being sung loudly and clearly and in unison. The issue that is gaining everyone’s attention is opposition to continued rule over the island’s affairs by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All the elected representatives are singing the same tune. Down with Orders in Council! Unity runs so high that bills and motions proposed by government representatives are taken up enthusiastically by members of the opposition. Not a word of opposition is heard, in or out of the House.

So, the question today is, what is happening?

Those of us who have been around for a few years will not have failed to notice that general elections are just around the corner. The House of Assembly’s life comes to an end in early 2010. Elections must be held by April of that year at the latest. What is a politician’s most powerful motive? To get reelected, of course! A popular platform is a sure help in this process. What better subject than “freedom from the foreign oppressor”? After all, it has proven successful in the past all over the world. The book is a best seller. It is a song the words of which are known by heart.

The FCO can be relied on to feed the fire. They have repeatedly stated that they will not entertain a move for full internal self-government, except within the framework of a short timetable for independence. Both government and opposition members of the House have stated that they are not interested in political independence for Anguilla at this time. There is no evidence of a widespread interest in the country for independence. The classic foundations for a dispute are forming up.

It was noticeable on Anguilla Day that the crowd in the stands sat stoically while the police band played the National Anthem. Only the dignitaries under their special tent felt obliged to stand up. The crowd in the stands only jumped to their feet when the tune of the National Song began. The evidence is clear. The message is sinking in. There is a common enemy we must unite against. And, thank God, they are foreigners! This is so much better for a country’s soul than an internal dispute and a fragmented nation!

It is going to be an uphill battle for the new crop of candidates. Not only do they have to struggle against the natural advantage enjoyed by the incumbents. The old war horses have begun to paint themselves as the radical patriots. Will the young and coming politicians find an alternative issue that can capture the imagination of the electorate? To have any hope of success in the coming struggle, they will have to find a platform of their own that will distinguish them from the present crop of representatives. They cannot be seen to oppose “full internal self-government”. That would be to tar themselves with the charge of lack of patriotism. A young politician does not win an election by swimming against the current.

What does it all mean? The next two years are going to be difficult ones for the relationship between the FCO and the Anguillian people. Turmoil is coming. What will be the long-term effect? Will our leaders be able to control it? Will they succeed in using the issue to win another term, and then let things calm down? Or, will matters get out of hand, and political excitement turn into civil unrest? That is not in the best interests of anyone of us trying to earn a living and pay our mortgage.

We shall just have to wait and see.