12 August, 2010


We are looking at my preliminary views on Kate Sullivan’s Initial Recommendations for constitutional and electoral reform for the Turks & Caicos Islands.  I urge you to read them if you have not already done so.  It may not be long before they are being proposed for Anguilla.  That should concern all of us. 
Yesterday we looked in 5 numbered paragraphs at the historical documents that established the interest of the British Government and the governments and people of the British Overseas Territories in establishing the three principles of transparency, accountability and the rule of law in all of our Overseas Territories.  We now continue at paragraph six.
[6]        It is in the light of these three underlying principles that one reads what Ms Sullivan sets out as some of the features of the TCI Constitution that are not to be the subject of the current review.  She lists them as:
·                    That the executive authority – that is, the power to govern – is held by The Queen;
·                    That the Governor is appointed by The Queen on the advice of UK Ministers and that the Governor exercises the executive authority on behalf of The Queen;
·                    That the Queen retains the power to legislate for all matters of government in the Islands, including those that are the responsibility of elected ministers; and
·                    That certain responsibilities – defined in the current Constitution as the ‘special responsibilities’ – are retained by the Governor and are not subject to the control of elected TCI ministers, but are subject to Constitutional limitation in their exercise, including through the fundamental rights provisions;
·                    That the Governor will retain the power to legislate for some matters of government in the Islands, as long as these matters are specified in the Constitution.
[7]        One reads the above words with a mounting sense of concern and dismay.  Points 3 and 5 are particularly disturbing.  The Queen will retain the power to legislate for matters that are the responsibility of elected ministers?  And, the Governor will retain the power to legislate for some matters of government? 
One would have thought that by now the FCO legal advisers were aware that an undemocratic form of government is the opposite of good governance.  Bad governance has flourished in the Overseas Territories under the supervision and tutelage of the FCO.  When unelected officials have the power to legislate in place of elected members of a House of Assembly, that is no assurance of an improvement.  Local politicians may not have the highest integrity, morals or standards.  But, at least they are accountable to the electorate. 
Foreign officials are not accountable.  Some of them are incompetent and others do not have a care for the interests of the people they are supposed to help govern.  When power is transferred from the elected ministers to the Governor, we depend for good governance on the character of the man, not on an institution designed to guarantee democracy and good governance.  A strong and fair Governor may well do no harm and may do some good.  A weak and accommodating Governor is unlikely to make good use of his increased powers. 
The whole notion of replacing democracy by the arbitrary rule of one individual is offensive.
To be continued …
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  1. Don: Are Ms. Sullivan's recommendations only applicable until a new constitution is applied for T&C, or will they remain in effect afterwards? If it is the former, it only makes sense that the counrty will be administered by the Crown through the Governor, though why she refers to "elected ministers" seems obscure in this situation.

  2. The answer is that the recommendations are for a new Constitution. They are not related to the present situation, where the Constitution has been suspended in part. These are proposals designed to provide for a new system of government to be introduced under a new Constitution.


  3. Forgive me, but to a casual observer, it looks like political and economic authority in Anguilla already rests with a handful of individuals -- native Anguillians who aren't equal to the task of governance. A dozen or so surnames always show up.

    Do you seriously believe that Anguilla wouldn't benefit from political and economic governance by intelligent, professional--dare I say it--bureaucrats?

  4. Anonymous, August 1, 2010 7:14PM: You are obviously a foreigner and a non West Indian who think only North Americans and Europeans are "..intelligent, professional-dare I say- it--bureaucrats?"
    You think that only the White Man has the ability to govern properly. Check out the many scandals that occured with the British Labour Government.

    Your Racist use of the term "native Anguillians" betray your systemic inferiority and hatred for black people. Either shut up, or if you are in Anguilla, leave and go back to your White Country!

    "Casual observer" ,my Hee Haw! You are a blatant Racist. Begone you evil person!

  5. Thank you for making my point for me.

  6. the issue is one of competence not of color. But, I believe the “native Anguillians” had their origin in South America (Colombia-Venezuela) long before those of European or African decent place a foot on the shores. So leave the color out of it and focus on the competency issue which is what affects your lives today.

  7. Precisely. If the native Anguillians were Caucasians of Norwegian ancestry and demonstrated the same lack of competence, my point would be the same.

  8. Every time I read a bewildering post such as Anonymous' on August 13, 10:31 AM crying the utterly unfounded epithets of racism/colonialism/slavery, I am reminded of the Monty Python Luxury Yacht sketch, which goes like this:

    Host: “Good evening. I have with me in the studio tonight one of the country’s leading skin specialists, Raymond Luxury Yacht.”

    Raymond Luxury Yacht: “That’s not my name!”

    Host: “I’m sorry. Raymond Luxury YaCHt.”

    Raymond Luxury Yacht: “No, no, no. It’s spelled Raymond Luxury YaCHt, but it’s pronounced Throat Wobbler Mangrove.”

    Host: “You’re a very silly man and I’m not going to interview you.”

    Raymond Luxury Yacht: “Ah! Anti-Semitism!”

    Res ipsa loquitor.

  9. No more of this dialogue will be allowed by me. I am not interested, nor are my readers.


  10. To IDM
    you let them thru your screening process!!

    Furteher I vaguely recall Fanon having finished the argument for us all.
    'Don't ask if Africa can govern itself; ask if Europe can govern itself'.

    Clearly good governance will only come through trials and tribulations of a people or their ability to observe themslves in action and those around them.

    Buh de when monkey clim nuh only he ass get espohs buh de shit splatta farda

    Addittionally across the Caribbean there is a litter of evidence of failed and botched imported beauracracies from the 'METROPOL'.(the beauracracies were built on quicksands of greed and exploitation and were destined to fail).

    Yet I leave you to your disclaimer of the unknowing 'CASUAL OBSERVER'.

    Language is a living idea. The context and history and region and culture and class where words are used and bandied about throw varied lights and insights on what one wishes to express and expound upon.
    In the Commonwealth,in particular the Caribbean commonwealth,the word 'native' evokes a powerful emotion of denigration in the one so addressed. In my reading of history, I gather this to be so also in India, South Africa,Rhodesia. It is also remarkable that Angola, Martinique and Guadeloupe evpress the said sentiments.
    Nevertheless one would chose a blog based in Anguilla, widely read and discussed in Anguilla, frequently commented on by Anguillians, and the to proceed to, ahem, proclaim you wish for reasonable discussions to be held afte assaulting a peoples sensibilities.

    Start over with the apologies first.


  11. As one of many Caribbean men, who have never in their adult lives been denigrated or demonized because of their place of birth, may I implore you to remove the post that appeared today over the name CaribbeanMan. As its message was confused and witless, its purpose vile and bilious, its tone tendentious and offensive and its contribution utterly valueless, the sobriquet he chooses, CaribbeanMan, is an insult to all others proud of this shared heritage.

  12. To August 12, 2010 7:14 PM who said:

    "Do you seriously believe that Anguilla wouldn't benefit from political and economic governance by intelligent, professional--dare I say it--bureaucrats? "

    That system of governance was tried already. It resulted in slavery and extermination of the "natives". That is why there are no "natives "in Anguilla today.

    The origianal "natives" were ALL exterminated by your "intelligent, professional--dare I say it--bureaucrats".

    I am certain that Don Mitchell can well imagine what would transpire in Anguilla with unaccountable "intelligent, professional, bureaucrats such as those involved in the honours for favours and expenditure scandals in England.

    So, Do you seriously believe that ENGLAND wouldn't benefit from political and economic governance by intelligent, professional--dare I say it--bureaucrats?

  13. As the poster of the August 13, 2010 11:28 PM, I certainly meant no disrespect. Mine was simply an effort to keep the discussion focused on governance competency rather than abrasive dialogue.

    As long as the government officials, place their own self interests ahead of the governed interests, those being governed will always pay a heavy price…be it financial or otherwise as history has shown and current events illustrate. Nor will the self-interested politicians iron out all the wrinkles and gaps in the law or constitution as such wrinkles/gaps is the means to which they line their pockets.

    Pass a law to recall the government servant who looses his/her way and replace them. Then the governed will have a method of checking those who come to power with dishonest statements.

  14. Aug. 15, 2010 – Enlargement of the Franchise – By De-Owen Higgs in TCI JOURNAL

    "...................................................................................................................................................................................................When are we going to realize that we have to solve our own problems? We have our own people who are capable of solving our problems, but because they are not a part of what we regard as high society they are ignored. Ms. Sullivan will be getting a fat paycheck at the end of the day, and all she is doing is trying to solve one problem by creating another!"

    Well said!

  15. It is interesting to hear the dialouge that has been generatesd by one anonymous poater.what is more interesting is that it has nothing to do with what the Hon, Mitchell is trying to bring to light.The problem we are facing in Anguilla is a monumentous one.How are we to correct the errant behaviours of our policians when we are failing the peole by refusing to reform our very own constitution?This is the fundamental or integral piece of the puzzle that needs fixing efore we can move ahead.Constitutional reform is what,I believe ,is being presented in this forum.Unless we as Anguillians understand the importance of this measure ,we will be doomed to repeating the same mistakes that we have been having for the past 20 odd years.How can we even think of becoming independent without this fundamental change?The people,the Politicians and the polictical system need overhauling before we can realise any dramatic changes here in Anguilla.
    Thank you Hon.Mitchell for keeping this to to forefront of our daily lives.


    Mr. Mitchell has a tendency to blow hot and cold when it comes to the British.

    All of Mr. Mitchell's huffing and puffing do not mean a darn thing, until he realizes that the real problem is not "errant or corrupt politicians", but COLONIALISM, by whatever names it is called.

    Do you really think that sweet Kate (adopted from Shakespeare’s Taming of The Shrew) thought up those "return to old fashion raw in your face colonialism" recommendations all by herself?

    Those same recommendations are more than 200 years old, when the colonial office recommended annexing the British Caribbean Territories to England.

    There is nothing new under the sun only the history you do not know.

    WE Anguillians know our history and sweet Kate knows what she can do with her recommendations. Which island is she going to persuade to adopt the STATUS OF A BRITISH PLANTATION?

  17. Anguillian Son, you are half correct. Correct in that parts of the constitution need to be tighter to give the people more control. Of Course Don is right to point out the gaps which are not always apparent.

    However, no one can point out the clause which mandates politician’s are duty bound to place their own interests ahead of those they serve. Or to focus the matters which gain favor and/or wealth to their friends. Or to think with a tunnel vision which only focuses on the fires of today, not the stability of tomorrow. These are qualities which come from integrity, competency, and in some cases some a little on the job training.....but INTEGRITY is the guide to doing the right thing. All that said, the people must be involved, and not take an apathetic approach. The existing constitution does not bar any of this, in its current form.

    A reformed constitution can never insure that the people never have to worry, or be studious Shepard’s of their political flock. However as a 2 pronged approach, reform with a good disinfecting, provides the best platform to start anew.


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