September 20, 2020

MAC STRIKES BACK: Bush in war of words with opposition

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Premier McKeeva Bush hit back at opposition politicians yesterday, turning accusations of irresponsibility and destroying democracy back on Ezzard Miller and Alden McLaughlin, claiming they were damaging the Cayman Islands.

Reacting to public statements by North Side independent Mr Miller and leader of the opposition People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) Mr McLaughlin, the premier told iNews they were “doing a good job of bringing down this country.”

“Nothing they say is going to help the economy,” he said. “The vast majority is playing politics, and they are doing nothing to move the economy forward, to bring down the loans and nothing to help people.”

The two MLAs — joined by former PPM leader and George Town MLA Kurt Tibbetts and East End representative Arden McLean, — accused Mr Bush and his United Democratic Party (UDP) of manipulating the Legislative Assembly to prevent introduction of opposition motions a series of nearly 30 formal questions and all private-member’s bills.

The UDP, they said, dominates the assembly’s Standing Business Committee, which determines what comes in front of Parliament’s 15 legislators.

It had “consistently made decisions that, when we try to get business listed, we are told to ‘shut up’’ and ‘the government is not ready to deal with it’”, Mr Miller said.

“In my view, the premier and the majority of the committee are refusing to put this business to Parliament,” Mr Miller said, citing three bills he has proposed – to reduce prices of both medicine and gasoline, and implement a minimum wage — that have been ignored.

“In case they vote against them, they will negatively affect their political standing, and they don’t want me or the opposition get any political credit,” he said.

Of greater concern, Mr McLaughlin said, was the damage Mr Bush was doing to democracy by refusing to allow the opposition to participate in legislation.

“The issue of Parliament and when it sits is at the core of democracy,” he said, describing how Mr Bush had manipulated LA rules to weaken the opposition.

Mr Bush had adjourned, but never formally closed, an LA meeting on 23 May, meaning successive gatherings, including the most recent 3 August budget announcement, were simply an extension from late May. Because new business must be introduced in advance of an LA meeting, nothing could be added to the agenda.

Citing 30 outstanding questions and at least two bills, Mr McLaughlin said his 27 April no-confidence motion and a PPM request to debate major infrastructure projects had been ignored.

“I have been here for 11 years and never seen it this bad,” he said,

Kurt Tibbetts, Ezzard Miller and Alden McLaughlin accused the premier of manipulation.

Mr McLean echoed the criticism: “We have a premier under criminal investigation running the country like a bull in a china shop,” he said, referring to a police probe of alleged financial irregularities by Mr Bush. “We are heading down a road that says to me we are operating a one-party state.”

Mr Miller said he would call a “Special Meeting” of the LA to address private members’ concerns, and would contact London’s’ Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Commonwealth Parliamentary Association for “guidance and/or intervention”.

Mr Bush rejected the criticism: “This is just to stir up trouble,” he told iNews. ”We are meeting on 7 September, and Alden and Arden were involved in that decision. What are they complaining about? We will sit the whole month and get through as much business as we can, government bills and motions and private bills, motions and questions. It is they who are stifling democracy.”

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