Books about Anguilla


Thursday, 10 February 2011


Last week Monday was exactly one year since the passing of my dear friend and ardent supporter David Leroy “Feddie” Bryan. As I said when I eulogized him at the celebration of his life on February 13, 2010: “Stoney Ground would never be the same without him!” His passing came just before the elections --- so as a strong supporter of the Anguilla United Front his untimely surrender to his suffering spared him the disappointment of his party’s defeat at the polls. Those of us who knew and loved “Feddie” would appreciate his passion for Anguilla and his belief that the Anguilla United Front was the party best suited to deliver the goods. “Feddie”, we were humbled by your loyalty; emboldened by your confidence, and; will continue to be inspired by your memory! May your soul rest in peace!”

It is ironic that just two days after the anniversary of “Feddie’s” passing, the Deputy Leader of the Anguilla United Movement Government, the Hon. Edison Baird, also a friend of “Feddie”, should release a “confession” on several media, regarding not only their strategy for winning the election but also the serious dilemma we now face as a country run (as he asserts) by “a handful of unelected persons” with a “radical and disruptive agenda”. Like most of our supporters “Feddie” would have felt vindicated by Mr. Baird’s remarks. Despite our many presentations during the campaign and my columns after the election dealing with the very issues --- I must admit that Eddie’s “confessions” will serve as excellent closing arguments for the case against the AUM Government and its willful abuse of the democratic process via the use of lies, misinformation and half-truths. In this regard, if there were such a court, the first evidence to be subpoenaed would be the Parliamentary Secretary’s “notorious black book”! I am referring to his mysterious folder containing many fabricated documents designed to denigrate, slander and malign the past AUF Government and its candidates in the recent election campaign.

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of this latest saga in “the life and times of the AUM Government” is the fact that, in a most uncharacteristic manner, there is complete silence on the airways about Eddie’s speech. A number of AUM loud mouths who have often been accused of having “diarrhea of the mouth” have suddenly contracted a condition leading to “verbal constipation”. Up to the time of writing this column there has not been any significant comment from the Chief Minister or any of his associates about what can only be described as the most damaging speech that I have ever heard by a sitting Minister of Government. We can only speculate as to the reason for this media “black out”. But for the time being someone needs to remind the Chief Minister that there is an “eight hundred pound gorilla” in the room which, despite his efforts to pretend to ignore it, he will be forced to acknowledge its presence at some point.

Over the last year I have only exchanged pleasantries with Mr. Baird. I never discussed any aspect of politics or governance with him during that period. Having noticed the deteriorating relationship between him and his colleagues in the AUM Government --- I made sure that he remained honest about our relationship so that he could and still can truthfully say that there is no political compact between us. However, I will not neglect this opportunity to use his “confessions” to absolve the Anguilla United Front of the many false accusations, half-truths and whole lies promulgated by the “serial liars” of the AUM. As one of my colleagues in the AUF Executive put it: “Serial lying is a very dangerous thing in politics, it is one of the worst aspects of propaganda, because people eventually believe the lies and reject the truth. Anguilla is now suffering the consequences!” It is a well-known adage that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” as a result even now after the campaign this pattern of “serial lying” continues to be the modus operandi of the “serial liars” of the Government. In this regard I strongly encourage that “Eddie’s Confessions” become “required reading” for the remaining supporters of the Anguilla United Movement.

Over the last forty weeks or so I have made a number of comments on the performance and conduct of the AUM and its supporters that have been validated in “Eddie’s Confessions” I will “flag up” some of them for your attention:-

• In my May 25th Article, “Social Security Again” I wrote: “There seems to be a tendency by the Chairman (Social Security) to speak with an aura of national political authority”. Mr. Baird said: “It is clear that these unelected persons are exercising considerable influence over Governmental affairs. The Chief Minister has little or no say in running the affairs of the island”.

• In my July 2nd Article, “It wasn’t me” I wrote: “The question must now arise whether this action by Jerome Roberts is to keep Eddie in line; frustrate him to the point of leaving; or simply push him aside once Jerome is installed”. Mr. Baird wrote: “Little did I know that it was his intention to replace me as Minister of Government. I now realize that as a part of the inducement package that persuaded him to join the wider Government was the promise of being an actual minister”.

• In my September 17th Article, “While Big Brother is watching!” I wrote: “Indeed there is a certain sentiment among the AUM disciples that the rules are only for the others. That is why the “Patriot” feels that he can justify being on several boards while he strongly criticized the past Government for such situations.” Mr. Baird wrote: “I believe that the Government must practice what it preaches”.

• In my September 24th Article, “So shall it be in the End” I wrote: “After Haydn boasted in his press conference that a MOU was signed with the new buyers for Viceroy Resort --- the Leader of the Opposition during the debate on the Cap Juluca MOU pressured him to explain how could he have signed an MOU before bringing it to the House of Assembly and Executive Council.” Mr. Baird wrote: “He started out pretending to be the Chief Minister; he is now pretending to be the Government!” And further he wrote: “The zenith of Haydn Hughes’ control over Governmental affairs was reached… when he vetoed a decision of the Chief Minister to take a proposal from a leading investor to the Executive Council.”

• In my June 11th, Article, “To budget or not to budget” I wrote: “In such an environment of uncertainty and unpredictability they (developers) then become frustrated and overly cautious. Developers --- and I must repeat local and expatriate --- are critical to the success of any recovery plan this Government intends to pursue. --- We must therefore build trust and confidence in our investors to achieve this --- not scare them away by political posturing.” Mr. Baird wrote: “What is alarming too, is their failure to appreciate the fact that there can be no economic recovery if political instability continues to manifest itself throughout the island. No rational investor will put new money into our economy, irrespective of incentives offered, if Government is in a state of perpetual confusion.”

• In my October 29th Article,” “Be careful what you wish for!” I wrote: “Fortunately for us, Independence for Anguilla does not require a violent national revolution against our Administering Power. The path to independence is clearly set out in our relationship agreements with the British Government. Civil disobedience is not required only civil negotiations.” Mr. Baird wrote: “Finally, the path to Independence is well known to everyone. It is free of any obstacle. The British Government has repeatedly stated that it is up to the Anguillian people, if and when they desire, to make a determination to sever their constitutional link with the UK Government”.

I have made these selected comparisons from “Eddie’s Confessions” to illustrate that there is considerable confirmation of my several criticisms of this Government’s performance and conduct from a person who was intimately involved in its day to day operations. And that while I received considerably abuse for my dogged pursuit of a change of “style, approach and attitude” (as expressed by the Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Evans Mc.Niel Rogers) by the Chief Minister and his colleagues in the governance process there were indeed senior members of his Cabinet who felt the same way.

But one of my main areas of disagreement with “Eddie’s Confessions” is that he seems to conclude that the Chief Minister is in some way the victim of his own Government. I find this a difficult pill to swallow because as the former Minister of Finance, and never the Chief Minister, Hubert has held me responsible for any thing that has gone awry both in his Government of 1994-99 and in the past Government of 2000-10. Hubert must likewise be held accountable for his own Government. He cannot continue to cry out: “It wasn’t me!” And avoid culpability of all kinds. Is Mr. Baird suggesting that Hubert is above reproach --- or is this his way of giving Hubert a last ditch opportunity to come to his senses and again as Niel suggested change his “style, approach and attitude”?

All of us would like to believe, as I suggested in my article of October 22nd, “Can a leopard change its spots?” that “the CM and his colleagues would settle down and do what they were elected to do --- indeed what they promised they would do during their campaign”. If that is Mr. Baird’s strategy --- I wish him well. Indeed, that is what I have been trying to do for the last forty months or so. But the fact is that it is obvious that the Chief Minister’s behaviour has filtered down to the junior members of his Government as well as the unelected advisors who he “cherishes” and have chosen to assist him. And as Mr. Baird suggested in his “confessions”: “they view the Executive Council as an impediment to the realization of their agenda and the law as an unnecessary obstacle thrown in their path by their enemies.” In this sense, there is absolutely no difference between the action that the Parliamentary Secretary took to have an MOU signed without the approval of Executive Council and the Chief Minister authorizing the borrowing of 200 million US dollars without the approval of EXCO and the House of Assembly. Hubert is leading by bad example! He is not a victim! He is the culprit!

The “serial lying” of which I spoke earlier can be especially traced in “Mr. Baird’s confessions” particularly in the case of the Parliamentary Secretary. But again the Chief Minister cannot avoid complicity. According to the “confessions” he was in the Press Conference when his son misrepresented the facts about the sale of Viceroy; according to the “confessions” the Chief Minister was in the House of Assembly when Mr. Baird corrected Mr. Roberts of his misrepresentation of the facts regarding the settlement of a law suit; the according to the “confessions” the Chief Minister was present when the Parliamentary Secretary said that an estimated US$43 million would soon be pouring into the Treasury; according to the “confessions” the Chief Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have not been transparent about the Salamander Group after making big promises during the election campaign; according to the “confessions” the Chief Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary have not been transparent about the issue of the impact of accommodation tax and service charge in the sale of villas controversy at Cap Juluca; and so on. As I said in my article of September 24th, “So shall it be in the end”: This Government came into Office on the basis of lies; it continues to consolidate its support on the basis of lies; it justifies its campaign of victimization on the basis of lies, and; it seems intent on governing on the basis of lies. Nothing has changed!”

“Eddie’s Confessions” have made at least five significant points which whether accurate or baseless should cause all of us concern: a) that he devised the strategy that “by targeting and politically destroying the leader of the AUF, Victor Banks, [they] effectively neutralized the other members of the party”--- in that statement he made no qualification as to legality of “the weapons” used; b) that there is political confusion in the AUM “which clearly poses a threat to our political and economic viability”; c) that there may be a handful of unelected persons who “want to impose their radical and disruptive agenda on the Anguillian people”; d) that “the Chief Minister has little or no say in the actual running of the island. [The] only need for him, it appears, is to give formality and legitimacy to their conduct”, and; e) that there appears to be a conspiracy within the Government to depose the Chief Minister allegedly led by his own son.

Where does all of this leave us? After the “serial liars” of the AUM have had their way with us for the past twelve months we hardly know what else to expect. Or even what next to believe! Many of the former supporters of the AUM have nothing to show for their loyalty during the recent election campaign of lies, scandals and innuendos but “heartaches and broken pieces”. Hopefully, “Eddie’s Confessions” will bring some small measure of enlightenment to persons still foundering in this sea of political and economic uncertainty.

Victor F. Banks
Sachasses Estate
February 8, 2011

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