By: Terry Harrigan (Independent Politician)
Thursday, 3 February 2011
“Independence that’s middle class blasphemy, we all are dependent on one another, every soul on earth.”(Bernard Shaw)
I have recently been approached on numerous occasions, to give my opinion on political independence for Anguilla. I have tried to keep out of the fray and allow the government to govern. However, I cannot neglect giving a response to those who need to hear an independent voice. It is ironic that the last chapter of my book, “POWER AND PRIVILEGE OF A DEMOCRACY,” soon to be published, closes with the chapter, “Impact of independence on Our Nation.” My response is a non-partisan perspective on this important issue. In this text, Anguilla is likened as a nation under political siege. The matter of independence cannot be regarded lightly. It must be weighed with sufficient cognition and characterized by the complete desires of our people. History must write this political page as the will of the people-not a political party or select few. Fellow Anguillans, my commitment will always be to the people of Anguilla and no special interest group.
I once asked Atlin Harrigan about the prospect of independence for Anguilla. He responded that although we may one day welcome this, no man, woman or country is independent. We are all inescapably interdependent, and the course to independence must be carefully crafted. It must ensure the safety and productivity of each other. He concluded that it must not be designed, to give greater power to those in authority, or else we may face dictatorship. I concluded independence must give the masses economic and educational power and privilege. So, I remain convinced that sufficient preparations have not been made to secure independence. First, empower our people to receive the best quality health care and education opportunities. Let our citizens enjoy security and comfort in employment. Second, build their confidence and trust in the ability of government to perform, and educate them about independence. Third, establish those policies that can guide us as a nation, with checks and balances that protect every citizen. It is not necessary to obtain Independence through militant behavior.
America is a world power that depends upon China and Japan in many ways. Baby Doc, the former President of Haiti, spent twenty five years in exile for his treatment of his people. Independence does not give us escape from international scrutiny. Independence is a very abstract idea and must be measured by its timeliness, preparation and implementation of institutions to protect all its citizens. It is not enough to gain political independence to chart our course fiscally, only to become obligated to thugs and rogue nations. One must agree, it can only occur through the collective will of our people.
This question is asked where ever I turn, are we ready for independence? I still believe that full self-internal rule is the best approach. There is growing frustration on the part of the government over the Governor’s refusal to sign the budget. It is unreasonable to balance the budget on the backs of the poor people. The government, rather than terminating those who are struggling, should reduce the salaries of those at the top. This frustration does not give rise to clamouring for independence as a solution to our economic problems.
Our government and opposition must lead with purpose and direction, in order to prepare our people to move forward to independence, democracy and equality. It is hard to believe that with divisiveness in government and among our people- we are there yet. Independence does not occur over night. It is important for all Anguillans to work together to improve our economy. Our leaders must be responsible and not create discord among our people. We must tone down the rhetoric and work with the British to resolve our issues. This approach is inevitable to the productivity of our nation.
Independence is not a synonym for shortsighted-nationalism or egoism. It does not mean that government can decide whatever it wants; but there must be conformity to the law and facts outlined within our constitution. We must be reminded that independence is irreversible and many would be stripped of the opportunity to seek medical help abroad, as we remain unprepared to deal with cataclysmic situations. Entrepreneurs would experience extreme hardships in travel. Our leaders as diplomats would have this privilege, but others would be denied. As our people echo the call for independence, some tend to destroy it minute by minute. Our independence is not as important or immediate as taking control of our fiscal responsibilities. This government must micro-manage its affairs well, in order to restore Anguilla to a formidable economic position.
Independence is improbable without economic security. If we do not experience economic security we will never be liberated. When our people are hungry, starved, begging, and out of work, this is the climate for creating a dictatorship. Our government must be committed to removing political barriers and instability. The present fiery tone pits us against the British, and one must conclude this is a conflict based upon fantasy. It seems to be a quixotic political approach at best. There is no rationale for bitterness, when we can simply educate our people, prepare our course, hold a referendum on this issue, and approach the British Government for this constitutional change. The truth is, just as we hold the AUM responsible for today; the AUF was responsible for the state of Anguilla at the end of 2010.
However, the government must move forward on its promises. This calls for reasonable dialogue with the British. The United States Virgin Islands cannot work without America. The French and Dutch Islands are effectively working with France and Holland. It seems more and more that it is essential to establish global integration. It is tragic that a new government having been elected is unable to do this, in light of the fact that it was not responsible for our economic demise. The Anguilla United Front could never have made such an honest case. In this light, the Anguilla United Movement may have lost a brilliant opportunity for leadership. They have spent too much time on the Anguilla United Front and the possible ouster of Mr. Eddie Baird as well as denigrating the Governor. One can only assume the reasons for the ostracism of the Honourable Edison Baird. It must create a nervous reaction when we study the present course – divisiveness within the government.
We must establish moral and intellectual independence, in order to create a foundation for national independence. The 1967 revolution, was sanctioned by massive support throughout Anguilla. I believe it was made possible by the lack of bloodshed. We must use Britain as well as other countries for the advancement of our people. Many, worry that independence would serve a death blow to travel abroad. It would further isolate us at a time when our economy is depleted. Violence can create the greatest divide Anguillans have witnessed within the last century. We must be mindful that independence is first an internal achievement, and not only an external arrangement. I know that as I explain my views pertaining to this serious chapter in our history, there will be many striving to obliterate these commentaries.
In this country of ours, opposing views throw one on the vanguard of political ideology. It is time to become immersed in the outcome of leadership rather than the leaders themselves. We learnt a great lesson when the electorate told the Anguilla United Front their government was fired. The last election was about a group of people who could lead us to a better position. I am sure the masses through desperation and despondence came to a surprising conclusion.
The question remains, how have our expectations been affected by the leadership of the present government? I leave this for each of us to seriously ponder going forward in our personal struggles. The lack of cooperation on all sides continues to strangle, stifle and strain possibilities for progress. We are a resilient people whose past has been honed by experiences of pain, suffering and neglect. The strength of our democracy must be felt in our education system. It cannot be realized through the politics of fear or failure. It is my hope that the Honourable Hubert Hughes contemplates these issues seriously. As an elected official and leader, he must establish the people’s trust. Then and only then, we can assume the difficult task of independence.
By: Terry Harrigan (Independent Politician)
Posted by Realist Spikenice at 14:22