Books about Anguilla


Thursday, 24 February 2011


In my July 16th, Article, “A picture paints a thousand words” I first used the label “three ring circus” to describe the behaviour and style of the AUM Government as they continued on their charade of manipulating the truth hoping thereby “to paint a glorious picture of an open and transparent Government that is for all the people”. The Parliamentary Secretary who I had dubbed “the circus master” had just finished an interview with one of the AUM talk show hosts where he had declared that they were a “good and happy government” and that, contrary to rumour, he and the Minister of Social Development, the Hon. Edison Baird, had a great working relationship. He also used the occasion to bash the former Government and especially me as the former Minister of Finance. It was while listening to that interview that I was told that just a few days earlier, he further demonstrated his disdain for my contribution as a longstanding elected representative of the people and Minister of Government, by removing my picture from its historic space on the front wall of the Conference Room of the Tourist Board with much fanfare --- and in the presence of our international tourism agents/representatives and other non-Anguillian participants. It was at that point that I realized that he has no respect for elected officials who served our country and in the words of Minister Baird “is clearly pregnant with arrogance.”

But the curtain came down on that “circus act” of a “good and happy government” when the text and broadcast of “Eddie Confessions” began to circulate --- and after a period of “stunned silence” on the usual talk shows, last Thursday a further release by Minister Baird broke the silence. It was heartrending to hear a frequent caller to all the AUM talk shows, who is noted for his verbal bravado and scathing rhetoric, shamelessly confess that he had cried bitterly when he heard Mr. Baird’s address. His confessions of grief and tears were further accentuated by a number of the other usual callers threateningly demanding the immediate removal of Mr. Baird as a Minister in the AUM Government. Again one was forced to wonder who is really running the Government --- because these callers spoke with an air of Chief Ministerial Authority. According to one of the usual loud mouths: “He’s got to go NOOOW!!!” Many persons listening to those exchanges on Class FM expressed great disappointment with regards the level of “pettiness” to which politics and governance on Anguilla had descended.

It is almost a year to the day since the AUM Government was sworn in --- and now it has become blatantly obvious that there is a serious dissension within its ranks. While I have been accused through this medium of preventing the Government from carrying out its function --- I protest strongly any suggestion that I can be held responsible for this most recent drama. Indeed, I have not had a structured conversation with Mr. Baird for more than a year. But both this drama and this milestone have afforded me the opportunity to explain why I could not sit idly by over the past twelve months and allow the Government to continue unchecked. Let me now catalogue the issues that I brought to your attention over that period --- as well as for your reflection today.

I will refresh your memories on the issues and provoke your reflections with “sound-bites” from my comments as follows:

After coming to Office the AUM immediately installed new Boards, the foremost among which was Anguilla Social Security Board headed up by a number of its politicos. I got wind of a decision by the new Board to move Social Security deposits from the local/indigenous banks and pointed out the dangers. I wrote: “As a nation facing the impacts of a global recession we cannot afford to endanger homegrown organizations that are central to our survival at this time!”

• I was forced to respond strongly to a statement by the Chairman of the new Social Security Board regarding my right to question his actions through the news media. I wrote: “I would like to suggest to Mr. Astaphan that as a representative of the people of Anguilla for almost thirty years --- and I might add through the electoral process, not by appointment --- and by virtue of being a born and bred Anguillian over sixty years of age with considerable experience --- I do not need anyone’s permission approval or solicitation to comment on whatever I believe affects the people of Anguilla!”

• I was forced to reply to “a wide range of incongruous and conflicting statements” by the Chief Minister in his Budget address “Operation Recovery” in which he accused the past government of “alleged corruption; economic mismanagement and poor governance”. I wrote: “Stop the blame game! You are the Government! You are the man with the plan!”

• I had to comment on the excellent presentations made by the two elected members of the opposition in the budgetary debates as opposed to the vacuous presentation by some of the newly elected members especially the use of the analogy of a “rotten egg” by the Member for West End. I wrote: “The use of that analogy can conceivably turn out to be a label for him. Such labels are known to stick in Anguilla!”

• I had to comment on the CM and the Parliamentary Secretary’s reintroduction of the ridiculous idea of building a new Airport in Brimigen. I wrote: “I remain supremely confident that the Brimigen Airport Project will neither take-off nor land. No pun intended!”

• I was forced to expose the planned “hostile takeover” of ANGLEC by the Minister of Utilities and the Chairman of Social Security. I wrote: “Let us not treat the minority shareholders in ANGLEC like simply powerless spectators!”

• I had to comment on the “Bradshaw style” approach of the Chairman of the Social Security Board and the aura of national political authority with which he spoke. I wrote: “The Chairman and his Board are whittling away at the good will and trust that the system has built up over the years all across this land!”

• I had to express my displeasure at the Chief Minister’s apology for Bradshaw in the presence of the Father of the Nation and other heroes and heroines of the Revolution on Anguilla Day! I wrote: “Hubert mussa tink we Bubba Johnnies for true!”

• I had to comment on the Chief Minister’s continued inability to get an approved budget one hundred and ten days after the election and his ongoing argument with the British Government that they colluded with the past government to cause our financial situation --- rather than settling down and seriously negotiating. I wrote: “The Chief Minister continues to look through the “rear view mirror” rather than focus his attention on the “approaching traffic and the bumpy road ahead”!

• I had to comment on the Chief Minister’s attendance to the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Annual Conference where he made some unfortunate statements that the Parliamentary Secretary tried to correct. I wrote: “Our statements must be responsible, sensitive and relevant to the objectives we are seeking to achieve and we must remain focused on strategies and solutions --- not loose talk!”

• I was forced to comment on the cowardly attacks by the Chief Minister on civil servants using the shelter of “parliamentary privilege” as well as his statement that it was the FCO Minister that made him borrow 50 million for recurrent expenditure. I wrote: “Times are getting tougher! Stop whining and take charge!”

• I had to speak about the losses incurred through this Government’s inexperienced negotiations with the owners of Cap Juluca simply to give the impression that there is a difference between an MOA and an MOU. I wrote: “The Government will claim that it has been able to extract certain improved benefits --- but in assessing them they exist in words rather than in substance!”

• I had to speak about the poor management of the House by the newly installed Speaker. She allowed the Chief Minister to abuse the rules of procedure by presenting a thirty page document rife with libelous, abusive, misleading, inaccurate, malicious, cowardly, unkind, uncaring and downright nasty statements in response to a question posed by one of his own Ministers designed to evoke that breach. I wrote: “I cannot accept that the Chief Minister or anyone with the slightest strain of Anguillian blood flowing in their veins could have written such a document!”

• I spoke about the inordinate power of non-elected advisers and political appointees in this administration. The fact that they have no qualms about openly threatening the victimization of public servants and even publicly reprimanding elected Members of the Government. I wrote: “This seems like democracy and governance KGB style!”

• I spoke about the specific attempt by the Parliamentary Secretary to mislead the public in the presence of the Chief Minister that Viceroy Resort was sold; a MOU was signed and that the Government would be receiving US$40 million in taxes. I wrote: “This Government came to 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 content on governing on the basis of lies!”

• I had to speak about the “circus act” when it was alleged by some AUM “serial liars” that the Governor had asked the Chief Minister to resign immediately and call for fresh elections. I wrote: “There were young men in prison standing on the roof waving branches who perhaps felt that this may also be a referendum on their freedom!”

• I had to speak about the Chief Minister’s willful disregard for procedures, legislation, due diligence, transparency, best practices and common sense in granting approval to the Chairman of Social Security to borrow US$200 million from a questionable source. I wrote: “By what moral or imperious authority then can the CM now continue his “holier than thou” tirades about the past government or the former Minister of Finance?”

• I had to speak to the rumour spread around the island by some of the AUM “serial liars” through their journalist sympathizers that Anguilla is a “failed state” and the FCO intends to suspend the constitution and take over. They also went on to extrapolate that we need to go into independence. I wrote: “But they must face the cold hard facts --- the British are not coming they are in fact already here! They have always been here!”

• I had to speak about the mounting cries for independence among the AUM supporters as the CM continues to give the impression that the Governor and the British Government are obstacles to Anguilla’s economic recovery. I wrote: “Why is it that some callers even the hosts of the AUM talk shows lose their voices and wax emotional with tears against an “oppressor” who has long ago unshackled the “chains of captivity” just for the asking!”

• I had to defend myself against attempts by the CM and “all too anxious” AUM talk show hosts and their usual callers to revive the transshipment issue with the view to denigrate me. I wrote: “May I admonish the CM that it is unwise to believe that his continued attempts to denigrate my character will cause me to wilt and go away!”

• Over the last two months beginning with his interview on New Years Eve the Chief Minister made a number of irresponsible comments one of which clearly incited violent behaviour. He said: “the rest of the Anguillians need to follow where the prisoners left off!” I wrote: “How will inciting the population to violence help Anguilla’s case --- or make the case for the British Government to authorize the budget!”

• I spoke ad nauseam about Hubert’s leading by bad example; his loose and irresponsible statements in the public media; his lies and misinformation; his belief that the rules apply to everyone else but him; and his chronic denial of blame for anything. I wrote: “The clear message that needs to be sent to the Chief Minister is that he is in charge and it is time to settle down and do what he was elected to do. Govern!”

I tried to be as exhaustive as my column would allow. I simply hoped to make the point that based on the nature of this sampling of issues I had every reason to comment on the AUM’s performance over the last twelve months. In fact, everything that has worked for the AUM has come as a result of the experience and vision of the Anguilla United Front. They criticized Viceroy --- it is their salvation. They criticized Cap Juluca --- it is their stability. They criticized the airport --- it is now their boast. They opposed Catastrophic Insurance --- it bailed them out. They criticized the handling of Temenos --- they now must return to the same strategy. To summarize, they have not shown the potential to deliver what Anguillians voted for, expect and deserve.

“Eddies Confessions” and the “petty politics” that have ensued seem to reinforce the characterization that this is truly a “circus”. While Queen Bee’s lament in song suggests that we have had enough --- evoking the baneful question: “When will this circus leave town?” When indeed!

Victor F. Banks
Sachasses Estate
February 22, 2011

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