MNI: Facing our 2019 – 24 post-Brexit Governance- Capacity- Leadership Challenge

How are we going to handle the UK’s 2025 policy “pillars” and “values” agenda for the Caribbean?

BRADES, Montserrat, September 26, 2019 –  “Governance” is about how the big decisions are made, and how they are made to stick. That becomes a challenge when we have murky swamps and lurking dragons to deal with. So, how do we drain the swamp and deal with the dragons?[1] Especially, with an election just around the corner, with a £63 million [~ EC$ 200 million] development programme on the table that needs to be managed properly; also, with Brexit and a UN Decolonisation Committee visit also to happen, maybe by December?

For one, we have to recognise that elections can easily become part of the problem rather than the wave- a- magic- wand instant solution.

As Acts 27:11 – 12 reminds us, when St Paul warned the ship’s company of dangerous winter storms at Fair Havens, “the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said . . . the majority decided to put out to sea.” So, they set sail for Phoenix, a nicer winter harbour 40 miles away, only to be caught in such a storm and shipwrecked at Malta; hundreds of miles off course. Yes, Mr Moneybags, his bought and paid for technical experts, stubborn ignorance and want of common sense can easily turn democratic elections into ruinous voyages of folly: de-mock-racy, not democracy.[2] Merely having elections won’t solve the problem.

Similarly, if our “permanent government” – the senior civil service – is “not fit for purpose” (as former Governor Carriere said in an unguarded, frank moment) then we are going to be hampered every step of the way by lack of capacity, foot-dragging, outright incompetence and even corruption. And if many candidates for election are cut from the same roll of cloth,[3] that will only multiply the problem.

For elections to work, we need to have a choice of credible, competent, good-character candidates with sound policy proposals, and if policies are to be implemented, our senior civil service will need drastic reforms led by Cabinet. We will have to fix the DfID-FCO side of the problem, too.

This part of the problem is why, over the past several weeks, we here at TMR have looked at the needed Charter of Good Governance and Development Partnership MoU with the UK; which have actually been on the table for several years, but were obviously road-blocked. Such agreements and such Resolutions of our Assembly would give us tools to drain the murky waters so beloved of swamp-dwelling chaos-dragons . . . that’s how they can lurk in ambush.

A capacity-building component would help us build a new generation of policy and political leadership. The creation of a priority transformational programme with agreed “catalytic” infrastructure-building projects supported by designated expediters and sound PRINCE2-style governance systems would then move us beyond the stop, study, start, stop, restudy pattern. For sure, without a protected sea port, without an improved airport, without fibre optic cable digital access and without developed geothermal energy, we are a poor investment and growth prospect.

Correction, we should have already been doing those projects.   Yes, that is what frustrating the Charter of Good Governance, the Development Partnership MoU and linked reforms cost us, after the MDC’s failure.[4] Where, with the Programme Management Office head frog marched off within months of his arrival (followed by nearly two years of foot dragging on a new head), we can see what happens when the dragons strike back. 

As for church, professional, media and general community leaders, they will obviously typically reflect our general level.

For instance, why isn’t the lesson of Acts 27 routinely, repeatedly taught in our churches? There are of course sterling exceptions, and a few years back in these pages we reported on a series of meetings held by a visiting senior church leader, the Rev Dr. Nicholson.[5] And, there have been other voices, in our churches, on the streets, in TMR’s pages and elsewhere. So, our prolonged plight is not for lack of being prophetically warned and counseled. As a fair comment, the Apostle Paul also warned that in these last days many would reject or dismiss sound instruction; instead, seeking out those who would tickle itching ears with what they want to hear – as happened in Acts 27.  Soundness, is very much a cultivated taste (like healthy vegetables).

We also face a rapidly changing world situation. Whatever our opinions on how Brexit was voted in and on the UK’s new Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, Brexit is to happen “soon.” That is naturally going to shift the UK’s policy focus back to the Commonwealth and to the Overseas Territories, even as going into the European Common Market (which developed into the European Union, as intended) shifted focus away from us.

Where, no, for centuries, the UK has been skilled at three- moves- ahead policy and strategic thinking, so the notion that they are so taken up with Brexit that they can’t see beyond the immediate crisis is nonsense. Obviously, in the background, there are many people studying issues and framing long term options as we speak. Indeed, just a few days ago, Mr Asif Anwar Ahmad, UK High Commissioner to Jamaica announced as follows regarding the United Kingdom’s “Strategy for the Caribbean, its six Overseas Territories in the region and Bermuda up to 2025”[6]:

“the [UK’s] strategy has three pillars — partners on values, partners on prosperity, and partners on protecting people . . . . the strategy calls for increased support for the region on the UK’s priorities which include good governance, human rights and democracy, including issues such as the death penalty and LGBT rights.”

How are we going to manage things like using the prestige and power of our Courts to unilaterally amend Constitutions from the Bench to impose radical agendas?

That has already been put on the table by Justice Antony Smellie in the Cayman Islands,[7] and it is by no means certain that the Appeals Court will defer to the argument that Constitutions should only be amended through proper process involving parliament and people.

Where, from FCO answers to UK Foreign Affairs Committee questions, it is already clear that the FCO is willing to go along with – or is even quietly pushing for – such blatantly undemocratic usurpations. Policies, that promote fashionable anti-Christian “values” and agendas.   The resulting potential for political destabilisation, increased social conflicts, moral confusion and chaos could easily dwarf the formidable challenges we already face.

Similarly, after days of meetings with the UN General Assembly [UNGA], embattled US President Donald Trump announced on September 25th that negotiations are in progress with the UK for a major post-Brexit trade deal. That deal is likely to be fairly similar to existing deals with Canada etc. How can we OT’s use the Joint Ministerial Council process to get a slice or two of the American pie?

These and many other issues point to an urgent need for a different level of awareness regarding trends, issues, pros and cons of policy options, etc. They point to a need for political, civil service, church and civil society leadership and independent thought at a different level. Yes, we here at TMR will continue to do our part as The People’s College.  However, as a nation, we need – right now – people with high capacity, the character of spiritual maturity, vision and values to tackle the sort of policy and frankly, world views challenges that are now on the table. Not, in five years’ time, now.

How are we going to address that? E


[1] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrat-why-do-we-need-a-development-partnership-mou-with-the-uk/

[2] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-15-2016-will-we-have-democracy-or-de-mock-racy/

[3] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/we-need-a-new-politics-of-truth-soundness-and-national-consensus/

[4] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/the-mdc-little-bay-gun-hill-fiasco/

[5] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-20-2016-how-do-we-build-a-wholesome-god-fearing-society/

[6] See: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/uk-to-push-jamaica-on-lgbt-right

[7] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/answering-cj-smellie-neither-tradition-nor-religion-could-form-the-rational-basis-for-a-law/ and https://www.themontserratreporter.com/cayman-islands-chief-justice-smellie-tries-to-redefine-marriage-fails/

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How are we going to handle the UK’s 2025 policy “pillars” and “values” agenda for the Caribbean?

BRADES, Montserrat, September 26, 2019 –  “Governance” is about how the big decisions are made, and how they are made to stick. That becomes a challenge when we have murky swamps and lurking dragons to deal with. So, how do we drain the swamp and deal with the dragons?[1] Especially, with an election just around the corner, with a £63 million [~ EC$ 200 million] development programme on the table that needs to be managed properly; also, with Brexit and a UN Decolonisation Committee visit also to happen, maybe by December?

For one, we have to recognise that elections can easily become part of the problem rather than the wave- a- magic- wand instant solution.

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As Acts 27:11 – 12 reminds us, when St Paul warned the ship’s company of dangerous winter storms at Fair Havens, “the centurion paid more attention to the pilot and to the owner of the ship than to what Paul said . . . the majority decided to put out to sea.” So, they set sail for Phoenix, a nicer winter harbour 40 miles away, only to be caught in such a storm and shipwrecked at Malta; hundreds of miles off course. Yes, Mr Moneybags, his bought and paid for technical experts, stubborn ignorance and want of common sense can easily turn democratic elections into ruinous voyages of folly: de-mock-racy, not democracy.[2] Merely having elections won’t solve the problem.

Similarly, if our “permanent government” – the senior civil service – is “not fit for purpose” (as former Governor Carriere said in an unguarded, frank moment) then we are going to be hampered every step of the way by lack of capacity, foot-dragging, outright incompetence and even corruption. And if many candidates for election are cut from the same roll of cloth,[3] that will only multiply the problem.

For elections to work, we need to have a choice of credible, competent, good-character candidates with sound policy proposals, and if policies are to be implemented, our senior civil service will need drastic reforms led by Cabinet. We will have to fix the DfID-FCO side of the problem, too.

This part of the problem is why, over the past several weeks, we here at TMR have looked at the needed Charter of Good Governance and Development Partnership MoU with the UK; which have actually been on the table for several years, but were obviously road-blocked. Such agreements and such Resolutions of our Assembly would give us tools to drain the murky waters so beloved of swamp-dwelling chaos-dragons . . . that’s how they can lurk in ambush.

A capacity-building component would help us build a new generation of policy and political leadership. The creation of a priority transformational programme with agreed “catalytic” infrastructure-building projects supported by designated expediters and sound PRINCE2-style governance systems would then move us beyond the stop, study, start, stop, restudy pattern. For sure, without a protected sea port, without an improved airport, without fibre optic cable digital access and without developed geothermal energy, we are a poor investment and growth prospect.

Correction, we should have already been doing those projects.   Yes, that is what frustrating the Charter of Good Governance, the Development Partnership MoU and linked reforms cost us, after the MDC’s failure.[4] Where, with the Programme Management Office head frog marched off within months of his arrival (followed by nearly two years of foot dragging on a new head), we can see what happens when the dragons strike back. 

As for church, professional, media and general community leaders, they will obviously typically reflect our general level.

For instance, why isn’t the lesson of Acts 27 routinely, repeatedly taught in our churches? There are of course sterling exceptions, and a few years back in these pages we reported on a series of meetings held by a visiting senior church leader, the Rev Dr. Nicholson.[5] And, there have been other voices, in our churches, on the streets, in TMR’s pages and elsewhere. So, our prolonged plight is not for lack of being prophetically warned and counseled. As a fair comment, the Apostle Paul also warned that in these last days many would reject or dismiss sound instruction; instead, seeking out those who would tickle itching ears with what they want to hear – as happened in Acts 27.  Soundness, is very much a cultivated taste (like healthy vegetables).

We also face a rapidly changing world situation. Whatever our opinions on how Brexit was voted in and on the UK’s new Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, Brexit is to happen “soon.” That is naturally going to shift the UK’s policy focus back to the Commonwealth and to the Overseas Territories, even as going into the European Common Market (which developed into the European Union, as intended) shifted focus away from us.

Where, no, for centuries, the UK has been skilled at three- moves- ahead policy and strategic thinking, so the notion that they are so taken up with Brexit that they can’t see beyond the immediate crisis is nonsense. Obviously, in the background, there are many people studying issues and framing long term options as we speak. Indeed, just a few days ago, Mr Asif Anwar Ahmad, UK High Commissioner to Jamaica announced as follows regarding the United Kingdom’s “Strategy for the Caribbean, its six Overseas Territories in the region and Bermuda up to 2025”[6]:

“the [UK’s] strategy has three pillars — partners on values, partners on prosperity, and partners on protecting people . . . . the strategy calls for increased support for the region on the UK’s priorities which include good governance, human rights and democracy, including issues such as the death penalty and LGBT rights.”

How are we going to manage things like using the prestige and power of our Courts to unilaterally amend Constitutions from the Bench to impose radical agendas?

That has already been put on the table by Justice Antony Smellie in the Cayman Islands,[7] and it is by no means certain that the Appeals Court will defer to the argument that Constitutions should only be amended through proper process involving parliament and people.

Where, from FCO answers to UK Foreign Affairs Committee questions, it is already clear that the FCO is willing to go along with – or is even quietly pushing for – such blatantly undemocratic usurpations. Policies, that promote fashionable anti-Christian “values” and agendas.   The resulting potential for political destabilisation, increased social conflicts, moral confusion and chaos could easily dwarf the formidable challenges we already face.

Similarly, after days of meetings with the UN General Assembly [UNGA], embattled US President Donald Trump announced on September 25th that negotiations are in progress with the UK for a major post-Brexit trade deal. That deal is likely to be fairly similar to existing deals with Canada etc. How can we OT’s use the Joint Ministerial Council process to get a slice or two of the American pie?

These and many other issues point to an urgent need for a different level of awareness regarding trends, issues, pros and cons of policy options, etc. They point to a need for political, civil service, church and civil society leadership and independent thought at a different level. Yes, we here at TMR will continue to do our part as The People’s College.  However, as a nation, we need – right now – people with high capacity, the character of spiritual maturity, vision and values to tackle the sort of policy and frankly, world views challenges that are now on the table. Not, in five years’ time, now.

How are we going to address that? E


[1] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/montserrat-why-do-we-need-a-development-partnership-mou-with-the-uk/

[2] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-15-2016-will-we-have-democracy-or-de-mock-racy/

[3] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/we-need-a-new-politics-of-truth-soundness-and-national-consensus/

[4] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/the-mdc-little-bay-gun-hill-fiasco/

[5] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/de-ole-dawg-part-20-2016-how-do-we-build-a-wholesome-god-fearing-society/

[6] See: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/uk-to-push-jamaica-on-lgbt-right

[7] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/answering-cj-smellie-neither-tradition-nor-religion-could-form-the-rational-basis-for-a-law/ and https://www.themontserratreporter.com/cayman-islands-chief-justice-smellie-tries-to-redefine-marriage-fails/