Montserrat: why do we need a Development Partnership MoU with the UK?

Part 10/2019 (Contribution)

Is there a real “deep state swamp dragon,” which will try to block our progress?

BRADES, Montserrat, August 30, 2019 –   One of the commonest complaints about key development projects for Montserrat, is how they move in a dragged out, stop, study, start, re-study, consult, stop again . . . pattern. In many cases, for 10 to 20 years now. This indefensible outrage clearly points to the need for an agreed framework that moves us ahead steadily on the key, catalytic initiatives needed to re-spark self-sustaining growth like we once had, before the volcano crisis.

So, just as we looked at the need for, usefulness of and possible format of a Charter of Good Governance “last time”[1] we also need to ponder what a credible framework for a Development Partnership with HMG should look like. 

For instance, why not:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between our government and the UK Government, acting through DfID and FCO? (With attached technical agreements with DfID the main implementing agency on the UK side.)
  • Using the usual “whereases” to set a context for why such a partnership is needed and what sets out its motives and purpose.
  • Setting out the joint commitment to development based on the acknowledged legal force of the UN Charter, Article 73.[2]
  • Setting out other UK commitments given the 2012 FCO Whitepaper on Overseas Territories, including the “notorious” first call on the UK aid budget principle.
  • Expressing determination to put in place key projects that will help to catalyse economic development, health, education and social progress.
  • Launching an agreed programme of action that builds on the CIPREG framework but broadens scope under the full force of the Article 73 mandate.
  • Setting out an agreed framework that identifies priority transformational projects, sets a time frame to move them forward and establishes principles and organisation for the programme-based project cycle management needed to move such projects forward (without undue delays).
  • Establishing the required organisational units and capacity-building framework, perhaps using the PRINCE2, Axelos framework for qualifications, organisation, management and governance.
  • Setting up agreed funding, staffing and implementation with expediting and oversight.
  • Premier Romeo’s recent call for a UN resident facilitator could also be brought into such a framework.

Can such be done? (Obviously, yes – once there is willingness.)

Will such be done? (Not until the roadblocks that made sure it “didn’t get far” the last time around are dismantled and those who put up the roadblocks face accountability over what they did. And, over what it cost Montserrat.)

The deep state swamp dragon (HT scerg, DA)

These days, we hear of a lot of back and forth accusations about the “deep state” establishment entrenched in and/or unduly influencing Governments, the civil service, the military, finance, media etc. Some, of course, dismiss the idea as myths, or even “conspiracy theories.”

But wise change agents know better. 

There is always “an unofficial party of business as usual” that has its own quarrelling factions and internal, dirty, stab-in-the-back power games.

However, it is in the mutual interest of the power players to patch together some sort of live and let live. This results in an agenda that the power players are willing to go along with, at least for now. Of course, depending on the state of play the power games that agenda will shift.  That’s what sets the real agenda of governance: how the big decisions are really made, and how they are made to stick.

Hey, presto: meet your friendly, local, deep state[3] swamp dragon.

But, but, isn’t this a mere myth?

Best advice: if the river mullet says, there is a crocodile in the river, believe him.

The deep state dragon is real enough, and of course it means that genuine reforms of our civil service (especially at senior levels) are necessary. So will be, wider governance reforms; hence, the Charter of Good Governance.

However, here in Montserrat, our deep state challenge is much broader than our local problems: we have to deal with TWO of the most notorious UK Government Departments.

The Foreign and Colonial [→ oops, “Commonwealth”] Office, FCO, ruled much of the world for centuries.

DfID has a sobering reputation, including not only questions about actual ability to deliver on development promises and repeated corruption scandals that go far beyond the Daily Mail’s perpetual attack on development aid, but also for the subtle threat: DfID protects its own.

We have to put in place something strong enough to be a counter-weight to such deep state dragons, ours and theirs.

That’s why we need [a] a Charter of Good Governance we establish through our elected – so, accountable – representatives AND [b] a development partnership MoU with the UK Ministers. Then, [c] a declared Cabinet Policy on Governance reforms and [d] a technical implementing agreement for onward development partnership can de-claw and de-fang the deep state swamp critters.

To get there, we will have to chop our way into the swamp and drain it sufficiently that the old dragons cannot hide anymore in murky, smelly waters. (That’s part of why fearless independent media are so important for building Montserrat’s future. Especially, a serious newspaper, serving as The People’s College.)

So, now, let us demand action on a charter of good governance and on a development partnership MoU.

Never mind, what that fire-breathing dragon crawling out of the swamp over there behind you is muttering about how such could “never” work. (Since when could we trust hungry dragons with smoke coming out of their mouths to tell the truth?)

Folks, it’s up to us, the ordinary people:  if not now, then, when? If not here, then, where? If not us, then, who?


[1] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/%ef%bb%bfmontserrat-fixing-governance/

[2] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/%ef%bb%bfhow-the-un-charter-governs-montserrats-relationship-with-the-uk/

[3] See Politico: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/05/deep-state-real-cia-fbi-intelligence-15537

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Part 10/2019 (Contribution)

Is there a real “deep state swamp dragon,” which will try to block our progress?

BRADES, Montserrat, August 30, 2019 –   One of the commonest complaints about key development projects for Montserrat, is how they move in a dragged out, stop, study, start, re-study, consult, stop again . . . pattern. In many cases, for 10 to 20 years now. This indefensible outrage clearly points to the need for an agreed framework that moves us ahead steadily on the key, catalytic initiatives needed to re-spark self-sustaining growth like we once had, before the volcano crisis.

Insert Ads Here

So, just as we looked at the need for, usefulness of and possible format of a Charter of Good Governance “last time”[1] we also need to ponder what a credible framework for a Development Partnership with HMG should look like. 

For instance, why not:

Can such be done? (Obviously, yes – once there is willingness.)

Will such be done? (Not until the roadblocks that made sure it “didn’t get far” the last time around are dismantled and those who put up the roadblocks face accountability over what they did. And, over what it cost Montserrat.)

The deep state swamp dragon (HT scerg, DA)

These days, we hear of a lot of back and forth accusations about the “deep state” establishment entrenched in and/or unduly influencing Governments, the civil service, the military, finance, media etc. Some, of course, dismiss the idea as myths, or even “conspiracy theories.”

But wise change agents know better. 

There is always “an unofficial party of business as usual” that has its own quarrelling factions and internal, dirty, stab-in-the-back power games.

However, it is in the mutual interest of the power players to patch together some sort of live and let live. This results in an agenda that the power players are willing to go along with, at least for now. Of course, depending on the state of play the power games that agenda will shift.  That’s what sets the real agenda of governance: how the big decisions are really made, and how they are made to stick.

Hey, presto: meet your friendly, local, deep state[3] swamp dragon.

But, but, isn’t this a mere myth?

Best advice: if the river mullet says, there is a crocodile in the river, believe him.

The deep state dragon is real enough, and of course it means that genuine reforms of our civil service (especially at senior levels) are necessary. So will be, wider governance reforms; hence, the Charter of Good Governance.

However, here in Montserrat, our deep state challenge is much broader than our local problems: we have to deal with TWO of the most notorious UK Government Departments.

The Foreign and Colonial [→ oops, “Commonwealth”] Office, FCO, ruled much of the world for centuries.

DfID has a sobering reputation, including not only questions about actual ability to deliver on development promises and repeated corruption scandals that go far beyond the Daily Mail’s perpetual attack on development aid, but also for the subtle threat: DfID protects its own.

We have to put in place something strong enough to be a counter-weight to such deep state dragons, ours and theirs.

That’s why we need [a] a Charter of Good Governance we establish through our elected – so, accountable – representatives AND [b] a development partnership MoU with the UK Ministers. Then, [c] a declared Cabinet Policy on Governance reforms and [d] a technical implementing agreement for onward development partnership can de-claw and de-fang the deep state swamp critters.

To get there, we will have to chop our way into the swamp and drain it sufficiently that the old dragons cannot hide anymore in murky, smelly waters. (That’s part of why fearless independent media are so important for building Montserrat’s future. Especially, a serious newspaper, serving as The People’s College.)

So, now, let us demand action on a charter of good governance and on a development partnership MoU.

Never mind, what that fire-breathing dragon crawling out of the swamp over there behind you is muttering about how such could “never” work. (Since when could we trust hungry dragons with smoke coming out of their mouths to tell the truth?)

Folks, it’s up to us, the ordinary people:  if not now, then, when? If not here, then, where? If not us, then, who?


[1] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/%ef%bb%bfmontserrat-fixing-governance/

[2] TMR: https://www.themontserratreporter.com/%ef%bb%bfhow-the-un-charter-governs-montserrats-relationship-with-the-uk/

[3] See Politico: https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/05/deep-state-real-cia-fbi-intelligence-15537