INTERVIEW on ZJB with HERMAN SERGEANT & CHEDMOND BROWNE

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: We are speaking to Mr. Chedmond Browne Member of Parliament. Mr. Browne Welcome to ZJB studios once again.

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Yes thank you Mr. Sargeant. Good day to all our radio listeners.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: Well its nice to have you here once again. A very opportune time indeed. So many things have been happening on the political front for the past few days. Let me first get your reaction to the current political situation that we found ourselves in. Namely the resignation of Mrs. Margaret Dyer-Howe from the Government and the NPLM . Was that something that was on the cards, do you think?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: No. Well, from my personal understanding of the political dynamics, I don’t see this as a planned move. I see this as a spur of the moment reaction to certain situations internal to the NPLM government and internal to the NPLM’s caucus. I don’t see it as something that was planned in the best National interest of the country.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: So the timing as far as you are concerned may not be convenient?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: I am in total agreement with that statement. I think it was very ill timed. As I said, I don’t think it was planned. If it was properly planned, I would have wanted to believe, that if something like this was properly planned, we would in fact have been seeing mounting political activity in our country among all the would be politicians all the potential politicians and you don’t see anything like that happening. The country is just as quiet politically as it was before Thursday.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: What is the reason for that, do you think? I mean, we are just constitutionally, months away from elections anyhow.

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Yes agreed. Since January this year, I have been on Radio Montserrat on numerous occasions telling all the active politicians and all the would be politicians, that time is short, and still no one has mounted any form of political activity. Now basically, with the exception of a few others, and myself everybody is caught with the term they use, “with their pants down.”
It is apparent that no body is prepared, especially on the opposition side to mount a political campaign right now. So, to me clearly, from my position, I don’t see any really good specific or decisive planning in this move, I see it as a move that came out of an internal altercation inside of the NPLM camp, and as a result of that the lady resigned.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: Now, speculation has been rife about what will happen next. Is the government going to collapse? When elections will be called? Will it be before December?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Well, I’ve spent most of my life studying the constitution. A man almost beat me to death in Salem Saturday. He tell me I doan wuk, and I get wuk and I doan tek it. He wants to know wha I do?
Well, this little answer here is a small part of the many things that I do. I spend huge amounts of my time thinking and writing analysis and placing them in the public domain. There is nothing in the constitution that demands that the Hon. Chief Minister resign.
There is nothing there that demands that he collapse government. The constitution gives him the option to dissolve government at his will, and this is one of the protections within our constitution, that protects the Nation. There is no way that one person in and of them selves should have the ability, any one particular individual, to collapse a government.
So, in this instance I could see, even though I make a lot of noise about the constitution, I can see where in this particular situation it works for us. If the Hon. Chief Minister decides to collapse government it would be because, he had an agreement of the majority of his colleagues sitting on his side of the house, which is what it demands.
It is a majority that put a government in office. It is a majority that must remove that government. The other option is if the Hon. Chief Minister is to be removed from office, then a majority of the opposition must clearly vote him through a vote of no confidence out of office.
Unless one of these two things happens then the option remains for the Hon. Chief Minister to determine for himself when he will in fact call elections, if he wants to call it before it is constitutionally due, and I am totally in agreement with the way the constitution is established.
It is established to insure that we don’t have chaos in our country. You cannot have any one person willy nilly just collapsing government at will. Otherwise you have no stability.
Government is elected to serve for five years and we expect that government should serve for that five years and we do not expect that any one person elected Member of Parliament should have the ability to destabalize a country.
There is order to everything and in this instance the order that is demanded is what the constitution says. And, I don’t believe that there is any constitution on the world that will allow any one particular elected Member of Parliament to destabalize a country and bring down the government.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: So what you are saying is that the Chief Minister does not have to go to the Governor today or tomorrow and say that we are dissolving or want the Parliament to be dissolved and elections called because a Minister has resigned?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: No, he doesn’t. The constitution does not say that and as a matter of fact I’ll give you an instance.
In Anguilla who has the same basic constitution as us another British colony the Hon. Hubert Hughes ran a minority government for two years.Simply because there is no clause in the constitution that demands that he cannot run a minority government.
It does not stop him from functioning. If you look at the numbers and I’ve had this argument over the last few days the Hon. Chief Minister still has six voting members sitting on his side of the house. The opposition only has five. So, technically, he still has a majority.
Understand, the only way he does not have a majority, is when you bring a no confidence motion into the house because this is the only time that the two ex officio members don’t have a vote.
But he can still go into the house and technically he has a majority sitting on his side of the house. This is the reality. We are not looking at these things. We are looking at what we believe should happen.
But, when it comes down to matters of this magnitude, you are bound to look at what the constitution says. That is the ultimate guide of law for governance and there is nothing in there that demands that he resigns.
So from my position, no. He is entitled to hold on to a minority government if he so desires and stay there and serve all his time and we should give our highest elected officials a certain degree of respect.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: I think some people are looking at it from the point of view that four out of nine is a minority and there is no way that that minority should govern the majority.

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: I can understand that part, but it’s not four out of nine. In the Legislative Council there are eleven members. These are the things that we have to look at. These are the minor loopholes that are there that allow for changes.
We are looking at eleven voting Members of Parliament. We are not looking at nine voting members of Parliament.
The only time that the nine members of Parliament in the house have a vote without the ex officio members is on a vote of no confidence. This is the only time that the four out of the nine have a minority.
So what I am saying in effect is that if the opposition wants the government out of office and the government wants to sit there and hold on to a minority government the opposition must mount a motion of no confidence in the house.
That is the only way that the can legally and not only mount it but win the vote.
They must mount a motion of no confidence in the house with a clear indication that they can get the five people sitting on their side of the house to vote for them.
Right now the way the situation is my personal opinion is that I would not support a no confidence motion in the house.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: WHY?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: At this moment, because there is no preparation. Look you now have five members of parliament sitting on the opposition side of the house. Right there you have the nucleus for a functioning government with all the experience you desire.
You don’t hear those five members of Parliament saying that they are mounting an election campaign together. They are offering the people no viable alternative to the present government.
What we are doing is dissolving Parliament to give the people a chaotic situation where they have no idea who to replace the government with and I am simply saying the opposition is not prepared the opposition is not demonstrating that it is behaving in the best interest of the nation. You have five of the most experienced people you could ever get right now in this country who want to serve as government sitting on the opposition side of the house.
You don’t see the five of them speaking together. You don’t see the five of them uniting. You don’t see the five of them coming to the public and say look this is the best possible team you could get right now to run this country.
If I don’t see that happening I see absolutely no reason why I should support a move in the house to dissolve parliament and go to the elections when all we are going to do is create chaos.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: So what you are saying is that there is an opportunity now for the opposition to take over the reigns of power of government?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Of course they must demonstrate that they want to do that. How could you want to collapse government and you are not demonstrating that you want to be government?
This is my point. The only way that you can show the People that you have the desire of the Nation at heart. Not destroy, not bring down a government and throw us into a chaotic six-week situation of campaigns where the people have no clear indication what so ever of who to choose.
What we have is a diffused opposition out there right now with a lot of people having the idea that they are going to become the Chief Minister.
Lets look at the National interest of this country and forget who is going to become the Chief Minister. We need people who have the capacity to run this country, people who have the interest of the country at heart.
And I don’t see it been demonstrated right now and until I see that demonstration clearly happening I personally cant support a no confidence motion in the house.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: So what do you think the opposition needs to do now that it finds it self in this situation?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: The opposition should have been in a room together since Thursday morning. Not one member of the opposition has called Cheddy. So either Cheddy is a non-entity or you know?
What I am saying is if they have the Nation at heart, I would have thought by now that every member of the opposition would have been holding close personal conversations with each other in terms of a way forward.
As far as I see the only way they see forward, is to destroy the existing government and go out there and just spread mass confusion among the people and force them to choose among five or seven or eight groupings. That makes no sense to me, personally, and I am not going to assist it.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: You have always been very critical of this last minute campaigning, last minute selection of candidates and so forth. How can we correct this?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Well, we have a golden opportunity right now. I have been trying to correct this since January this year. As I’ve stated again Cheddy is the only person who has actively attempted to raise the campaign approach to politics in this country.
I’ve been campaigning since January and basically you have people who supposed to be campaigning saying they don’t why he is talking so early. Why he come out so early?
But look now it is proven that it was not early at all, because if they had followed the lead they would have been prepared since Thursday to be out there campaigning Thursday night. Instead they still out there shuffling shuffling and not one of them could field a viable team.
It is ridiculous. You have a viable team sitting in government right now. You have a viable team sitting in Parliament on the opposition side of the house right now.
You not going to get a better experienced team than the team you have sitting there right now and I personally think that it is a crying shame if those five people cant come together right now and form a viable team to go out there and provide the people with a sensible option if you want to replace Mr. Osborne.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: So looking at the situation as it stands now, Cheddy what do you see looking down the next six weeks, twelve weeks or even eighteen weeks?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Well I personally would like to believe that Mr. Osborne would not want to see chaos.
As such, I personally would prefer to see Mr. Osborne hold on to his minority government until such time that the nation and everyone in it begins to now understand that a situation is here where election is at hand and we are now going to have to pay more attention to the potential candidates and the candidates and to what these candidates are out there doing.
And, if they are out there doing things that is not in the best interest of the Nation, the country has enough time now to tell them. “Look man is stupid ness all you out there doing and we are not going to support no stupid ness.”
Unless you bring us a viable sensible political team we are not going to give anyone a mandate. This is what I would like to see happen now.
We have enough time for that to happen and we have enough time for people like my self to go out there and speak to that ultimate goal and get it out there.
I would prefer to see the government stay where it is not with standing the fact that I did not go and take the ministry that was offered to me.
That does not mean that I am in agreement with collapsing any government and to insure that it wont be collapsed on my part I wont support a no confidence motion.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: So, you in fact were offered a Ministry to cross over?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Yes, I was. I did not want to address it three or four days ago but I saw it on PTV last night so since they put it on the PTV I can say I was offered a Ministry and I did not take it.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: WHY?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: For the same reason. I feel it is a personal conflict between two people and it is not in the best national interest and I am not going to take side with either one of them. The same way I would not side with Mr. Osborne and shore up his government at this point in time I am not going to side with Mrs. Howe and vote for a no confidence motion I don’t think either one is in the best interest of the Nation.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: Going back to the non elected Members of Parliament who have voting powers; here is an opportunity, now that we are looking at a constitutional review to do something about it. Would you support something like that?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Well, it is already in the motions that we have accepted. That is the only one actually that actually means something to me. Out of all the things that we put together, I don’t know if you heard my presentation Wednesday night? I am saying that this whole constitutional review thing is going nowhere.
It is going backwards and it is of no real benefit to us. The only one real thing that is in there actually is that same thing. That is, removing the voting powers of the ex officio members. That is the only significant change that we have submitted to the British government. All the rest are mere cosmetic changes. They are of no real benefit to the future development of this country.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: What are the chances of that happening though, the British government agreeing to something like that?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Of course they would agree to it, because it is one of the things that they suggested. What the British government wants is some cosmetic change in our constitution so that they can tell the international community that these are the things that we agreed to change.
In other words they don’t want us to change our status quo so therefore if we don’t put anything there that indicates that we want our status quo changed they will agree to other things.
Removing the ex officio members voting powers does not change our status quo. We still remain under the authority of Britain and the Governor. Which is what they want to tell the international community.
These People have no desire to move what so ever. They want to be our colony forever. I am saying that it is time for all of these things to change, and these necessary changes don’t exist in any of the proposals that we put forward so far.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: Mr. Chedmond Browne any words that would like to leave with our listeners?

 

CHEDMOND BROWNE-: Well I’m just truly appreciative of the opportunities that I get to speak on Radio Montserrat from time to time. I hope that I will be getting to speak a little more often now that the situation is as such that we need people to articulate from their perspective certain positions and I am appreciative of the air time that you have given me.

 

HERMAN SERGEANT-: Thank you very much that was Mr. Chedmond Browne Member of Parliament, and that’s it for our news feature for today. I am Herman Sergeant.

 

 

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