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Part 5 - Our Resolution to Remain British!

After the collapse of the West Indies Federation and with Jamaica taking its final steps towards independence, the Cayman Islands had to make a firm decision as to who it would follow, Jamaica or Britain.

The political parties of the day took centre stage in discussing the issue. The National Democratic Party, which was led by Mr. Ormond Panton and Warren Conolly campaigned for greater self government above all. Most of the party thought that greater self government could only be achieved if the Cayman Islands remained with Jamaica.

On the opposite side of the fence, were the leaders of the Christian Democratic Party. Party members such as Ducan Merren, Willie Farrington and Burns Rutty felt that the Cayman Islands should remain with Britain and thought that the islands’ quest for greater self government could be achieved this way.

This issue received support on both sides and the competition was fierce. The issue became heated and as a result of this Governor Blackburne revisited Grand Cayman on January 17, 1962 to see if a consensus could be reached.

Upon his arrival to the meeting, the MLA members of the Sister Islands, Capt. Keith Tibbetts and Mr. Nolan Foster, presented Governor Blackburne with a petition signed by 345 of the 435 registered voters of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. The Petition stated that “if Grand Cayman chose to remain with an independent Jamaica, the Sister Islands would seek separate Crown Colony status under Britain”.

The issue was finally brought before the feet of the elected members of the Assembly where it was debated and voted upon. To the Governor Blackburne’s surprise, a unanimous resolution had been reached. It was resolved by the Assembly members that “It was the wish of the Cayman Islands 1. To continue their present association with Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom; 2. To negotiate with her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom for internal self government taking into account the wishes of the people of the Cayman Islands as to timing.”

With the overarching question of who to join, now settled, was the only thing left to negotiate internal self government for the Cayman Islands with the United Kingdom. Would it be achieved in the next round of constitutional changes?

Last Updated: 2007-07-03