The Governor's ceremonial uniform is symbolic of "the discomfort we endure in the unnatural relationship it represents", says Ewart Brown. *File photo
The Governor's ceremonial uniform is symbolic of "the discomfort we endure in the unnatural relationship it represents", says Ewart Brown. *File photo

THURSDAY, MARCH 22: Bermuda's relationship with the UK is “unnatural” because it is “based upon a simple belief — the British are superior”.

This from former Premier Dr Ewart Brown, who was speaking at a conference today in the Cayman Islands.

Making his public address since leaving office nearly 18 months ago, Dr Brown said: “To fully understand the nature of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the Overseas Territories, you must call to remembrance the fundamentals of the British Empire.

“That institution is based upon a simple belief: the British are superior.

“To deny the existence of that belief destroys the foundational understanding of the relationship.

“It means that not only can you not understand them, but you cannot understand us, the peoples of the remaining territories.”

Dr Brown talked about recent budget cutbacks in Bermuda and parliamentarians taking it upon themselves to take pay cuts.

But he added: “Not once have I heard even a whisper that the $1.6 million annual outlay that goes to Government House should be cut back.

“Is there no moral obligation for the British Governor to lead by example, and volunteer to take a pay cut? Oops, I forgot. The British are superior.”

He went on to compare accommodations provided for the Premier and the Governor.

“On our tiny island where land is scarce, our Premier's actual residence is nice, but unspectacular.

“It sits in something of a seven-acre shallow glen just off of a major thoroughfare, while the Premier's official residence is a beautiful front that has entertainment, but no residential capacity.

“On the other hand, Government House, where the British Governor lives and entertains, is a stately, manor-like structure sitting on a 37-acre hill overlooking the North Shore, replete with a private chef and other staff.

“But, don't forget, they are superior.”

Dr Brown told the conference he bore no animosity towards the British.

He praised the Queen, saying: “The lady in whose name most of their work is done is a gracious, kind and engaging individual.

“To my certain recollection, the Queen bore none of the traits of many of those who profess to be her servants in our lands across the Region.”

But the former Premier told his audience that the “steady diet of British superiority” had had an effect even on the independent nations of the region.

He added: “In one such country, I marvelled at a commemorative plaque, erected to mark the opening of a capital project, completed with UK aid. The citation reads in part: ‘The British were here, thank God’. ”

Dr Brown continued: “So the sole ‘mutual’ element of the relationship is British superiority.

“No amount of Whitehall posturing about ‘a new relationship’ and ‘partnership through progress’ and all of the other catchy phrases used over the last decade can dilute this single truth.

“By definition, the relationship between the UK and the Overseas Territories cannot be based on mutual interests.

“The assigned Governors, or overseers, are accountable to the UK and so must safeguard the UK's interests first. How is this manifested in reality?”

Dr Brown also talked about the symbolism of the Governor’s ceremonial uniform: “Two Governors of Bermuda have offered to shed the uniform, and we have declined their generosity.

“I cannot speak for my successor, but my reasons were clear.

“The uniform is exactly symbolic of the office held and the relationship experienced.

“The imagery is as accurate today as it was in 1912, and the discomfort Governors have in wearing the uniform is equaled by the discomfort we endure in the unnatural relationship it represents.”

Dr Brown was speaking at the 50/50 Conference, which is being hosted by the University of the Cayman Islands in collaboration with the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), the University of the West Indies, Mona, and the International College of the Cayman Islands. The year 2012 marks 50 years since the end of the West Indies Federation. Premier Paula Cox is the keynote speaker.

Ewart Brown breaks 18-month silence