The tributes which were paid in respect of the passing of the late Sir Vincent Beache reflect both the esteem in which he was held as well as the high regard for the party and government to which he was so committed.
Unfortunately, there are still those among us who seem incapable of rising above party political rivalry and seek to abuse freedom of speech to denigrate those with whom they disagree on every possible occasion. This says a lot about what is wrong in our society and the depths to which we have sunk.
No doubt the death of Sir Vincent is a great loss to his dear “Comrade”, Prime Minister Gonsalves. The close relationship which evolved between these two erstwhile political rivals, especially in the context of not just party rivalry but the intense struggle for the North Central Windward seat in Parliament, is certainly an example of how not only political circumstances, but personal engagement, can transform relations.
Both grew in stature as a result to the extent that Sir Vincent became de facto the most trusted confidant of Prime Minister Gonsalves, and the person whose advice he continually sought. This in turn had political repercussions for there are those in our society, not just the political opposition, but ordinary citizens as well who had reservations about what they considered to be the “overtime’ stay of Sir Vincent in terms of influence on policy and administration.
That aside however, it must be remembered that only Sir James Mitchell, among the “old guard” of Parliamentarians from the early seventies is here with us to share the experiences of those earlier times. It is not always remembered that Sir Vincent’s 26 years in Parliament is surpassed only by Ebenezer Joshua’s uninterrupted service and that of Sir James himself. His is therefore not just a loss to his family, comrades and political colleagues, but a national loss as well.
In a country not known for documenting history or learning from the experiences of our forebears, the collective loss from the passing of stalwarts in our society, is one which we can ill afford to endure. Yet it is not for us to lament on these matters, for time will take its natural course and absorb us all in the process.
As more and more of the veterans in our society end their stint on earth, we must ask ourselves, collectively, what is it that we have learnt from the contribution of those who preceded us? And, what is it we can do to maintain the positives that emanated from such persons and how can we maintain those positives and work to develop and improve them?
In the field of politics younger persons have been making their appearance at the parliamentary crease, to speak figuratively. As more of the older generation bows out, the greater is the need for the newer arrivals to make an impact on the game. This is particularly so because today’s generation is more informed, better educated and more exposed to the rest of the world. However it is also true that in many instances they are not as people-centred and socially rounded.
It is time for the aspirants to future national political leadership begin to put a generational stamp of politics and social and economic development on SVG. They cannot just go along with the politics of the past, the politics of division and disunity, hate and spite, but must chart a new course for our country.
Time to step up to the plate!