Vincent Ian Beache was born on August 13, 1931 in South Rivers, St Vincent. He had his early education at the St Vincent Boys Grammar School after which he migrated to the United Kingdom, where he served in the British Air Force. While in the UK, he trained as an electronics and electrical technician.
Beache entered politics in 1972, when as a candidate of the St Vincent Labour Party, he was defeated in the North Central Windward constituency by Victor Cuffy of the People’s Political Party (PPP). Thereafter, Beache was to win the seat on the next three elections held on 1974,1979, and 1984, twice trouncing the likes of Ralph Gonsalves and Victor Cuffy.
From January 1975 to 1978, under the St Vincent Labour Party (SVLP) government, Sir Vincent was Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture. Between March 1978 and April 1984, Sir Vincent served as Member of Parliament for North Central Windward and Minister of Trade and Agriculture.
He retained his seat as Member of Parliament for North Central Windward in 1984 when Sir James Mitchell’s New Democratic Party (NDP) was voted into office. However, Hudson Tannis, who had lost the West Kingstown seat to John Horne, was elected Leader of the Labour Party to replace the retired Cato in 1985. Beache became leader after Tannis’ tragic death in August 1986.
He served as Opposition Leader between July 1985 and March 1989, when the NDP made a clean sweep of the polls. He became the scapegoat for Labour’s total defeat in 1989, and subsequent decline. By 1992, Stalky John moved him out of the top spot. Beache however returned to lead the Labour Party in the 1994 elections during which the St Vincent and the Grenadines Labour Party (SVGLP) and the Movement for National Unity (MNU) of Ralph Gonsalves contested as a unified ticket.
The Unity Labour Party (ULP) was founded in 1994 by a merger of the MNU and the SVLP, with Beache as its leader. At the end of the contentious 1998 general elections, when polling results giving the NDP eight seats and the ULP seven seats were announced, Beache declared that he could not accept the outcome and called for fresh elections, alleging voter intimidation, fraud and bribery. This was promptly rebutted by the NDP.
Beache resigned as leader of the ULP in 1998, making way for Gonsalves to assume leadership of the party. When the ULP was elected to office in March 2001, Beache was returned as Member of Parliament for South Windward. He served as Minister of National Security, the Public Service and Airport Development in the Gonsalves’ ULP administration of 2001 – 2005. He also acted as Prime Minister at various times between 2001 and 2005.
He resigned from Government and active politics just prior to the general elections of 2005, vacating his seat in South Windward where he was successfully replaced by his son, Glen Beache.
In retirement he remained active in public life, serving as a close advisor to Prime Minister Gonsalves and on the boards of several Government owned companies and organizations. He was credited with responsibility for the construction of the Belle Isle prison and also drove the process for the establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Civil Aviation Authority (ECCAA) while contributing to the establishment of the Argyle International Airport (AIA), the Canouan jet airport and many other important initiatives like the Campden Park Industrial Estate.
Honours and awards
In 2002, Sir Vincent was awarded the Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for distinguished public service.
He was married to wife Lady Vida Beache, and was the father of six sons — Eugene, Alex, Keith, Stockton, Paul and Glen and grandfather of 11.
Sir Vincent died at 3:10 a.m. on August 5, 2019 at his home at Spring Estate in St Vincent and the Grenadines. He passed after a period of illness, one week short of his 88th birthday. He will be accorded a State Funeral on Monday, 19 August 2019. (Adapted from Caribbean Elections)