October 1, 2004

“Staking Out’ Progressive Positions”

George McIntosh

In the run up to Universal Adult Suffrage in 1951, a Committee was appointed to consider certain details of constitutional reform. This Committee met at Government Office on Monday, August 8, 1949. Among the terms of reference was that of deciding on the nature of the literacy test and the manner in which it shall be conducted: “and other matters relevant thereto. {{more}}” When the issue was considered, the Chairman pointed to the literacy test used in one of the Canadian provinces where the voter before being allowed to cast his ballot would be asked to identify his name on a list presented. Once this was done he would be given a ballot paper and told to sign his name opposite the candidate whom he wished to support.

While the majority of members agreed with the institution of the literacy test, George McIntosh strongly opposed it. The meeting in a majority vote decided, however, to go along with a literacy test. This was, of course later removed.

McIntosh at Meeting of Labour Leaders in Trinidad, April 1949

At a meeting at which Caribbean Labour leaders and members of the Legislative Councils of some Caribbean colonies denounced the restrictions on the entry, movement and speech of Labour leaders, the Port-of-Spain Gazette referred to the speech of George McIntosh.

“Stressing that there should be no federation without dominion status and responsible self-government Honourable George McIntosh of St. Vincent strongly condemned the restriction on the movements of labour leaders. It was his view that as soon as any person came forward to help the workers, he was dubbed a communist. He said that he organised the workers in St.Vincent as a result of which there was at the moment a union of 11,000 strong. He also urged that the people throughout the Caribbean should co-operate and struggle for a better standard of life and full political freedom.”

(The Vincentian, April 16, 1949 quoting from the Port-of-Spain Gazette)