Editor: Prime Minister Cato’s head was relatively big and he was disparagingly called “Big Head Mc Guffy”. But then none equated “big head” with “big brain”. For there is no one “big brain”, politically or otherwise. It is an understood truth that original ideas, absolutely independent of previous knowledge and experience, are few in number. Our development over time comes through the sharing of ideas in many heads. Prime Minister Andrew Hollness was correct in his recent admittance that he stands on the shoulders of those past, to continue their nation-building.
The Argyle bridge filled a need that all future politicians should honour. Also it was almost sacrilegious for the NDP to oppose the AIA so emotionally, when early formulation of such ideas took place in their own minds, By comparison, the Cross Country road and the Buccama fiasco were less obvious and riskier undertakings which always needed greater scrutiny and less hype. Michael Manley and Julius Nyere and their 1970’s efforts in the G-77, supplied a framework for the ex-colonies to fight globalization but to date the needed transforming work has not been done. Caricom’s political and economic solidarity, stronger organized labour unions, enlarged domestic markets, workers’ rights and production and import substitution have all lagged behind. Neocolonialism is still very real. Never must we forget that the World Bank and the IMF were the chief opponents of the G-77’s New International Economic Order. Yet today politics is focused on the present with little regards for past thinking and structures.
Vincentians must be careful that they are not locked into this political now and held in a permanent state of pleasurable distraction by the new and the spectacular. Does the talk of a New City and a New Tunnel fit into this scenario? We already have a city to progress and maintain. What about Little Tokyo and its shore front? Paul’s Lot? Rose Place? China Town? Harbour Club? The Police Headquarters? Unsightly street congestion? At least, have these improved. The City of Arches is still bursting with potential. But back to the Independence Prime Minister.
Mr Cato was not extraordinary. His personal arrogance got him convicted in the law Courts and in his reactionary response to SVG’s growing intellectualism and the Teachers’ strike, he stood on the wrong side of history. He did his due but to double-speak and now call him a “colossus astride Vincentian politics” is stretching it too far. But I would not condemn him for independence as per a Constitutional Monarchy. With an unsettled foreign policy, the CCJ years to come, his was a practical move. As our parliamentary democracy matured we could always choose when to rid ourselves of the figurehead monarchy. That we have not done so after 40 years is no fault of his.
In the 2009 Referendum persons on both sides of the political divide voted to retain the Queen mainly because the proposed new Constitution had uncharted areas and the nation felt uncomfortable.
This is reasonable. What is unreasonable is to continue to punish Vincentians for that decision and to label them stupid. It was Machiavelli who said “ there is nothing more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things”. That “No” vote should have been considered likely, even highly probable. If the people were not convinced, it is the politicians that failed. Go back to the drawing-board and do the work to make them ready. Just look at Britain’s Brexit referendum woes.
The Searchlight’s editorial of 22nd March 2019 simply opined that we must accept all the baggage of and reflect on the compromised independence constitution. Respectfully, we do not have to accept all the baggage, especially the Queen’s Honours and I do not think it fitting to call it compromised, for the reasons given above. Of necessity, it would always be a work-in-progress. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having our own system of National honours like other Commonwealth Countries with the crown as Head of State. Even nominated U.K citizens can receive local honours from us. A merit system of Local Honours will do well to motivate and unite our divided country, begun through the setting up of a non-partisan committee.
To me, retaining and using the Queen’s Honours, yet blaming our people, is blatantly hypocritical. One cannot have his cake and eat it too.
Steve J Wyllie