James Mitchell: A myth of great premiership

The views expressed herein are solely those of the writer.

By Professor Richard A. Byron-Cox Ph.D

Opinion: As we curse and quarrel to a next general elections, flavored episodically with comic relief à grâce de intellectual imbecility of the likes of Patel, Nature, and of late Lavern, I write this because patriotism demands I hold a torch to the disingenuous stories peddled to deceive, by a gang practicing conscious amnesia. I here address the nefarious deception, indecent and ridiculous falsehood that Mitchell’s was an honourable Premiership -not to mention great- simply because it spanned 17 years! Slavery spanned thousands!

John Paul II and MLK. Jr. among others are in unison that the true measure of any society is its treatment of its weakest and most vulnerable. When Mitchell left office more than 27% of the population was desperately poor and close to 40% was poor!! The Poor Relief was 60 EC monthly. Thousands literally when to bed hungry! Mitchell’s hand-picked successor, the starched, petty-bourgeois-minded Eustace was alarmed at the poverty in SVG! Friday and his Ananiases and Sapphiras need to get off their crackpipe about “good old days” under Mitchell. No such second existed, much more days!

James took a resolution to parliament giving him sole and absolute power to administer to this country economic asphyxiation by way of an Italian Mafia-style nylon cord, called Ottley Hall! Then unashamedly hid behind the dark drapes of the Privy Council to avoid the light of accountability for his private squander of the public purse!  Ottley Hall might be the most notorious of James’ financial flippancy with our money, but this was a learnt behavior, as from the 18 million Estranka to the millions spent on traffic lights confirm.

 Godwin! Your pretend historical amnesia is but demonstration of dastardly political dishonesty!

James was more devastating than hurricane Mitch in his destruction of the state sector of the economy. Sugar was murdered and Georgetown became an economic cemetery. The Dairy was summarily cremated with the “diamonds” given to fraudsters from Trinidad! Arrowroot, cooking oil, the Campden Park Industrial Estate, the Marketing Cooperation, the stone crushing industry among others, were all victims of the Mitchell guillotine.  And as bananas succumbed to the removal of trade preference, James in a speech to open the Union Island  fisheries complex contemptuously trumpeted, “I open this so that when dem aint ha’ banana up there (pointing to St. Vincent), you go have fish down here.” I was standing less than 10 feet from him.

Godwin! Speak the truth and speak it ever!

After razing industry, James did zilch to tackle unemployment. When asked about it he responded, “Italy is bigger than SVG and it has unemployment.” His is the most anti-poor and anti-worker administration this country has seen since suffrage in 1951! After refusing public servants’ just demand for increase in salary, he tabled the “Greedy bill.” Justice came out on the streets in protest! James brandished violence, thundering, “I done tell my police force …….. if is war dey want, is war dey go get!”

Godwin! There must be some space for integrity in your being!  

Special harshness was dished to our nations’ future, i.e., its children. The public library was consciously all but destroyed. Only 33 out of every hundred of secondary school-aged children got a place in one. Salt was poured in the wound as a significant amount could only attend half day school. James wasn’t done. Only four primary school teachers ever saw the doors of a university. Many preferred menial jobs up north to the alternative starvation wage at home. Schools were so decrepit -wattle and daub fashionable in the Grenadines-, that their repair was priority numero uno for Gonsalves on taking office. And as if there was special spite for boys, James’ gang made a woman head of the lone all-male institution in the country! I await the day a Prime Minister will have the cojones to act similarly with GHS!

 Godwin! Don’t disrespect my intelligence with shameless dishonest gibberish about “fixing education.”  

More than 80% of the lands on Canouan was given away to the NDP foreign friends. Locals are now sandwiched between the rich and famous in the north and south. This deal was sealed thus, “Do what you want to do, once the people of Canouan get something.” The so-called investors could simply build a pit latrine and say, “That’s for the people,” and they would have fulfilled their obligation!!  And, a mosquito-infested swamp became the nightmare reality of an illusionary Union Island Marina. 

The NCB was an open sesame for NDP swindlers and international conmen. There is the sickening episode where the bank tried to get its money back from one of these thieves, only for him to sue the bank and get even more money from it!! James’ contempt for us was on display in every possible form. A monstrosity was built in the heart of Kingstown; the young were encouraged “to bat but don’t score,” he diagnosed that we had “breadfruit mentality” and  publicly declared that he had no obligation to truthfully answer the opposition’s questions in parliament. He tried to starve the Vincentian Newspaper into submission to his will; and his AG threatened both Glen Jackson and Ralph Gonsalves with jail time for participating in the democratic process! There is much more, much much……more!

Godwin! Take a word from the wise. Stop your falsification of history!! Listen to master calypsonian Carton “CP” Hall’s “The Gambler.” Or, to Leacock who affirms, Michell’s was “a lumber and cement government.” It’s noxiously despicable and an assault on reason that James’ Premierships was honourable, not to mention great!!

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