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should protect the rights of the people of the Colony. There
must necessarily be a moral dilemma when it is abundantly
clear that the interests of the British owners are irreconcilable

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with those of the people of the Colony. In British Guiana there fut
To Guiana

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is no doubt that if the P.P.P. had been allowed to have its way
chaos would have resulted. 'Bookers and the P.P.P. cannot
exist together,' Mr. Burnham had told me, and he spoke the
truth. The rule of the P.P.P. would have brought suffering and veear
starvation to the Guianese.


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It must have been clear that when the P.P.P. took power To Guiana there would be differences between them and those appointed not fint to provide the checks and balances' of the Constitution-the, Governor and the ex-officio members of the legislature. After have "Brit the crisis both sides recriminated against each other, but no evidence was produced that the ex-officio members, who in-vertcluded British and Guianese, had acted without a sense of cut is their responsibility to the new Constitution. The Governor was an avid believer in self-determination for colonial peoples, c and he worked unceasingly in an attempt to give the doomed Constitution its chance. The ex-officio members claimed that the P.P.P. members were intolerant even of their presence in

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the chamber of the Executive Council and sought to turn the en Council from a policy-making body into a body whose function →

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among the Party members. The P.P.P. accused the ex-officio members in precisely the same terms. The P.P.P. ministers infuriated the ex-officio members by announcing and putting into effect important changes in Government policy without first informing the Governor or the Executive Council. The Governor objected repeatedly that the procedure and attitude A adopted by the P.P.P. ministers amounted to dictation of the policy of the Executive Council. It is a revealing example of the political innocence of the Party that it replied by saying that since they had been elected by popular vote its members alone represented the 'will of the people' and were thus entitled to dictate the policy without discussion or debate.

The Party had always attacked the presence of the representatives of imperialist interests' on various boards and committees. It now insisted that each Minister should have the sole discretion of appointments to the committees that came under


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his department. 'The appointments to Boards and Committees', wrote Mr. Ashton Chase, a P.P.P. Minister, 'are made' by the dominant class of the day. While the capitalist class is in power-as they have been in British Guiana from the beginning of our colonial history-appointments were made to suit their interests. A working-class party in power with the power to make appointments would appoint committees with a bias in favour of the working class.' They accordingly appointed three primary-school teachers who were P.P.P. supporters to the Education Committee, while former representatives were excluded. The aim of the Party was clearly that all organizations should come directly and absolutely under its control. Had the P.P.P. wished to have its representatives on the committees because it genuinely believed the committees to be ~ biased, they would have had justification; but they wished to act in a way which was totalitarian, and considered intolerable by the Governor and the British administration. In the same way the Party tried to take over control of the schools, local government bodies and the Public Service. In April, 1953, the Governor set up a Public Service Commission to advise him, and the P.P.P. attacked it as an attempt to brake their power. "This Public Service Commission', wrote Mr. Martin Carter in Thunder, ‘is nothing but the body which controls the State. This Public Service Commission is not controlled by the representatives of the people. Although the P.P.P. has won the majority of the seats at the last General Election, and allegedly controls the Government, yet staff and state power still remain in the hands of those who have ruled us for centuries.' And Dr. Jagan said, in a speech, ‘They have appointed a Civil Service Commission because they do not want us to have anything to do with the appointment of civil servants. We would like to have power to appoint our own people, who would be able to do our work.' Control of the trade unions was the most important aim of the Party and the actions arising out of it may be said to have precipitated the crisis. I will not go into the details of the disputes over the unions—they have been exhaustively studied by the Robertson Report (pp. 58–63)—but in outline the situation was as follows: the recognized union of the sugar industry is the Man Power Citizens' Association, supported by the British T.U.C. and the International Confederation of

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Trade Unions. The P.P.P. supported the Guiana Industrial Workers' Union, with a membership of 400 and affiliations with the Communist-dominated World Federation of Trade Unions. The Guiana Industrial Workers' Union was formed in 1948, during a period of unrest on the sugar estates, all of its founders being members of the British Guiana East Indian Association and none of them workers in the sugar industry. After the crisis the T.U.C. made a statement that the P.P.P. had through its Ministers 'consistently endeavoured to destroy the M.P.C.A., the only existing trade union organization with collective bargaining agreements, and which provides for the establishment of joint negotiating machinery, which has resulted in considerable improvements in the conditions of sugar workers.' The M.P.C.A., it was admitted by those who defended it, was poor, weak and inefficient, but its destruction was necessary for the P.P.P.. because it did not support the Party's plans for Sugar. The Sugar Producers' Association said that it was impossible for them to recognize boththe G.I.W.U. and the M.P.C.A. as representing the general workers in the industry, but that it might be possible for one, to represent field-workers, the other factory workers. This appeasement did not suit the Party; they intervened and as a result the G.I.W.U. called for a strike among the sugar workers. The reasons for the strike ignored any question of the recognition of the G.I.W.U.

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While the strike was still on, a strike created and openly supported by the existing Government of the Colony, the Party produced a Labour Relations Bill for immediate debate and approval.1 The contents of this Bill, which British trade unions would have found totally unacceptable both in principle and in detail, show that government by the extremists of the P.P.P. was now out of hand. ‘We find it impossible to believe', says the Robertson Report, 'that for all their youth, their inex-.. perience of government and their considerable conceit in their "own infallibity, the P.P.P. Ministers could ever have thought of this Bill as a normal piece of legislation capable of being administered in a reasonable and practical manner.'

By the end of September the situation was even more out of hand; the P.P.P. had produced the desired crisis; the Governor 1 The strike was called off just before the Bill was introduced.

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was under extreme pressure and the Colony in a state of tur-
moil. Inflammatory speeches were being made. Mr. Burnham
said: "There is another fellow, the Attorney-General; he is one
who is to legislate the laws and he can do as he likes. We will
also have to get rid of him too. The next person is the Chief
Secretary. Yes, I am referring to Gutch... Who is Savage [the
Governor] to be vested with all this power? Why can't our boys
be given these powers? Poor boy, Savage, we will soon make
him pack his bundle and take the boat.'

There was a run on the Savings Bank owing to the general
lack of confidence in the Government's ability to use the money
with wisdom. Ministers toured the country to encourage the
strikers to stay out, and those who were against the strike were
punished by having their cattle maimed or their rice burnt.
Rice valued at nearly £6,000 was burnt in this way. The Arch-
bishop of the West Indies intervened with a condemnation of
the strike-promoting Ministers and a request that the Secretary
of State for the Colonies should 'take such action as he may
deem fit to ensure confidence in the Government and the
proper and efficient working of the constitution.' A Negro
politician opposed to the P.P.P. told me that constant threats
were made on his life during this period and that he went every-
where with a gun. The possibility of general violence was in
the air. Although the Guianese-Indian and African—are
gentle people whom it is difficult to imagine in a state of riot,
they are emotional, and the P.P.P. had proved themselves able
to rouse these emotions. 'Me mind gi'e me to do it' is a common
Guianese phrase to explain any irrational action. After the
suspension and the arrival of troops reliable evidence appeared
to show that there had been an arson plot; materials for setting
fire to the Archbishop's house were found by the Archbishop

Shimself 'under the house'.

That some drastic action had to be taken there can be no doubt; but was there just cause for the calling in of troops and the suspension of the Constitution? Could the Governor not have used his reserve powers? The P.P.P. had been put in power by democratic election; did it not make Britain's talk of self-determination an absurdity if its power were to be arbitrarily taken away? The crux of the matter was that the Party would not accept and would not work the Constitution, with

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the result that the economy of the Colony was descending into chaos, legislation was at a standstill and the administration was disrupted. The P.P.P. had been given constant intimations that its attitude was an impossible one but the Party pursued a line which forced the Governor and the Colonial Office to make a choice between two actions; to grant an unlimited Constitution, which would have been the equivalent of abandoning the Colony, destroying our interests there and leaving the people to extricate themselves as best they might; or to suspend the Constitution, take official power from the Party and resume government under the old system. This was done, and the cause of self-determination for the colonies as a whole-not only in British Guiana-was, as the Guianese themselves would put it, 'humbugged' by the action of a handful of sincere but irresponsible men.

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