Two Islands One paradise - Beautiful St. Kitts and Nevis

   
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         Statehood Flag And Song
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“Great Trinity of Islands

 

Great trinity of islands

Set in an azure sea,

Saint Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla

We pledge our lives to thee,

God grant we keep our cherish land

United, great and free.

 

Great trinity of islands,

Your gifts beyond compare,

Green fertile fields and mountains,

Gland skies serene and clear,

Bright gleaming sands by peaceful shores,

These bounteous gifts we share.

 

The famous and the valiant

Illume your history’s page

The triumph of your patriots

Shall shine from age to age

We pledge our lives to guard and keep

Our godly heritage

 

Great trinity of islands,

God grant that here shall we

Forever strive with honour,

With skill and industry

To build and keep our cherish land

United, great and free.

 

                                    

                Origins Of Statehood and The Anguilla Experience

  Anguilla was formally part of the Associated State of St. Kitts-Nevis. It was after a century and a half of protests against the union with St. Kitts that Anguilla finally threw off the shackles of its double colony status and took over it’s own affairs on May 30th, 1967.

  That was when the three islands were created an Associated State with Britain with the Central Government in Basseterre St. Kitts having full control of the internal affairs.

   Anguillians always despised the Labour Party Government led by the late Premier Robert Bradshaw. They accused him of dictatorial rule threatening to turn the island into a dessert, withholding the Anguillians fair share of grant aid from Britain; being responsible for the island’s neglect and grossly backward and undeveloped condition.

  The Anguillians then went into a panic situation when they found themselves placed squarely in the hands of the hated Labour Regime with little hopes of local government to be passed onto them.

  Here now is the background information about the reasons for

Statehood, its implementation, how Anguilla responded and further outcomes up to the British Invasion on 19th March, 1969.

   In 1962, the Federation of the West Indies was dissolved after both Jamaica and Trinidad had decided to proceed to separate independence. In February and March, representatives of Barbados and the Leeward and Winward islands met in Barbados and submitted detailed proposals for an Eastern Caribbean Federation to the Secretary of State. On April 16th, the Secretary of State informed the House of Commons that the British Government had reached the conclusion that such a constitutional arrangement seemed to offer the best solution.

   A conference was subsequently convened in London in May 1962 in which agreement in principle was reached.

   A Regional Council of Ministers was established and negotiations continued through out 1963 and 1964.

   In February 1965, the Secretary of State for the Colonies visited St. Kitts as part of a Caribbean tour during which he consulted Ministers in several dependent territories on the prospects for federation.

   In 1965 following the adoption of a resolution by the Barbados house of Assembly proposing the independence of Barbados in 1965, the proposals for Easter Caribbean Federation were shelved.

  In December 1965 after preliminary discussions had been held,

Constitutional Proposals were forwarded to Antigua, Dominica,

Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. In May 1966, the St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla Constitution Conference was held in London. Similar conferences had already been held for Antigua, Dominica, St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Grenada.

   The conference agreed on the replacement of the existing colonial relationship between the UK and St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla by a new form of association. The conference report which was signed by both the Member for Nevis and Peter Adams the Member for Anguilla, included a reference to the wish of the St. Kitts Nevis Anguilla Government to set up a system of local government in Nevis and Anguilla.

   In July 1966, elections were held on St. Kitts-Nevis Anguilla.

   The Government Party, (Labour Party) won 7 of the 10 seats (later increased to 8 when an opposition member crossed the floor. The Honourable Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw became Chief Minister. In August 1966, the Legislative Council gave unanimous approval to the proposals agreed at the London Conference.

   In January 1967, Peter Johnston, the British Expert who was to

advise the State Government in the drawing up of the proposed local government legislation, visited Anguilla. His visit was the occasion of a demonstration against Anguilla continued association with St. Kitts.

   On January 31st and February 2nd, the West Indies Bill laws were given it’s second and third readings in the House of Commons.

  Anguilla was not referred to in the debate. On 4th February, 1967, the “Miss Associated State” Competition in Anguilla was the occasion of a violent demonstration against Statehood. On February 9th, the St. Kitts Executive Council resolved “to ask assistance of the Royal Navy and to declare a State of Emergency shortly.”

   On February 15th, 1967, HMS Salisbury landed a contingent of the St. Kitts police supported by Royal Navy personnel, to connect a search in connection with minor disturbances and to make arrests in connection with the events of February 4th.. In reply to questions on May 5th, British Minister, William Whitlock, described the demonstration of February 4th as “obviously in no way an indication of mass opposition to statehood.”

  On February 14th, the House of Lords in committee debated the

West Indies Bill. On February 16th, the House of Lords gave the bill its third reading. In his statement, Lord Berwick included an assurance that the constitution drafted for St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla fully met the provisions related to local government legislations of paragraphs 14 and 50 of the report of the constitutional conference.

   On February 19th, a senior official of the Commonwealth office, Henry Hall arrived in St. Kitts for discussions with the Chief Minister on matters connected to the provisions for local government in the territory. He paid a short visit to Anguilla and held discussions there. Although the basic legislation providing for local government as required by the constitution had already been enacted, it was not feasible for elections to take place before Statehood Day (27th February, 1967).

  Following the senior official’s visit to St. Kitts, Two Orders in Council were made 22nd  February fixing February 27th as Statehood Day for St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla and establishing the new constitution.

  On February 26th, the Minister for Overseas Development, Mr.

Arthur Bottomley, accompanied by the Deputy Chief Minister,

Mr. Paul Southwell, visited Anguilla. There was a demonstration at the airport, but in reporting his visit to the House of Commons, Mr. Bottomley said it was clear that the bulk of the people wished for Anguilla to be a part of the State.

   On 8th March, the Warden’s House, occupied by Vincent Bryan burnt down. Arson was strongly suspected but never proved. By

March 21st, the situation in Anguilla had however returned to normal.

  On April 15th, Mr. Adams the Anguilla Member of the State

Legislative Assembly wrote to the Premier listing several points of grievance. He made a copy of the letter available to the press. Bradshaw dismissed them saying there can be no proposals before his Government.

  On May 30th, the contingent of State Police was forced to leave Anguilla by an armed crowd. The Acting Warden also left the island after shots were fired at the hotel where he was staying following the burning of his house. Mrs Hart, Minister of State told the House of Commons that it was not clear that these events were linked the earlier demonstrations or who was involved in the latest outbreak. She made it clear that since associated status had been granted the British Government were responsible for external affairs and defence but not for internal security. On June 1st, the St. Kitts Government issued a statement about May 20th and on June 3rd, the premier made a broadcast on the situation.

  On the night of June 10th, there was an armed attack on the Police Headquarters and other Government buildings in Basseterre. Several persons including Dr. Herbert and the leader of the Opposition Party were subsequently arrested and charged in connection with this, but at the trials, no convictions were obtained. After the events, the Deputy Premier Southwell visited London to discuss his Government’s request in restoring law and order in Anguilla. Referring to the Anguilla situation in the House of Commons on July 25th, 1968, the Secretary of State, Mr. George Thompson said, “Our involvement in this problem of Anguilla’s relations with St. Kitts arises because of the appeal from the State Government to us and other Governments in the Caribbean area last year to restore the situation arising from the attempted secession of Anguilla”.

   On May 30th, a State of Emergency was declared. In early June, the British Government consulted the Caribbean 
Commonwealth 
Government about the Anguilla problems. Following the consultation, the Prime Minister of Jamaica put forward a proposal that a delegation from the independent Commonwealth Caribbean countries should discuss the problems of Anguilla with the Premier of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. A Commonwealth fact finding mission visited the State from June 27th, to July 3rd. The Members of the delegation were Mr. J M Lloyd, Jamaica, Mr. K Sealy, Trinidad and Tobago, Mr. B.A. N Collins, Guyana and Mr. O.N Brown, Barbados. The mission visited both St. Kitts and Anguilla and held discussions in both islands.

  On 11th, July, the people of Anguilla conducted a referendum. A large majority (1813-5), voted for secession from St. Kitts. A proclamation was subsequently issued in Anguilla. In the debate on July 17th, Lord Berwick which emphasizing the fact that the referendum had no constitutional validity said that this was “not to pass any judgement on its value as an expression of the wishes of the Anguillians.”

  The Government of Jamaica, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados convened a conference of Ministers in Barbados from July 25th – 31st.  Lord Shepherd attended on behalf of the British Government. The Honourable R. L. Bradshaw attended on behalf of the Government of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla and the Anguillian Delegation was headed by Mr. Peter Adams.

  The conference agreed on a number of arrangements, the crucial ones being that the Anguillians agreed to the appointment of a new Warden and to a detachment of the St. Kitts police force being stationed in Anguilla and on the creation of a Peace Keeping Team to be sent to Anguilla. On August 7th, Mr. Adams, Mr. Webster and “all the available members of the council”, issued a document entitled, “Statement to the people of Anguilla by their Government” which disavowed the agreement reached in Barbados.

  On August 17th- 18th, a conference was convened in Kingston

Jamaica to discuss the implementation of the Barbados agreement.

   From September 1st – 12th, Mr. Bradshaw and Minister of

Education, Mr. Bryant, visited London for talks with Commonwealth Office Members. On November 16th, it was announced that Mr. Donald Chapman and Mr. Nigel Fisher would form a parliamentary delegation to visit Anguilla and St. Kitts. The delegation arrived on December 4th.

  On December 4th, the Local Government Act was passed by the

St. Kitts Legislative Assembly. The elections for the island council in Nevis followed on December 15th.

    The Parliamentary Mission secured an interim settlement during its visit to Anguilla and St. Kitts and Mr. Tone Lee was installed as Senior British Official on January 8th. Both Anguilla and St. Kitts had confirmed their understanding that efforts would be made in good faith to restore the friendship and harmony.

  On July 30th, elections were held for a 7 member council in Anguilla. Mr. George Thompson speaking in the House of Commons debate on July 25th, 1968, saw much advantage in elections being held so as to “ensure that those with whom we deal in Anguilla have the authority to speak as genuine representatives of majority opinion on the island.”

  Those elected were Mr. Emile Gumbs, Mr. Atlin Harrigan, Mr.

Kenneth Hazel, Mr. Collins Hodge, Mr. John Hodge, Mr. Wallace Rey and Mr. Ronald Webster. The St. Kitts Government issued a statement on August 8th, declaring the elections to have been illegal.

In response to an invitation from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Mr. Whitlock, Mr. Bradshaw and Mr. Webster visited London for talks from October 14th - 23rd. The delegation from St. Kitts consisted of: The Honourable Robert Bradshaw, the Honourable E. E Walwyn, Mr. Lee Moore and Mr. N. G. F. Taylor, the Eastern Caribbean Commissioner in London.

  The Anguillian delegation consisted of: Mr. Ronald Webster, Mr. G. C. Hudson Philips (a Barrister from Trinidad retained by the Anguillian council) and the Rev C Carty. The talks failed to secure agreement either on a lasting settlement or an extension of the interim settlement.

    In December 1968, Mr. Webster announced his intention of

 declaring Anguilla independent shortly after January 8th, 1969, the expiry date of the interim period. On December 30th, he wrote to the Commonwealth Office “re-affirming” Anguilla’ independence and making certain proposals for a constitutional arrangement to follow the ending of the interim period.

    The interim period finally ended with a message from Mr. Whitlock to Mr. Webster informing him that the British Government could not agree to Mr. Lee remaining in Anguilla after the end of the interim period. Mr. Lee accordingly left Anguilla on January 16th and took up residence in Antigua. Attached to the staff of the British Government.

    On January 8th, Mr. Webster declared Anguilla independent. Mr. Whitlock speaking in the House of Commons n February 5th, 1969, about the ending of the interim period said “Her Majesty’s Government donot regard Mr. Webster’s purported declaration of independence as having any effect.” Mr. Webster was quoted in the Daily Telegraph of January 11th, as saying, “We are not making a UDI, we are to establish an associated status direct with Britain.”  On February 6th, a referendum was held which overwhelmingly approved the declaration of independence and the constitution.”

   From February 3rd to 6th, the 5th Heads of Government

Conference was held in Port of Spain Trinidad. The situation in Anguilla was among topics discussed.

    On February 10th, it was announced that the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Mr. Whitlock, would shortly be visiting the Caribbean Associated States.

   On March 11th, Mr. Whitlock visited Anguilla with a proposal for the installation of a Commissioner. He received an enthusiastic response from a crowd whom he had addressed at the airport but was subsequently forced to leave by a group of armed men.

    The Secretary of State for foreign and Commonwealth Affairs,

spoke of British policy towards Anguilla in the House of Commons on March 18th, and included the statements, “ It is no part of our purpose that the Anguillians should live under an administration they do not want” and “I have laid down one necessary condition of it ( a settlement) namely that it should be acceptable to the people of Anguilla. On March 19th, Mr. Lee arrived in Anguilla accompanied by an invasion force of British Paratroopers and members of the Metropolitan Police on the assumption that law and order had been broken.

 
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