THE PPP REBUTTAL OF THE BRITISH ACCUSATIONS
Close this window to return to the main menu
Previous Chapter Next Chapter
The pressure of the United States on Great Britain played a significant role in the decision to remove the PPP Government from office. The United States, heavily influenced by the anti-communism doctrine of Senator Joseph McCarthy, felt that the PPP Government's programme and policies were communist, and was convinced that Guyana could form a base for Soviet expansionism in the Americas. The United States was of the opinion that a "communist" Guyana could threaten the supply of bauxite, then a strategic military resource, from Guyana and Suriname to the United States. At that period these two countries supplied roughly 66 percent of American bauxite imports. A Soviet base in Guyana, according to the anti-communist ideologues in the USA, could also threaten the Panama Canal.
Thus, the PPP Government posed a threat to American interests and it had to be removed. The British Government willingly compiled by attacking the PPP's programme and legislative actions as communist, even though these were proposed before the 1953 elections, and fully supported by an overwhelming majority of the electorate.
In a number of statements, the PPP responded to the accusations in the British White Paper which detailed the reasons for the suspension of the constitution, the removal of the Government and the military occupation of the country:
(1) On the accusation that the Party encouraged strikes and attempted to introduce legislation to remove established trade unions: The PPP pointed to the large majority of seats it won in the elections, and particularly to the 11 it won with overwhelming majorities in the areas with sugar estates. This itself was a reflection that the people in those areas wanted a trade union which was supportive of the PPP Government. The PPP stated that the membership figures of the two sugar unions, the MPCA and the GIWU, were not a true reflection of their support. Workers who supported the GIWU did not generally enrol themselves as members because members of that union were usually intimidated by the management of the sugar estates.
(2) On the Labour Relations Bill which authorised a poll to settle a dispute between trade unions to be the representative of workers, and which the British claimed the PPP intended to use to control trade unions: The PPP defended the Bill by explaining that the union winning recognition had to secure at least 65 percent of the votes, instead of only 51 percent in the United States under the US National Labor Relations Act.
(3) On attempting to seize control of the public service: The PPP explained that most of the senior positions in the public service were occupied by British expatriates. During the election campaign the Party argued that qualified Guyanese should be given priority for senior public service positions. The expatriates in the public service openly opposed the PPP before the elections, and after the elections, they continued to control the administration of the Ministries, and two of them were even placed in the Cabinet by the colonial authorities. The PPP stated that by demanding that the Ministers should have the right to appoint some public servants, it was attempting to blend the good qualities of the British civil service system with the party civil service system of the USA.
(4) On undermining loyalty of the Police Force by planning to set up a People=s Police: The PPP explained that it wanted a neutral police to maintain law and order. Since the Police Force was not under an elected Minister but under the Chief Secretary, an expatriate senior civil servant, it was not possible to consider the setting up of a People=s Police.
(5) On instigating racial hatred, violence and arson: The PPP challenged the colonial authorities to place its leadership and members before the courts. The Party also showed that there was not a single case of arson in Georgetown, and pointed to the fact that the colonial authorities were even surprised that there was no violence during the 1953 election campaign. Also the PPP could not be accused of fomenting racial hatred, since even the colonial authorities declared that the election campaign was free of any racialism.
(6) On acting to repeal the Undesirable Publications Ordinance: The PPP referred to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which stated: "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, to seek, and to receive information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".
(7) On lifting the ban on West Indian political and trade union leaders: The Party defended this by pointing to the Article in freedom of movement in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
(8) On the charge that PPP leaders were associated with international communist organisations: The Party said that this was a pointless accusation since people from Britain regularly visited socialist countries. With regards to the PPP=s participation at meetings of the World Peace Council, the Party explained that many non-communists from all parts of the world belonged to the Council.
(9) On the accusation that it was a communist party: The PPP denied that it was a communist party and described itself as Aa broad alliance of all progressive forces that are struggling for the freedom and independence of British Guiana.@ It added that it did question the ideologies of the members, so long as they supported the Party=s programme.
(10) On introducing "political bias" in the education system: The Party stated that it had no apologies for wanting to reorient the education system away from the European influences and concepts. This desire by Guyanese existed long before the PPP won the elections in 1953, and the plan to reorient the system was included in the Party's election manifesto.
(11) On appointing ordinary people to boards and committees: The PPP stated that by objecting to such appointments, the colonial authorities exposed their class bias. It argued that the colonial authorities opposed these appointments because in the past only non-working class people filled these positions. The colonial authorities could not expect the PPP Government to appoint people who opposed it to boards and committees to advise its elected members.
(12) On the establishment of a youth organization associated with the PPP: This accusation the PPP felt was ludicrous since many political parties all over the world did the same.