Close this window to return to the main menu

Previous Chapter     Next Chapter

When the British Government imposed the "Sandys' formula", which agreed to all the opposition demands, the opposition Labour Party in Britain firmly condemned this decision. Harold Wilson, the leader of the Labour Party and Leader of the Opposition, in reply to a letter from the secretary of the Progressive Youth Organisation (PYO) in December 1963, wrote that his party's representatives had "strongly criticised the Colonial Secretary's decision to impose proportional representation in British Guiana.".

The spokesman for colonial affairs in the British Labour Party, Anthony Greenwood, wrote to Dr. Jagan on 16 April 1964 stating that the party had condemned Sandys' decision to impose proportional representation as the new electoral system in Guyana. He added that the Labour Party would voice its strong opposition to the British imposition when the issue would come up for debate in the British Parliament in June 1964.

When the debate in the House of Commons took place in June, Wilson stated that the imposition of proportional representation was "a fiddled constitutional arrangement". He suggested that a Commonwealth team should be appointed to review the decision of the British government.

Another leading Labour Party member, Arthur Bottomley, described the Sandys' formula as "riddled with disadvantages" and that such an imposition was unknown in any Commonwealth country. He added that those who supported Sandys did so "not because they think this will reduce racialism but because they think they will put someone in power whom they prefer to Dr. Jagan."

The Labour Party won the general election in Britain in October 1964 and Wilson became the new Prime Minister. Greenwood was appointed the new Secretary of State for the Colonies. There was hope in PPP circles in Guyana that the new Labour Party government would reverse the decision of the previous Conservative Party government since Wilson himself and Greenwood had firmly objected to the Sandys' imposition.

The American government was well aware of this new situation, and urgent talks on Guyana were held between the British and American governments. During the last week in October 1964, the US Secretary of State Dean Rusk and British Foreign Secretary Patrick Gordon Walker met in Washington. Rusk convinced Walker that the United States would oppose the establishment of an independent state led by Dr. Jagan since the Americans were convinced he would set up a "Castro-type" regime. As a result, the Labour Party government, in an act of betrayal of its own principles, agreed with the American Government that the Sandys' formula should not be changed; that there should be no early independence for Guyana; and elections under proportional representation should take place on 7 December.

As a result of these developments, Dr. Jagan met with Greenwood in London during the last week of October 1964. He requested that the elections should be postponed and that a Commonwealth mission should be sent to Guyana to help work out a political solution. He reminded Greenwood that only a few months earlier, Harold Wilson, as Leader of the Opposition, had suggested that a Commonwealth mission should review the Sandys' formula.

Dr. Jagan also asked for financial help from the British Government to help expand the police and security forces and for the correction of the existing racial imbalance.

During his meeting with Greenwood, Dr. Jagan gave him copies of two secret police reports on the PNC terrorist organisation, and the Senate statement by Janet Jagan before her resignation as Minister of Home Affairs. The police reports implicated more than 50 persons associated with the PNC and the TUC and an American citizen as being involved in planning and carrying out the 1963 disturbances. Dr. Jagan explained that these secret police reports were not made available to the November 1963 constitutional conference by the Governor, Sir Richard Luyt. He pointed out that Luyt had deliberately withheld these reports from him (as Premier) and from the Minister of Home Affairs, and explained that if these reports were brought to the attention of the constitutional conference the outcome might have been different.

But Greenwood brushed aside the security reports saying that their validity was questionable, and stated that the elections would be held as planned.

Shortly after, Dr. Jagan met with Prime Minister Wilson, who also stuck to the decision, but offered to send a Commonwealth team to observe the elections. To this, Dr. Jagan reminded Wilson that what was needed was not a Commonwealth observation team but for the "fiddled" constitutional arrangements to be corrected.

It was clear that the Labour Party government had been influenced by the American Government and was not willing to change the decision made by the previous administration. The PPP was therefore forced, under protest, to contest the 1964 election.