The vast majority of Vincentians alive today remember the events leading up to the Grand Beach Accord that paved the way for general elections in 2001, ending an historic reign as government for the New Democratic Party (N.D.P.) which began in 1984.
Whether or not you are a person intrigued by politics, or you are an independent observer you have to give Jack his jacket and admit that the NDP’s seventeen year run as a governing party ushered in a new era in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
Newly sworn in Prime Minister James Mitchell in 1984
It was during this time in our history that the transition occurred which brought our country in step with the majority of other developing nations in the region and around the globe.
Led by its founder, James Mitchell, the NDP took the office of government a mere five years after we achieved political independence from Britain. In fact, it was the St Vincent Labour Party (SVLP) led by incumbent Prime Minister Robert Milton Cato, that the New Democratic Party overwhelmingly deprived of another term in office.
From Prime Minister to Opposition Leader: Milton Cato makes his way to Parliament after his defeat in the 1984 elections
It stands to reason, therefore, that the then Milton Cato government must have been deficient in the provision of certain key political and economic indicators for the citizens of SVG. James Mitchell, back then a relatively youthful man with a vision for national development, courageously took the oath of Prime Minister for this young multi-island state.
The NDP’s tenure will certainly be remembered for the many widespread capital projects and infrastructural changes which they pioneered. Every nook and cranny on the mainland and in the Grenadines benefited from one of the many hundreds of rural concrete roads which they cut and/or paved.
In 1984 the NDP won 9 of the 13 parliamentary seats up for grabs. When the electorate went back to the polls in 1989, Vincentians gave the James Mitchell government an overall grade of A+. All fifteen constituencies went to the New Democratic Party. The NDP had split two constituencies on the grounds that the geographical area was too wide for the respective individual representatives to adequately represent in parliament and for timely executed projects.
Take a look at the candidates who contested the July 25, 1984, general elections on the NDP ticket, as they appeared back in 1984.
Images courtesy the Vincentian newspaper at SVG National Archives