With Dame Pearlette Louisy about to make room at Government House for “person or persons” unknown at this time; and given the times we’re living in, how surprising is it that not even the season of good cheer can dissuade our political pots from calling their kettle opposites black? For our elected leaders, its politics as usual, and the hell with Christmas! On the other hand, there’s history. And on this particular occasion it couldn’t be more sad, reminding us yet again that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Consider now, dear reader, the way the late governor general Sir Allen Lewis was given his eviction papers, as recorded in the pages of Lapses & Infelicities:
“By letter dated 3 October 1979, the governor general had informed the prime minister of his intention to quit office by 21 February 1980 ‘with the Queen’s approval.’ By Sir Allen’s own account, Her Majesty gave her royal okay toward the end of December 1979 but the prime minister—in view of his leadership squabbles with George Odlum—begged Sir Allen to defer announcement of his retirement. He agreed and copied to the prime minister and to the Queen’s private secretary in London his letter to that effect. As he explained in a Government House press release: ‘This withdrawal cannot take effect except with the consent of the Queen, who acts only on the advice of the prime minister.’
“According to Sir Allen, just hours before he issued his press bulletin the prime minister informed him that he would not advise Her Majesty to consent to the withdrawal. ‘Consequently,’ the release went on, ‘Sir Allen proceeds on pre-retirement leave as of 22 February 1980.’ The governor general expressed his regret that in the circumstances it was not possible to make an announcement of his pending retirement. The Government House communiqué was dated 21 February 1980. The prime minister’s immediate reaction was even more shocking. He flatly denied ever asking the governor general to continue in office. He said it was Sir Allen who offered to withdraw his resignation if the prime minister thought his departure would have negative impact on the on-going leadership dispute.
By Louisy’s account, he promised to discuss the matter with his Cabinet colleagues. Before he could do so, however, he received from the governor general a letter informing him that the prime minister had already agreed the governor general should withdraw his resignation.
“According to a press release from the prime minister’s office, the matter was discussed and decision confirmed that Sir Allen’s resignation would take effect on 21 February 1980. Boswell Williams, a former secretary of the ruling Labour Party, replaced Lewis as governor general—endorsed by the entire Cabinet. The prime minister also revealed that eight days before Sir Allen’s departure from office the George Odlum faction of his government sought by letter to reverse the Cabinet decision to let Lewis go. A consequent Cabinet vote had deadlocked: five for keeping Sir Allen, five for evicting him. Duly informed, Her Majesty’s response was quick: the later vote could have no effect on the earlier Cabinet decision to cut Lewis loose. The initial Cabinet decision would stand.
“ ‘By sending Her Majesty’s private secretary a copy of his letter to me,’ Louisy said, ‘Sir Allen might’ve had his wish, except for the fact that Her Majesty had already approved the appointment of Mr. Williams.’ In any event the prime minister’s position had always been that ‘no factional grouping will be permitted to review decisions of Cabinet outside Cabinet.’ As expected, the government came under sustained attack by the Odlum faction via their leader’s newspaper, the Crusader. The new governor general, Mr. Boswell Williams, was sworn in on the morning of 22 February 1980. Only the Allen Louisy faction of the government attended.”
Yes, another nasty episode of the continuing war between Saint Lucians and Saint Lucians!