Secret intelligence files, from 1966, released only after the thirty-year rule, reveal that nothing escaped the watchful eye of British colonial government representatives in the Bahamas. Spying, may be too strong a word to use, in this instance, because collecting information was part and parcel of their jobs, in the colonies. Britain could not maintain an effective grasp on political affairs throughout its vast empire, across the world, if it had no idea of what socio-political changes were happening, under their very noses. Appointed British Governors and their Colonial Secretaries, spent a great deal of their time, gathering information on those seen as important or suspect personalities. All political movements and machinations were reported back to England, as part of confidential despatches, from Government House.
The rise of the predominantly negro membered (PLP) Progressive Liberal Party, from its humble beginnings in 1953 to its 1967 political win, took colonial administrators by surprise. Frankly speaking, outspoken negro and mulattoes, in the Bahamas, were an unknown, untested and fearful quantity to whites. With the rise of negro militancy in the United States and Africa, against imperialist, racist ideology, as well as the rise of communist ideology from Russia as a resistance methodology against American white capitalist supremacy, there was every concern that Bahamians, particularly negro Bahamians, would take a more militant, if not violent route, to political equality.
“The militant plans were abandoned at the last minute because the PLP Parliamentary Leader managed to dissuade the extremist party Executive members from giving their support, and because planned countermeasures became known.
… Among other things, the plans called for a physical attack on the Premier and to Cabinet ministers.”￼￼
DISSATISFACTION WITHIN THE RANK AND FILE OF THE UNITED BAHAMIAN PARTY (UBP)
By 1966, intelligence reports revealed that support for the UBP was eroding within its very own rank and file membership. What was stopping, another white minority political party from making a successful break from the UBP, was that there was no one charismatic enough, articulate enough or wealthy enough to go up against the likes of Sir Stafford Sands or Sir Roland Symonette.
The apparent success of the Progressive Liberal Party was the impetus for fledgling others, in the Bahamas, to create their own political parties and activist groups. Each, of course, seeking social or political change, under the umbrella of their own unique brand.
“The strength of the movement among UBP supporters for the formation of a new party is doubtful. No leader of sufficient stature has come forward and the movement, as pointed out in the report, appears to result from dissatisfaction among party supporters that they have not been kept sufficiently informed and consulted.”
“I have urged on him [ Premier Roland Symonette] the need to get Sir Stafford Sands to appreciate that he must pay some price for his unusual (and very lucrative) privilege and spare his colleagues and the Governor as much embarrassment as he can;￼ I have urged also that he [Premier Roland Symonette] get Sands to take his colleagues more into his confidence in the preliminary stages of his planning and not too much into Cabinet with papers that are quickly read and for which agreement is there and then demanded.”￼￼
“There are many mutterings among the UBP supporters; and it is plain enough that if a talented opposition leader were to appear on the scene, he could quickly win and ascendancy over the party in power, the members of which no little of politics save any Bahamian sense that has less and less meeting today. But no doubt their usual capacity for self preservation will assert it self and the boys will close the ranks if things get tough.”￼
1966 – CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY MADE UP OF ‘REASONABLY PROSPEROUS WHITE BAHAMIANS WHO FELT BAHAMIANS WERE QUALIFIED FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE OVER EXPATRIATES’
Sir Stafford Sands, Minister of Finance, Head of the Bahamas Development Board, and the man considered to be the father of the modern tourism business model for the Bahamas, was indeed a force to be reckoned with. According to secret intelligence files, in 1966, Stafford Sands made his own decisions, created his own economic policies and only after, gave a report to Parliament. If you disagreed with him, then too bad for you. Few could stand up to his aggressive nature or his persuasive political arguments.
By 1966, Sir Stafford Sands’s teflon political exterior was wearing thin. Within his own United Bahamian Party and support base, disaffected persons, decided to start a new political party to combat what they saw as the growing evil of gambling casinos in the country.
The Christian Democratic Party was started by disaffected UBPs. Proponents for the new political party, according to intelligence reports were “reasonably prosperous, young or middle-aged, self-employed white Bahamians. They profess to think that there are Bahamians qualified and available for jobs in the Public Service and in commerce and industry that are being given to expatriates.”
One reason why more was not heard from Christian Democratic Party was according to intelligence reports, at one meeting, a man named William Bertram Aranha was called to speak. Mr. Aranha has been convicted of sentenced to life in prison, having spent 1949 to 1957 for shooting to death a man who had been dating Aranha’s sister.
1966 – NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY
The National Democratic Party attempted to mimic the Progressive Liberal Party as a predominantly negro party rival to the governing United Bahamian Party.
In 1965, three members of the Progressive Liberal Party members Paul Adderley, Orville Turnquest and Spurgeon Bethel broke from the PLP over a disagreements in their Party’s political tactics in regard to the Black Tuesday events.
Paul Adderley and Orville Turnquest formed the National Democratic Party.
British intelligence reports predicted the NDP would have a short future as two appointed staff members were in fact not even Bahamians. One was Trinidadian and the other Jamaican.
The ABC – AFRO BAHAMIAN CLUB and The BYPA – BAHAMAS YOUTH FOR POSITIVE ACTION
Yearning to discover and indeed honour one’s identity, as an individual, is often complicated odyssey. Consider the journey for a nation. More so, consider it for young people, attempting to honour a history they knew very little about, save for the origin of the colour of their skin.
“On 22 May 66, the ABC held its first meeting which was attended by about 50 persons. The declared object of the ABC is to preserve and promote Afro-Bahamian culture.”
Youth organisations in 1966 were seeking change. Positive change. The Bahamas of 1966, indeed the world of the negro in 1966, could be likened to an upside down question mark. The very questions had yet to be properly formed. Real answers would be decades, in not centuries, away.
British colonial administrators, in the Bahamas, called just about everything remotely negro-centred as promoting overt RACIALISM, while they practiced blatant and direct racialist policies.
“The ABC was formed under the sponsorship of the PLP, and will be used by the Party as part of the racial bias which it has been developing since the 1962 General Election.”
FEARS OVER THE NATION OF ISLAM GAINING A FOOTHOLD IN THE BAHAMAS AS 30 BAHAMIANS ARE IDENTIFIED AS MEMBERS
JPLP ( Junior Progressive Liberal Party)
BYFPA ( BAHAMAS YOUTH FOR POSITIVE ACTION)
CCKG – CITIZENS COMMITTEE FOR KNOWLEDGE OF GOVERNMENT
“The CCKG, which is recently formed organisation comprised of about 30 dissident United Bahamian Party (UBP) supporters, has planned to circulate a petition denouncing the government policy on gambling. If the petition is widely supported, and if after presentation to government, the policy is￼ not changed, the CCKG will consider organising a large scale demonstration in NASSAU.”
STUDENT DEMONSTRATIONS AT GOVERNMENT HIGH SCHOOL OVER “WHITE MASTERS” NOT ALLOWING BOY STUDENTS TO WEAR AFRICAN CLOTHING