For All Nails #169: Movement of Jah People
9 January 1975
"So y'all're tellin' me that Ah'm goin' into this
thing tryin' to steal the pot with a pair of fours?"
There were times, Michael Murphy thought, when the
Governor-General's language actually clarified things.
"Militarily, yes, Governor-General. Our land forces
are stronger now but still not prepared for sustained
action overseas. If we fight the Royal Navy on the seas
we'll both lose a lot of ships. We can achieve air
superiority, but we aren't equipped to use it effectively
to destroy an enemy army."
"An' they've called our bluff with the banking thing."
"I'm afraid so, Governor-General. With the immediate line
of credit from Taiwan they can wait out any immediate
financial crisis. They've mortgaged their financial
independence to Taiwan now, just as they've mortgaged
their military independence to Germany. I'm frankly not
sure what they think they're doing."
The Special Envoy to Mexico made a rare foray into the
conversation from Mexico city, via the outspeaker. "El
Popo told me about a game the young men play with their
lokes in Arizona state, called _el rodar_. Two lokes come
straight at each other at top speed, and the last driver
to turn aside wins."
There was a brief silence, as Monaghan appeared to have
finished. Skinner broke it. "And yo' _meanin'_ would be,
"The winner is the one who can convince the other he's
crazier. If we play that game with Gold, we lose."
Silence again -- Monaghan's logic seemed compelling. But
this was the opening Murphy needed.
"Governor-General, I _think_ we might be able to improve
your pair of fours to two pair or maybe even three of a
kind. It _is_ a somewhat crazy idea..."
When he had finished, Skinner had only one question. "What
about Newfoundland, Michael? Can we try the same thing there?"
"I don't think so, Governor-General, their whole national
identity is based on their not being part of us. There is
a sizable pacifist and isolationist sentiment there, but
any involvement with it on our part would be sure to backfire."
"Way-ell, this looks like the best shot we have left. Let's
go with it. Gov'nor?"
Monaghan on the outspeaker again. "I concur, Governor-General."
"Then we'll dam' well see what Sir Geoffrey thinks of _this_."
13 January 1975
Robinson Alleyne was an unusually inexpressive man. His
temperament suited the position of Speaker of the House
of Assembly, the neutral presiding officer of the lower
house of the island's Parliament. He had heard that bets
were taken as to how many passers-by he would acknowledge
on his daily walk to the pink stone buildings, through the
yard of St. Michael's Church, past the fishing boats in the
Careeenage, by the statue of Nelson in New Orleans Square --
seldom would he nod to more than three or four. Distance
was necessary, distance and dignity, he thought. The House
needed his distance from the fray and his personal dignity,
on this day of all days. He quieted the House with one quick
rap of his gavel.
"Order! The House of Assembly of the Britannic Sovereignty of
Barbados is called to order. We will begin with the invocation.
"Oh Lord, God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, who in the
earthly form of your son Our Lord Jesus Christ brought us
salvation, whose Holy Spirit in the name of Jah was with our
ancestors in Africa, in exile, in slavery, and in freedom, we
humbly ask thy blessing on our royal sovereign Henry, and on
these leaders of our people assembled here. Grant them, we
pray, a measure of the wisdom of Our Lord God, a measure of
the compassion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and a measure of the
indomitable spirit of Our Lord Jah. All this we pray, Amen."
Robertsian claptrap, Alleyne thought, though his face betrayed
nothing. He'd forgotten that it was the turn of St. Philip's
Church to provide a chaplain today. Well, it was just as well.
They could use the blessings of any God, under any name, to help
them with the coming decision. He again rapped the gavel once.
"Amen, thank you, Father. The Clerk will now read the resolution
The practiced voice rang out. "Resolved, that the Britannic
Sovereignty of Barbados offer all requested assistance to the United
Empire in the current situation, and place the armed forces and
the militia of the Britannic Sovereignty under the direct command of
those officers lawfully placed over them by the United Empire,
for the duration of the emergency." A few scattered "Here, here"'s
from the Empire Party benches, which Alleyne silenced with a slight
movement of his head.
"The motion has been read. The Prime Minister." This was it. Only
Clyde Worrell himself, a few of his top ministers, and Alleyne knew
what was coming next. Worrell stood from his front bench.
"Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the resolution." Consternation,
as expected. How long to let it run its course? Dignity was important,
but the House sometimes needed to let off steam. Ten seconds, fifteen.
All right, time to move on.
"Order, order!" _Two_ raps of the gavel, and the thirty men in the
hall began to settle. "The Prime Minister."
"Thank you, Mr. Speaker." A bit of mumbling, but they were ready to
hear. "Mr. Speaker, the Government itself introduced this resolution,
in conjunction with the Opposition, on Thursday last. Since that time
there have been further developments, after which the Government have
determined that this resolution is no longer in the best interests of
Shouts of "What developments?" and one or two shouts of "Treason", again
from the Empire Party section. Alleyne gave _one_ rap of the gavel.
"Order! The Prime Minister."
"Mr. Speaker, I and the honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs have
been in intense consultation with a number of foreign governments through
the week-end. These have included our brother island sovereignties in the
Empire, as well as the Confederation of North America. As I said, the
conclusion of the Government, after these consultations, is that the
proposed resolution does _not_ serve the best interests of Barbados."
"Order! The honourable member from St. James Parish." This was Desmond
Weekes, the Leader of the Opposition. He seemed to have gotten a grip
on himself, though just barely.
"Mr. Speaker, I confess myself _amazed_ at my honourable friend's statement.
Our basic loyalty to our King, to our Empire, and to our mother nation
_demands_ that we stand with it in a time of crisis! To suggest otherwise
is _treasonous_!" This brought forth howls from the Labour benches in
defense of their leader. Time to put a stop to this right now.
"Order! I hope I will not need to remind the honourable member from
St. James of the standards and protocols of this House." That was the
first step in an escalating series of potential reprimands, culminating
in his actually addressing the offending member by name. You couldn't
have members calling one another traitors and maintain the dignity of
a deliberative body. Weekes again collected himself.
"I stand reprimanded, Mr. Speaker, and I beg the privilege of withdrawing
the _final word_ of my previous remark. I do, however, say that to refuse
our last measure of support for the Empire at this juncture is _disloyal_."
"The Prime Minister."
"Mr. Speaker, I yield to none in my loyalty to our royal sovereign in his
role as the living symbol of the common bonds among the English-speaking
peoples. I acknowledge him as my sovereign, just as he is so acknowledged
by the Confederation of North America. But, Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister
of the United Kingdom of Great Britain is _not_ my sovereign, and it is
_his_ Government that asks our help in this dangerous adventure. Indeed,
Mr. Speaker, I say 'asks our help' out of mere politeness, for we have
not been _asked_, Mr. Speaker, we have been _ordered_ to place our bases
and our military at the disposal of the Empire, which means, Mr. Speaker,
at the disposal of the Prime Minister of Great Britain."
"The member from St. James."
"Mr. Speaker, the Empire is acting as part of a great coalition of
nations to find and punish the arch-criminal Vincent Mercator, and see
that his accomplices in Mexico and New Granada are also found and punished.
We are called to be part of a mighty mission, might I say a _holy_ mission,
in the service of Britannia and of the world."
"The Prime Minister."
"Mr. Speaker, the legitimate governments of Mexico and of New Granada are
themselves acting to find and punish the criminals of Bali. The extent
to which other nations may be involved in that investigation and that
search should be determined by _negotiation_, Mr. Speaker, not by a war
between nations armed with atomic explosives. Mr. Speaker, I beg you to
imagine yourself for a moment as the Prime Minister of New Granada, a man
prepared to act ruthlessly in what he believes to be his nation's cause.
Enemies of your nation threaten to assemble a force to invade you on various
islands they control, near to you and quite distant from them. You have an
unknown but small number of atomic explosives. I ask you, Mr. Speaker,
_what is your first move_?"
Alleyne, of course, was not expected to respond to this rhetorical question.
The sudden stillness in the House chamber suggested that few or no others
were prepared to do so. Finally the Leader of the Opposition rose.
"Mr. Speaker, I point out that member states of the United Empire depend
upon each other for mutual defence. The very ruthless leader, Mr. Speaker,
of whom the Prime Minister speaks marshalls his armies and fleets only a
few miles from our shores. Does the honourable Prime Minister suggest, Mr.
Speaker, that our own limited armed forces can defend our island any more
than the people of Trinidad and Tobago were able to defend theirs?"
"The Prime Minister."
"Mr. Speaker, our consultations with the Confederation of North America
have led to binding assurances of mutual support, including the assistance
of North American forces currently resident on our island in supervising the
orderly withdrawal of Empire forces should that withdrawal be requested by
this House. The correlation of forces in the Caribbean has changed
considerably, Mr. Speaker, since the events of last summer. I little think,
Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister of New Granada has any interest in
threatening a nearby island if that island were not providing a base for
his enemies. Even if he should, Mr. Speaker, a word from one of the two
major powers _not_ now aligned against him should set him straight."
Worrell continued. "Mr. Speaker, the government of Jamaica _have_ determined
upon the course of military dissociation from the Empire's current plans,
and acceptance of assistance from North America. The governments of Antigua
and Grenada are as we speak debating a similar course, and our decision will
weigh heavily with them. I understand the gravity of what I propose, Mr.
Speaker, and I fully expect strong arguments to be raised in debate by my
honourable friend from St. James and by other members of his party. But
this debate _must_ occur, Mr. Speaker, and it must occur today. The war,
and I do mean war, planned by the United Kingdom upon New Granada is a mistake.
We are in no way required, Mr. Speaker, to participate in that mistake or to
aid our British brothers in making it. My hope, Mr. Speaker, is that our
action today will lead to true, open negotiations between the powers concerned,
so that justice may be carried out without bloodshed between nations."
Now several members of the Opposition were rising to speak. It would be
a long debate, Alleyne thought. Labour held an 18-11 majority, so the
conclusion _should_ be predictable, but the debate had to be held and the
issues thoroughly discussed. And his own opinion? That was his alone,
forever hidden behind his impassive face .
 I call attention to the fact that there are no footnotes in this