Categorized | Opinions

The Real Story

By Claude Gerald

I listened to three contemporary pillars of society on ZJB, Annie Dyer Howe, Kenneth Cassell and Sir Howard Fergus, attempt to put John A Osborne’s legacy in a positive light. These social luminaries, whose private thoughts are probably at variance to their public utterances,  served to distort historical facts in so doing and unwittingly threw light on the makings of this John Osborne-made-society and on why John Osborne lasted as long as he did.

Plain hypocrisy enshrined in the belly of the electorate has been the Achilles heel in electioneering and choice of representatives to lead our affairs over many a year. Societal leaders in all walks are all guilty of our decline in empowering a John Osborne’s ageless marathon.
A society whose leaders pronounce on what is politically correct and socially palatable is one which will remain unenlightened on the path towards wholesome socio-economic development.  Commentators must be as ethical as their desired images. They owe their society a debt built on undiluted truth, which is not based on selective amnesia. Truth ought not to be a convenient tool to polish termite ridden political woodwork.

Our history is too recent to be manipulated by opportunists bent on preserving the status quo, either wilfully or cowardly. The few who are ardent students of John Osborne’s political machinations over the years will robustly counter any such opportunism and balance the record books indelibly.

John Osborne has been able to maintain control of the masses longer than anyone else but why attribute to him things that were clearly initiated by other people.

Historians, more than other people recognize the danger of playing the fool with the facts.

To quote Dr. Eric Williams: “Historians neither make nor guide history. Their work in this is so small it is almost negligible but if they do not learn something from history their activities will be only cultural decoration or a pleasant past time equally useless in these troubled times.”

While it is preferred that in deference to the grieving relatives there should be a deliberate withholding of negative comments, the ZJB commentators should recognize that attempts to refurbish John Osborne’s image or legacy by obfuscating the truth, will undoubtedly oblige complete exposure of the many overwhelmingly irrefutable facts.

I will catalogue the state of affairs when J. A. Osborne came to power in 1978. He found the following pillars of economic prosperity in place:
•    The American University of the Caribbean had been already functioning for some months with students attending classes in the old Glendon Hospital building in Plymouth.

All formalities for licensing the institution had already been completed and executed.

They included agreement between the government and the proprietors of the school for the use of the lands at Amersham for the construction of a campus. The proprietors of the school had been required to deposit and had deposited $250000 in an escrow account at the Chase Manhattan Bank from which they could only withdraw funds for the construction of the campus. The agreement provided that in the event that construction did not take place within a given period the money would be forfeited to the government.

Most importantly the previous government had obtained from WHO the listing which was required in order that students of the school could qualify to practice medicine in the United States. This listing was granted to the government of Montserrat for a school located in Montserrat.

Having prematurely advertised and recruited students in the United States the proprietors had no option but to proceed aggressively with the project.

Any contribution by John Osborne was purely cosmetic and this even more significant because during the negotiations for the school John Osborne vehemently opposed and criticised the project, in the mother of all political battles in 1978.

•    All agreements for the Air Studios project had been completed and the construction of the Studio was already in progress. Top international stars subsequently recorded here.

•    The Montserrat Philatelic Bureau had already been in operation for some months to manufacture stamps. The operation is still in existence.

•    There were a functioning tannery project and a vibrant leather craft operation, all using local resources. Wade’s at Cudjoe Head remains an off-shoot of that original project.

•    There was an Industrial Estate complete with infrastructure and over one hundred and fifty thousand square feet of factory space.

•    The W& W Electronics business had already been in operation for many months and other industrial projects were in their infancy. They concentrated on exports creating much employment.

•    Construction of the Bill Carrol condominiums on Richmond Hill above Sturge Park was at its peak. It proved a plus to the island’s development.

•    Funding for the construction of the road from Trants to St John’s had been negotiated and the actual construction was already well on the way nearing completion. It was Jim Bass who wrote the economic justification for this project.

•    Both the Technical College and the Junior Secondary School had already been in operation for over three years, with a strong Common Entrance programme.

•    Montserrat was further ahead on the path to developing offshore financial Services than was Tortola and the Cayman Islands. It flourished fleetingly and suffered from mismanagement and greed.

•    There was a thriving agricultural environment supported by a well organized Development and Marketing Corporation (DFMC) that lasted up until the volcano. It facilitated local distribution and export coordination.

•    A thriving leather craft, handicraft, pottery and weaving industry that created employment that filtered into the national economy.

•    Osborne took office several months after his predecessor had persuaded the British government to make a gift of the Norman Trilander to Montserrat. It was the offshore medical school and projected increases in passenger traffic from the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance which to some extent galvanized the island’s case.  This gift of an aircraft came under fire from Osborne led PLM in the election of 1978 as one that is unsafe and easy to crash.

It must be remembered that in 1979 Mrs Thatcher as the incoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom removed restrictions on the outflow of money from England. As a consequence Montserratians living in England were able to freely send out money for the construction of their own homes and for the assistance of their relatives. That development was to a major degree responsible for any construction boom during John Osborne’s reign.

Significantly also the world economy was emerging from the depression of the mid 70’s due to the first oil crisis. Market Economies almost everywhere were registering growth in important indicators of their macro-economy and Montserrat with its solid foundation laid prior, jumped off and up with memorable effect. Graced then with a cadre of disciplined technocrats possessing admirable work ethic, executing the plans and programmes John’s administration met, was not an arduous task.

If the truth be told John Osborne contributed little, and more, nothing to the financial boom which happened during his time office.

In fact he systematically destroyed it, leading to his ousting from office in 1991. Callousness and arbitrariness ordered the day with gay abandon.

Many of you may wish to burst blood vessels when faced with mere facts.  But these remain solid and eagle eyed watchers of truth will counter the spin doctors, whose task is to cloud and distort so as to satisfy a gullible audience’s desire for a needle of joy in the hay stack of indifference and negligence. Such it is reasoned will bolster long held belief systems, akin to the patented Columbus’s theory of discovery our ancestral past.

History I assure you in this case will not depend on the subjectivity of the commentator with a desire to present a preset agenda, but will rely on impregnable facts that will, given time, illumine the collective psyche and set us all free finally.

Principles will transcend opportunistic advantage, personal and political peeve.

And Truth will then be King happily in its own Kingdom. In time!

Claude Gerald is a social commentator living on Montserrat, West Indies. Ceegee15@hotmail.com

.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

By Claude Gerald

I listened to three contemporary pillars of society on ZJB, Annie Dyer Howe, Kenneth Cassell and Sir Howard Fergus, attempt to put John A Osborne’s legacy in a positive light. These social luminaries, whose private thoughts are probably at variance to their public utterances,  served to distort historical facts in so doing and unwittingly threw light on the makings of this John Osborne-made-society and on why John Osborne lasted as long as he did.

Plain hypocrisy enshrined in the belly of the electorate has been the Achilles heel in electioneering and choice of representatives to lead our affairs over many a year. Societal leaders in all walks are all guilty of our decline in empowering a John Osborne’s ageless marathon.
A society whose leaders pronounce on what is politically correct and socially palatable is one which will remain unenlightened on the path towards wholesome socio-economic development.  Commentators must be as ethical as their desired images. They owe their society a debt built on undiluted truth, which is not based on selective amnesia. Truth ought not to be a convenient tool to polish termite ridden political woodwork.

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Our history is too recent to be manipulated by opportunists bent on preserving the status quo, either wilfully or cowardly. The few who are ardent students of John Osborne’s political machinations over the years will robustly counter any such opportunism and balance the record books indelibly.

John Osborne has been able to maintain control of the masses longer than anyone else but why attribute to him things that were clearly initiated by other people.

Historians, more than other people recognize the danger of playing the fool with the facts.

To quote Dr. Eric Williams: “Historians neither make nor guide history. Their work in this is so small it is almost negligible but if they do not learn something from history their activities will be only cultural decoration or a pleasant past time equally useless in these troubled times.”

While it is preferred that in deference to the grieving relatives there should be a deliberate withholding of negative comments, the ZJB commentators should recognize that attempts to refurbish John Osborne’s image or legacy by obfuscating the truth, will undoubtedly oblige complete exposure of the many overwhelmingly irrefutable facts.

I will catalogue the state of affairs when J. A. Osborne came to power in 1978. He found the following pillars of economic prosperity in place:
•    The American University of the Caribbean had been already functioning for some months with students attending classes in the old Glendon Hospital building in Plymouth.

All formalities for licensing the institution had already been completed and executed.

They included agreement between the government and the proprietors of the school for the use of the lands at Amersham for the construction of a campus. The proprietors of the school had been required to deposit and had deposited $250000 in an escrow account at the Chase Manhattan Bank from which they could only withdraw funds for the construction of the campus. The agreement provided that in the event that construction did not take place within a given period the money would be forfeited to the government.

Most importantly the previous government had obtained from WHO the listing which was required in order that students of the school could qualify to practice medicine in the United States. This listing was granted to the government of Montserrat for a school located in Montserrat.

Having prematurely advertised and recruited students in the United States the proprietors had no option but to proceed aggressively with the project.

Any contribution by John Osborne was purely cosmetic and this even more significant because during the negotiations for the school John Osborne vehemently opposed and criticised the project, in the mother of all political battles in 1978.

•    All agreements for the Air Studios project had been completed and the construction of the Studio was already in progress. Top international stars subsequently recorded here.

•    The Montserrat Philatelic Bureau had already been in operation for some months to manufacture stamps. The operation is still in existence.

•    There were a functioning tannery project and a vibrant leather craft operation, all using local resources. Wade’s at Cudjoe Head remains an off-shoot of that original project.

•    There was an Industrial Estate complete with infrastructure and over one hundred and fifty thousand square feet of factory space.

•    The W& W Electronics business had already been in operation for many months and other industrial projects were in their infancy. They concentrated on exports creating much employment.

•    Construction of the Bill Carrol condominiums on Richmond Hill above Sturge Park was at its peak. It proved a plus to the island’s development.

•    Funding for the construction of the road from Trants to St John’s had been negotiated and the actual construction was already well on the way nearing completion. It was Jim Bass who wrote the economic justification for this project.

•    Both the Technical College and the Junior Secondary School had already been in operation for over three years, with a strong Common Entrance programme.

•    Montserrat was further ahead on the path to developing offshore financial Services than was Tortola and the Cayman Islands. It flourished fleetingly and suffered from mismanagement and greed.

•    There was a thriving agricultural environment supported by a well organized Development and Marketing Corporation (DFMC) that lasted up until the volcano. It facilitated local distribution and export coordination.

•    A thriving leather craft, handicraft, pottery and weaving industry that created employment that filtered into the national economy.

•    Osborne took office several months after his predecessor had persuaded the British government to make a gift of the Norman Trilander to Montserrat. It was the offshore medical school and projected increases in passenger traffic from the Matrimonial Causes Ordinance which to some extent galvanized the island’s case.  This gift of an aircraft came under fire from Osborne led PLM in the election of 1978 as one that is unsafe and easy to crash.

It must be remembered that in 1979 Mrs Thatcher as the incoming Prime Minister of the United Kingdom removed restrictions on the outflow of money from England. As a consequence Montserratians living in England were able to freely send out money for the construction of their own homes and for the assistance of their relatives. That development was to a major degree responsible for any construction boom during John Osborne’s reign.

Significantly also the world economy was emerging from the depression of the mid 70’s due to the first oil crisis. Market Economies almost everywhere were registering growth in important indicators of their macro-economy and Montserrat with its solid foundation laid prior, jumped off and up with memorable effect. Graced then with a cadre of disciplined technocrats possessing admirable work ethic, executing the plans and programmes John’s administration met, was not an arduous task.

If the truth be told John Osborne contributed little, and more, nothing to the financial boom which happened during his time office.

In fact he systematically destroyed it, leading to his ousting from office in 1991. Callousness and arbitrariness ordered the day with gay abandon.

Many of you may wish to burst blood vessels when faced with mere facts.  But these remain solid and eagle eyed watchers of truth will counter the spin doctors, whose task is to cloud and distort so as to satisfy a gullible audience’s desire for a needle of joy in the hay stack of indifference and negligence. Such it is reasoned will bolster long held belief systems, akin to the patented Columbus’s theory of discovery our ancestral past.

History I assure you in this case will not depend on the subjectivity of the commentator with a desire to present a preset agenda, but will rely on impregnable facts that will, given time, illumine the collective psyche and set us all free finally.

Principles will transcend opportunistic advantage, personal and political peeve.

And Truth will then be King happily in its own Kingdom. In time!

Claude Gerald is a social commentator living on Montserrat, West Indies. Ceegee15@hotmail.com

.