Echoes of A New Tomorrow: Life after Revolution in the Commonwealth of Britain

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to say we had a weeklong writing bug isn't half of it :p
Remembering when I naïvely thought that we’d have vol 1 written up by Christmas.

If history tells us anything, it is not to predict things will be over by Christmas…
 
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For fans of the recent trend of bumper updates, I have good news: the next update, which will encompass everything from CIA electoral manipulation to a hardly-known scandal involving Leyland buses (my shameless attempt to capture the Pipian market), is currently looking like it will be about 7,500 words long. The alternative good news, for those of you who are growing weary of these indulgent novellas, is that this is only half as long as it would have been had I been able to include everything I'd originally wanted to. Let it not be said that I do not know restraint.

With any luck this will be out before the end of the week. After which I plan to do one final foreign policy chapter, and then that really is the world set up for the end of volume 1. It will then be domestic shenanigans all the way to the end.
 
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The Anxiety of Autonomy: Trouble in Guyana, 1965–66

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ECHOES%20HEADER.jpg


EYE OF THE STORM
A HISTORY OF THE COLD WAR IN THE BEVAN YEARS

DENIS HEALEY 1976




Part Three
The Anxiety of Autonomy: Trouble in Guyana, 1965–66


Before the mid-1960s, the Commonwealth of Guyana had not frequently encroached upon the British national consciousness. It is hard to image that the average British adult would have been able to locate the country on a map, much less that they would have had an appreciation for the significance of its political battles. Yet in the middle of a tumultuous decade, the South American fraternal commonwealth was at the centre of an international geopolitical confrontation whose gravity far outweighed the size of the country itself. At stake was the continued presence of British influence in the western hemisphere, and in a broader sense the practical utility of the ‘fraternal’ system of British post-colonial relations. Against this stood the considerable weight of the United States, spooked into escalation in their own back yard after the calamitous progression of withdrawal from Cuba, and in the background was the reality of already deteriorating relations between the Americans and the Syndicalists over the numerous crises in South East Asia. The Guyanese emergency represents the expansion of this phase of the Cold War into two new and uncertain frontiers: political manipulation and international espionage. The result would be the almost total collapse of relations between the transatlantic powers, and the effects would colour political discourse in Britain and America for years to come.


The Road to Autonomy



Cheddi Jagan was born in 1918, the son of Indian immigrants who had been settled in Guyana as indentured servants. As a young man he earned a degree in dentistry in Georgetown, before moving to Britain to study in London and Sheffield. It was while living in Sheffield that he met Jane Rosen, a young nurse who was active in the Socialist Youth. The two soon became a couple, and Rosen’s socialist politics would go on to have a profound influence on the young Jagan, who had grown up in poverty, and who had a natural inclination towards support for the oppressed. In 1943, Jagan and Rosen were married. Later that year, they returned to Guyana so that Jagan, now a doctor of dentistry, could begin his life in practice.

While in England, Jagan had received a second education, this being in the politics of syndicalism. Specifically, as a ‘colonial’ in Britain, Jagan had become acquainted with the growing movement for national autonomy, then in its infancy but spurred on massively by the self-government of India in 1934. Autonomy emerged as a powerful idea among a network of Africans, Indians and other former colonial subjects who found themselves in Britain during the 1930s and ‘40s, most commonly for study, and many were keen to put their ideas into practice when they returned home from Britain. In 1945, a group of Ghanaian autonomists under the leadership of Kwame Nkrumah declared Ghana to be an autonomous commonwealth, catching off-guard the government in Westminster, then busy dragging their heels over the ‘post-colonial question’. Mosley era internationalism rested upon the assumption that maintaining close ties between Britain and its ill-defined former colonies would be mutually beneficial for both parties; Britain retained its readymade market for exports, while the former empire reaped the benefits of economic association with Britain – modern industrial goods and a free supply of credit. In reality, this was an unsustainable policy, and anyone observing the situation critically could have concluded for themselves just how mutual the benefits of this arrangement truly were. Nowhere were these critical observers more greatly concentrated than in Africa, and to a marginally lesser extent the West Indies, where national consciousness was not quite so far progressed. The Ghanaian declaration spooked Westminster out of its complacency and convinced the International Bureau, then under the stewardship of Oliver Baldwin, that a more pro-active policy would be required to meet the situation head on. To this end, the government in London moved to neutralise the new autonomist movement by directing its focus within the existing mechanisms of colonial administration. This was done in the name of international fraternity.



1954 JAGAN POLICE.jpg

Cheddi Jagan, 1954.


A similar kind of organisational assistance had been promised by the Communist government in its manifesto of 1929, but in the end only India benefited from this sort of disinterested internationalism before political disturbances in Britain swept the CPGB out of power and into irrelevance under Mosley. It would be another decade before Mosley made a move on the matter of ‘post-imperial’ reform. In 1946, British authorities in Guyana assisted in the formation of the Political Action Committee, an organisation whose aim was to prepare the way for Guyanese autonomy according to syndicalist principles. The committee was composed of notable Guyanese, almost all British-educated, who had demonstrated some degree of prominence within public life in the colony, and who also showed a sympathy for socialist thought. Cheddi Jagan was an exemplar of this type, and soon came to hold a leading position within the committee. Jane Jagan was also appointed to the committee, the majority of her work consisting of the establishment of two chapters of Socialist Youth in Georgetown. She and Cheddi were also heavily involved in preliminary discussions concerning the setting up of a modern health service in Guyana, drafting a curriculum for the training of dental practitioners and working to expand the coverage of medical provision throughout the country.

This characterised the majority of the work undertaken by the PAC: planning for autonomy, without it being specified when the powers and responsibilities under discussion would be transferred finally into Guyanese hands. Identical committees sprung up, under various names and guises, in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago (the two Caribbean states where Britain retained control over government) and also in those parts of Africa not yet working towards more concrete independence. Where they had the means to do so, oppositional groups within the colonies were quick to attack the committees as stalling devices: convenient organs to manage the break-up of an empire that would have otherwise collapsed without so much as a glance back in Britain’s direction. Whether this is the case cannot be judged for certain, even if it is certain that Mosley himself was no anti-imperialist. Nevertheless, those who approached the committees in good faith were correct when they asserted that never before had the British extended positions of such influence to colonial subjects, and in many cases there was a sense that, however flawed or venal, ‘fraternalism’ represented a significant step forward for British–colonial relations. Actions taken by the committees accelerated the development of emerging nations in Africa and the West Indies, and went some way to ensuring that autonomy would not be something wholly mandated by Westminster, but – at least in part – planned for and worked towards ‘from within’.



1954 GUYANA PAC.jpg

Guyana Political Action Committee, c.1950.


In 1948, the Guyanese PAC gained a new member. Linden Forbes Burnham was an Afro-Guyanese lawyer who had recently returned from London, where he had received his degree from the London School of Economics. The LSE in the 1940s was a hotspot of exactly the sort of fraternal autonomism that had taken root in the imagination of the nascent ‘post-colonial’ political class. Much of this was the doing of Professor Harold Laski, who in 1948 became the leader of the Popular Front and joined Mosley’s cabinet as education minister. Laski was an exceedingly idealistic socialist of the inter-war school, who never lost faith in the power of international co-operation. He was acutely concerned by the ills of imperialism, and equally convinced of the potential of communism to solve these ills. This led him, somewhat counterintuitively, to a dogged support for the Soviet Union, which he regarded until his early death in 1954 as Britain’s most natural ally, and the most powerful ‘anti-imperialist’ nation in the world. This ardent pro-Sovietism was counterintuitive because Laski as a socialism was for the most part an armchair revolutionary, whose stated enthusiasm for revolutionary violence ran deeper than his embrace of Marxism, which was almost entirely academic. Prior to the Revolution, he had been a committed Fabian, and only after 1929 did he come to embrace fully the political potential of revolutionary upheaval. His economic stance, however, remained wooly, and he saw socialism chiefly in terms of public ownership. In this way, he was a perfect foil to Mosley, whose economic beliefs were highly similar to Laski’s, and if one were to follow the example of each man’s deeds rater than his words, the results would no doubt be identical. This perhaps explains the career of Forbes Burnham (just as Cheddi Jagan might be called the exception who proves the rule).


1945 LASKI.jpg

Harold Laski.
Laski’s most notable pupil was undoubtedly Jawarhalal Nehru, first president of the All-Indian Commonwealth (1934–40). OTL he also taught a staggering 67 out of the 393 Labour MPs elected in 1945, either at university, in classes organised by the Workers’ Educational Association or else during the war on courses for officers. Although an odd an often maligned character, his influence cannot be overstated.


Burnham took from LSE only a surface-level understanding of Marxist thought, and he had no trouble accommodating himself to the Mosleyite developmentalist ethic. The greatest lesson that he drew from his time in London was that of autonomy itself, and he became a great believer in the project of Guyanese self-determination. Both of these facts ensured that he quickly endeared himself to the government in Westminster, and most of all to Mosley himself, who was greatly impressed by Burnham’s commanding style. The British premier decided that Burnham was a man in whose hands Guyana might be safely entrusted, and he was liberal in his support for the young Guyanese leader, who as a result was able to amass considerable security in his position on the committee.

An illustrative early example of his standing came in 1950, when Burnham became embroiled in a dispute with Jagan over a mundane question of economic planning. Burnham knew that influence within the PAC would translate into influence over Guyanese politics once autonomy was implemented, and in the economics dispute he spied a chance to damage Jagan’s position. He accused his rival of being a communist, and wasted no time in having Jagan and his allies voted off the committee. When news of Burnham’s strong-arming reached Westminster, international secretary Philip Noel-Baker sought to have Jagan and his associates reinstated on grounds of ethnic pluralism. The ethnic composition of the Guyanese population was finely balanced between groups of Indian, African and indigenous descent, and Noel-Baker – the last of Mosley’s truly internationalist foreign ministers – was keenly aware that the success of an autonomous Guyana would rest upon the ability of various groups to share power. By removing the Jagans, Burnham had effectively stripped the Indo-Guyanese population of representation on the PAC. Mosley was not so sensitive to the potential for racial conflict in the colonies, failing to grasp the subtleties of the relationships between the communities and believing that economic development was its own form of security against unrest. He therefore had no qualms about overruling the foreign minister, dismissing Noel-Baker’s protests with the assertion that ‘now is not the time to be intervening in the affairs of Blacks and Indians’. Thus Burnham’s gambit faced no opposition, and when Westminster passed a resolution granting the PAC legislative powers the following year, Burnham was easily elected as its chairman.



1966 JAGAN PATHE.jpg

Burnham (left) and Jagan, prior to their split in 1950.


Although he had been removed from any sort of proximity to power, Cheddi Jagan’s influence in Guyanese public life was harder to suppress. In 1953, the British authorities mandated that the first elections should be held in Guyana to fill seats on the legislative council. This was to be the first step towards full autonomy, which would come no later than five years after the legislative elections (i.e. in early 1958). The Jagans and their allies organised themselves into a new political party, the Progressive Front, but the elections were called with only four weeks’ notice, and the new opposition movement had little chance to define itself before polling day. Unsurprisingly, following a contest that was hurriedly organised and facilitated by the barest bones of an electoral apparatus, Burnham’s faction was awarded a large majority by the voting population. In this way the 1953 election was an inauspicious start to Guyana’s life as an autonomous democracy, marred by low turnout and allegations of corruption, only passingly monitored by a British administration whose own conception of electoral propriety was, in truth, little better. Jagan was quick to accuse Burnham, now elected premier at the head of a transition government, of having rigged the election in his favour – an accusation which, in hindsight, is virtually undeniable. Burnham responded in a manner that was becoming characteristic: removing Jagan as a threat to his own authority, this time by having him placed under house arrest. The rest of the Progressive Front’s new leadership soon found themselves similarly detained, and Burnham’s term as transitional premier thus passed without opposition. Protest from Whitehall was unforthcoming.


1954 JANE JAGAN.jpg

Jane Jagan leaves court, 1953.


The leadership of the Progressive Front remained in detention until 1959, when Burnham’s government released a number of political prisoners as a ‘gesture of goodwill’ to mark the first anniversary of full autonomy. Of course, by this stage any danger of the Jagans threatening Burnham’s position had been taken care of; a constitution for a self-determinant Guyana had been passed the previous year, and elections to autonomous Guyana’s first House of Assembly produced a predictable landslide for the GPC that July. Any hope of British influence pushing the South American state towards stable democracy seemed woefully misplaced, although equally one could say that Burnham succeeded in realising the vision of ‘Mosleyite post-colonialism’: with its strong focus on centralised political power and its push for economic development, Guyana was no aberration, but in fact a model post-colony. The GPC’s dominance of politics in Georgetown was only mildly exaggerated as a mirror of Party of Action dominance in Westminster, and free from the memory of any long-held ‘democratic tradition’, such as that which was the early Commonwealth’s inheritance from the United Kingdom, Burnham was able to achieve his goals through schemes that Mosley could only dream of putting into practice.

On this point, it is not coincidental that Burnham’s rise came just at the moment that Mosley’s power in Britain was beginning to be seriously questioned, and indeed challenged. One wonders if Burnham looked across the Atlantic with any sense of trepidation as Mosley came unstuck at the end of the 1950s, seeing bad omens perhaps in Cheddi Jagan’s full-fledged revival of the Progressive Front in 1960. Vowing to contest the upcoming legislative elections in 1962, the Progressives discovered to their relief that years of harassment had done little to quell the strength of their popular support, and Burnham could have been in no doubt about the fact that, so long as Jagan retained his national position, he would be allowed no idle re-run of 1958 at the next contest.



1962 GEORGETOWN FIRE.jpg

Georgetown, 1962, devastated by a series of arson attacks in the lead-up to the election.


In the meantime, Burnham’s Westminster benefactors were facing grave challenges of their own. Mosley fell from power in January 1961, hurriedly installing the ill-fated John Strachey as his successor before retiring, in an ironic twist of fortune, to the Bermudas, nominally under Canadian administration. With Mosley gone, and with the Strachey government barely able to keep itself afloat for much of its nine-month existence, Burnham grasped that, on the international stage, he was alone. Should the reformists take power in Britain, as seemed likely, then there could be no question of his continued cosy relations with Whitehall, or at least not without some drastic change of tack. This, as he saw it, could come in one of two flavours: either he could genuflect to the new men in Whitehall, paying lip service to their desires for a more robust sense of international fraternity and goodwill among the former colonies, or he could double down in following the path he had begun to tread a decade prior, aiming to nip dissent in the bud before it could be allowed to germinate. Unsure of the benefits of subscribing to the new co-operative order, he chose the latter path. In March 1961, he had his justice minister arraign Jane Jagan on charges of espionage, accusing her of being an agent of the British secret services. After a sham trial lasting only a couple of hours, she was convicted and sentenced to a long term in prison. Arrests of other leading figures in the Progressive Front followed, and by the summer the party’s political apparatus had been devastated. Rioting followed, particularly among the Indo-Guyanese population which was in the main supportive of the PF. At the end of August, fires raged through Georgetown and the GPC government were swift to lay the blame at Cheddi Jagan’s door. In September he was once again placed under house arrest, this time charged with sedition. The brief Progressive revival had been quashed, and when the elections came around in March 1962 there was no question of anything other than another landslide win for Burnham’s clique.

Burnham’s decision to commit to a programme of unbridled repression had been a gamble, flying in the face of the shifting tide in London and leaving his prospects of international support vastly diminished. Nevertheless, at least in the immediate term, the gamble paid off. Inevitably, the incoming reformist government in Westminster was far too preoccupied by domestic matters to give much thought to the unravelling situation in the fraternal commonwealths, and by the time new international secretary Fenner Brockway could give any attention to the matter the 1962 elections had already come and gone. Without a significant pushback from London, Burnham’s position was secure for another four years. But the cracks were beginning to show.



The Bevanite Response

Foreign minister Fenner Brockway was a veteran campaigner for peace and co-operation in international affairs. Only a month shy of his 73rd birthday when Nye Bevan appointed him to direct the International Bureau, Brockway had previously retired in 1956 having endured steady harassment as co-leader, with George Orwell, of the idealistic opposition group the Continuing Socialist Front. In his later years, he became vigorously interested in the crisis in Kenya, where Mosley’s preference for strongman leaders in the post-colonial world had incubated a situation that bordered on civil war, and Brockway’s efforts to settle the central question of land in favour of the guerrilla fighters in the Kenyan Land and Freedom Army offered an early indication of the strength of his idealism in his eighth decade. Burnham would have been given reason to shift uncomfortably in his seat, perhaps, when Brockway’s crusading ministry facilitated the removal from power of Kenyan president Jomo Kenyatta in 1963, in favour of a power-sharing government composed along multi-ethnic lines.


1959 BROCKWAY.jpg

Fenner Brockway.


At the same time, Brockway’s ambitions in Africa gave the Guyanese leader some degree of cover. Having already announced his intention to retire finally at the election in 1963, Brockway devoted the majority of his energy to the formation of the African Syndicate (Afrosyn), an international association of emergent African nations newly exercising autonomy free from European interference. Afrosyn promised to be the grand culmination of Brockway’s life of service to the cause of global peace, and few would begrudge him his receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1963. The vision it outlined was one of mutual co-operation between Europe and Africa, but with parity of standing between the Africans and the Europeans. It was a democratising shift away from the one-way developmentalism of the Mosley years, and sat comfortably as the product of a foreign ministry whose preference, increasingly, was for moral rather than political leadership. Brockway’s doctrine was a simple refutation of the truism, uncritically accepted by many in government, that Britain’s role in the world was nothing without hard power – a hard power which, increasingly, it found difficult to exercise. In a return to something of the inter-war climate that had produced Harold Laski, Indian autonomy and a host of socialist revolutions, Britain’s watchwords in its diplomacy during the short 1960s would be solidarity, mutualism and a firm sense of moral self-certainty. As we have seen, the application of this vision, particularly after Brockway’s retirement, was not so straightforward. But as a statement of intent at the dawn of a fractious decade, it provided a renewed energy to those around the world working towards self-determination free from the tyranny of elites and the servitude of free markets.

Forbes Burnham was by all accounts as enthused about free markets as he was enthused about the prospects of free democracy. Any quarrel between him and Whitehall would not have been ideological in nature; Burnham believed in little concrete, except perhaps ‘himself’. Nevertheless, the clash in style was marked, and before stepping down in May 1963 Brockway could hardly leave the Guyanese situation without some measure of attention. Unwilling to stomach Burnham’s despotism, but equally constrained in options he would consider to oppose, or even depose, the Guyanese premier, Brockway set his mind only to the most immediate of Georgetown’s problems. After brief talks with Burnham in early 1963, Brockway was able to secure the release of Jane Jagan and the other political prisoners. Burnham also assented to letting Eurosyn observers monitor the elections in 1966. In return, Brockway promised £5 million in aid money, and also indicated that the British government would be willing to enter into a trade deal that would favour Guyanese exports. There was of course no guarantee that Burnham would keep to his word in consenting to genuinely free elections, nor was there any guarantee that elections would result in his removal from power. But for Brockway, a few shipments of bauxite was a small price to pay for the return of something like democracy to Georgetown.



1963 BAUXITE PLANT.jpg

A bauxite plant in Linden, Guyana.
Guyana produced 3 million tons of bauxite per year in the 1960s, although in terms of export revenue trade it placed a distant second to gold, whose contribution to the national economy was over five times greater. Nevertheless, its trade remained an important contributor to the country's treasury.


In October 1964, Burnham returned to London, this time for a more formal visit during which he met Bevan himself, and other members of his government. For the British premier, this was his first chance to judge for himself the qualities of a man who had proven an unanticipated thorn in his government’s side. This was also the first occasion on which Burnham would meet Bob Boothby, foreign minister after 1963 and a man who now held considerable sway over his future fortunes as premier. In neither case did relations get off to a flying start. Of chief annoyance to the British government was an appearance Burnham had made on the CBC programme Nationwide at the start of his visit to Britain. While on television, Burnham responded to a question about the United States’ foreign policy objectives in South America by praising the Alliance for Peace, an economic association of South American nations founded by then-Vice President Kennedy in 1957. By the early 1960s, Alliance member nations experienced annual growth rates of up to 5.5 per-cent, and collectively between 1957–67 the United States spent $2 billion per year on aid to South America. Despite these figures, the influx of American money had little effect combating poverty in South America; the dollars were thrown at bolstering the continent’s flagging exports, rarely if ever reaching the poorest strata of society. Estimates suggest that as little as two per-cent of aid-related prosperity reached the poorest 20 per-cent of the population. Nevertheless, Washington’s billions retained their lustre in Burnham’s eyes, and he was not afraid to remind the British government that he was not entirely without options should they decide to desert him.

When Bevan met the Guyanese premier the day after his appearance on the CBC, he probed him further on his ambitions for Guyana, his political beliefs, and of course his views towards Washington. Burnham replied to the effect that his only concern was the welfare of his country, and that he would work with any nations who could help him to realise his programme of development. No doubt this was a thinly-veiled swipe at the £5 million Britain had sent Guyana’s way the previous year, which sat rather unimpressively next to the figures being handed out by the Americans. Keeping Guyana on side, Burnham seemed to be saying, was not something that the British should take for granted.



1964 BURNHAM.gif

Burnham on Nationwide, 1964.


Bevan was not overly impressed by Burnham when the two met. His long-time second, Dick Crossman, also present at the first meeting between the two premiers, noted in his diary that the Welshman found Burnham to be ‘an opportunist and a demagogue’, quipping that he was ‘Mosley reincarnate’. Crossman’s own impression was more balanced, commenting that he seemed ‘an intelligent, self-possessed man’ whose concern for Guyanese development was ‘readily apparent’, but he conceded that ‘it would be hard to say that his belief in socialism extends beyond his own self-interest.’ Bob Boothby formed a similar impression, although this great survivor of Commonwealth politics surely cared less what Burnham’s own ideological motivations may have been. Of chief concern to him was his evident hankering after an American connection. The foreign minister recognised that Britain could not hope to compete with the Americans if it came to a ‘bidding war’ for influence in Georgetown, the British interest in the western hemisphere being minimal even after the Cuban fiasco. He advised Bevan that Burnham turning away from London was a matter of ‘when, not if’, and put it to the premier that the Commonwealth needed to decide how much it valued its Guyanese commitments.

The general mood after Burnham’s visit was thus one of sobriety so far as concerned Britain’s extant commitments in the western hemisphere. Bevan and his government saw no immediate reason to believe that Burnham was a threat; for all of his violent, anti-democratic tendencies, the harsh reality was that this did not concern Britain on anything other than a moral level. Nevertheless, if Britain wished to keep hold of Guyana as a reliable ally in the Americas, some attention would need to be paid towards Georgetown. Fenner Brockway, called upon for advice by Bevan as someone who had prior dealings with the Guyanese premier, suggested that the optimal outcome would be to coax Burnham towards adopting methods of multi-ethnic pluralism, which would offer more a favourable climate for the development of social conditions in Guyana. This, he offered, could be achieved by committing to a significant aid package, conditional upon ‘good behaviour’ by the government in Georgetown. Boothby countered that this would only push Guyana into American hands, from which aid was readily dispensed without any threat of reproach, and proposed an ingenious, if underhanded, alternative.



1980s CAIRNCROSS.jpg

John Cairncross, during his retirement in France.
An exceptionally intelligent man of humble origins, Cairncross joined the Communist Party while at university in the 1930s while studying French and German. Although he would have preferred, by his own admission, a career in academia, owing to his background in linguistics he was recruited as an intelligence officer after volunteering to fight in Spain during the Anti-Fascist Wars, working with particular note in the field of cryptography. He was appointed Director of the Bureau of Foreign Intelligence in 1963, remaining in post for ten years.


Fundamentally, Boothby believed that the most likely method of keeping Guyana in the British sphere was to ensure that Burnham be replaced as premier by Cheddi Jagan, who was known to be much more sympathetic to the Bevan government. The surest way to see Jagan in power, he argued, was to ensure that Burnham had to uphold his commitment to free elections in 1966. It was a strategy that would require some waiting, but it was almost guaranteed to succeed: Burnham had held power in some form for over a decade, and he had frequently resorted to violence to secure his position. His popularity was low, and he lacked the support of much of the country beyond the Afro-Guyanese population. In a fair fight at the polls, he would stand little chance against the genuinely popular Jagan. To this extent, Britain already had assurances from the Guyanese leader that he would allow a free contest, but the Westminster government lacked any means of enforcing this commitment. Boothby thus proposed that another package of aid money be sent to Guyana, with the delivery providing pretext for the establishment of a greater Foreign Bureau (FORIN) presence in Georgetown. This would allow the British government to monitor the Guyanese opposition directly, as well as offering the possibility of intervening to support them against Burnham and the People’s Congress should the situation once again turn violent.

Bevan was not a man naturally predisposed towards this sort of diplomacy, but in this case he assented to Boothby’s plan and gave express instruction that the purpose of the British mission should be the protection of the opposition. FORIN thus set about expanding its regional presence at the start of 1965. Prior to this, the bureau had run its threadbare Latin American operations, such as they were, out of a station in Port of Spain, Trinidad. So as to oversee the situation on the ground in Guyana, Foreign Bureau director John Cairncross opened a new station in Georgetown. Cairncross also expanded regional operations with the opening of a secondary station in Jamaica, significant as offering an invaluable node connecting the syndicalist world to the Cuban Red Brigades, whose base of support on the south-east of the island was only 150 miles across the water. Somewhat reluctantly, the Bevan government thus amped up its commitment to the western hemisphere, signalling its intent to not sit idly as other powers vied for influence in the post-colonial world.



Manoeuvres in Washington

By January 1965, the United States’ Latin American policy had borne unforeseen developments. What had started as a stunning victory in Cuba for the Kennedy administration was fast spiralling beyond anyone’s control, with the removal of Fidel Castro only leading to a tortuous multi-directional civil war. Kennedy’s response to such setbacks, typically, tended towards doubling down on his original position rather than considered reflection of alternatives. In this case, this undiminished commitment to fighting communist influence on the doorstep meant turning American eyes towards the syndicalist presence in and around the Caribbean. Eurosyn had already involved themselves in the Cuban mêlée, and now Washington regarded with suspicion the increasing noise coming out of Georgetown. Arthur Schlesinger described how Kennedy became preoccupied by the notion that Guyana threatened ‘a second Castro’, and identified how the country of barely 600 thousand people became the president’s chief ‘target of convenience’ in the war against communism: a target ‘which became attractive less for its desirability, than because it was there’.

By the subsequent admission of some of those who directed its manoeuvres at the time, at this point in the Cold War Washington had difficulty appreciating that different political traditions applied in different lands, and that ‘communism’ was not a monolithic, Soviet-led international movement. Nowhere was this more true than with respect to the west Europeans, whom the Kennedy administration tended to regard one of two ways: either as an irrelevance, or else as equal to the Soviet threat. Schlesinger admitted that the Kennedy administration ‘misunderstood the whole struggle’ in Guyana, reflecting later that ‘It was idle to suppose that communism in Latin America was no more than the expression of an indigenous desire for social reform.’ To his credit, he saw this even at the time, taking a more ‘relaxed’ stance with regard to Guyana and counselling the president to moderate his own stance towards the country, but his only reward was to end up isolated within the White House, and soon even he gave up his opposition. Kennedy was adamant: Guyana had to turn.



1965 KENNEDY SCHLESINGER.jpg

President Kennedy (right) with 'special policy advisor' Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Previously an integral member of Kennedy's 'kitchen cabinet', Schlesinger found himself isolated after his muted enthusiasm for escalation in Guyana.


After Forbes Burnham’s appearance on Nationwide, a belief began to take hold in Washington that there was friction developing between Burnham and the Bevan government. Kennedy was optimistic that American action could exploit a rift to their own advantage, and he soon let his imagination overtake him. In the new year of 1965 the president asked his National Security Council what might be done. His advisers suggested that finding a way to keep Burnham in power would likely prove by default to be to the benefit of the United States, but cautioned that the window for manoeuvre was small: free elections in 1966 would almost certainly produce a victory for the Progressive Front, at which point Georgetown and London were likely to be reconciled. The question was how to forestall such a victory. For answers, Kennedy turned to the CIA.


1965 DULLES.jpg

Allen W. Dulles, Director of the CIA.


On January 6 1965, Kennedy told his national security advisers that ‘we simply cannot afford to see another Castro-type regime established in this hemisphere’, concluding that ‘we should set as our objective an independent Guyana under some other leader.’ Two days later, he sent a memo to Director of Central Intelligence Allen W. Dulles, putting forward three questions that had to be answered before a ‘final decision’ could be taken on his administration’s policy towards the government in Georgetown. These questions were as follows:
  1. Can Burnham be counted upon to keep his commitment to free elections next year? If so, what is the likelihood that he wins? What are the alternatives to a Burnham government?
  2. Should Burnham win, could he be persuaded to cut ties with Britain?
  3. What are the possibilities and limitations of United States action in the situation?
Within a few weeks, the CIA weighed in with a series of analyses on the Guyanese situation. Burnham’s GPC, they commented, was ‘socialist-oriented’, but that Burnham himself was above all a ‘pragmatist’, whose chief concern was ‘Guyanese independence’. Despite this he was unpopular, above all with the Guyanese of Indian descent who made up half of the country’s population. All estimates seemed to indicate that he was not likely to win the election in 1966, and that the alternative was a victory for Cheddi Jagan’s Progressive Front, which in contrast to the GPC displayed ‘overtly communist tendencies’. Jagan would no doubt restore relations with Britain, having secured the intervention of the Bevan government in dealing with targeted harassment from Burnham’s allies. Burnham, on the other hand, had distrusted the British since Mosley’s departure, and was by all accounts concerned that Whitehall was plotting against him. He was willing to stand by Britain so long as they continued to provide an active role in aiding Guyana’s economic development, but he was apparently receptive to a realignment of Guyanese foreign policy. In particular, he seemed to desire Guyana’s entry into the Alliance for Progress, which – although stalling by this point – he believed promised a greater benefit to the national economy than membership of the British sphere. The CIA commented that the Cuban affair had demonstrated Britain as being only peripherally interested in maintaining its (already limited) influence in Latin American, and noted that the mood in Britain seemed to be turning against a global policy of developmentalism. While a Jagan government would, by all indications, bring Georgetown closer to London, it was up for debate how much energy London would expend in keeping up the relationship.


1966 JAGAN.jpg

Cheddi Jagan reads the foreign papers, 1965.


This memo was not, at first, shared with the State Department, which at that time was preoccupied in any case by the ever-worsening state of affairs in Indonesia – but Kennedy, always a restless mover in foreign affairs, wished to press ahead. On February 4, Kennedy asked State Secretary William Fulbright to sound out Britain’s position on Burnham when he next met with British ambassador Anthony Crosland. Fulbright slipped in a question about Burnham at the end of a conversation concerning the Indonesian confrontation, hoping perhaps to catch the British ambassador off guard. No stranger to increasing American interest in the question of ‘national independence’ since arriving in Washington in 1963, Crosland informed Fulbright that Britain’s only concern was that democracy be upheld in Guyana. So long as his government was satisfied that Burnham had allowed free elections as promised, he said, then they would work with whoever won at the polls in 1966. Fulbright relayed this answer back to Kennedy, who should have had little quarrel with the Commonwealth’s commitment to democratic self-determination for Guyana. The President concluded that Britain had estimated, like the CIA, that Jagan would defeat Burnham and form a pro-British government, hence Crosland’s response was a tacit admission that London did not expect to have to put up with Burnham for long. With this in mind, he returned to Director Dulles on February 8 with an order to assess the likely success for various programmes of covert action in Guyana. These actions were geared towards two possible outcomes: the first, to keep Forbes Burnham in power in spite of earlier projections that his government would not survive; the second, to remove Cheddi Jagan from power should the elections go as expected.

Dulles filed his proposals on March 15, outlining a package to shore up the GPC government that included political action and propaganda campaigns in Guyana, diplomatic overtures to engender Burnham’s alignment with Washington, and promises of future economic aid. To unseat Jagan, meanwhile, the CIA drew up a plan whose main gambit was an ironic borrowing from the syndicalist playbook, involving co-operation with international, anti-communist trade unions (chiefly, the AFL-CIO). Both plans were qualified by the admission that the ability of the United States to interfere directly with foreign elections was ‘untested’. In East Asia, the American policy of ‘biased indifference’ had allowed a great deal of election rigging and anti-democratic tampering (nowhere more evidently than South Vietnam), but never before had Washington proposed to make so blatant a move against another country’s political process. National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, by now brought into the loop as planning for intervention in Guyana escalated, cautioned that ‘the case for the proposed tactics to be used in Guyana is not so clear.’ In a memo to President Kennedy, he admitted that he thought it ‘unproven that the CIA knows how to manipulate an election in Guyana without a backfire’, and added that the window for manoeuvre was too slim to be sure of success – about half a year, once everything was in place. Fulbright was similarly wary, preferring to keep to the tack of economic diplomacy in South America, and Schlesinger too expressed nerves over the plan: ‘It seems quite decided that the odds are against Forbes Burnham, and I cannot help but fear that we are committing ourselves to another rash entanglement with the Europeans.’ But Kennedy was content to take the action out of their hands, following the old adage about prevention and cure by surmising that it was a safer bet to move in favour of Burnham now than it was to go against Jagan later.



The 1966 Elections

British Foreign Bureau operatives in the Caribbean were not ignorant of the increasing activity in Guyana. Reports from the British consulate in Georgetown, which since Cairncross’s expansion of Latin American operations the previous autumn had maintained communications backchannels with FORIN, kept London abreast of the political situation as the major parties prepared for the election the following March. A consulate memo dated May 12 noted the sophistication with which Burnham and the GPC were prosecuting their own election preparations, describing a multi-media campaign that ranged from pro-Burnham leaflets, buttons, badges and other paraphernalia, to radio broadcasts and advertising campaigns targeting the rural Indo-Guyanese populations who were generally less enthusiastic about the Afro-Guyanese leader. Initially, Boothby suspected that British aid money was being used to finance Burnham’s attempt to maintain power at the ballot box. He brought the matter up with Bevan at a meeting of the Executive Committee on May 18, who asked about the possibility of auditing GPC accounts. Boothby saw no reason why this would not be possible, although he cautioned that any direct approach to Burnham would doubtless break any surviving sense of trust between London and Georgetown. The matter would be most fruitfully approached, he suggested, as part of the election monitoring campaign already agreed to by the Guyanese leader. Bevan assented, and by the end of the month British auditors arrived in Guyana alongside electoral observers.

Boothby’s auditors worked closely with the Foreign Bureau, and were possibly FORIN operatives themselves. Their preliminary report was received in Whitehall in the middle of July, submitted to Boothby directly and shared also with John Cairncross. The information provided covered both the GPC and the Progressive Front, although it was the findings concerning the former that proved more revelatory. Although Boothby had been mistaken in his suspicions that Burnham was using the £5 million of British aid to finance his re-election campaign, he had been correct in suspecting that the GPC’s spending was irregular. A list of party donors revealed a group of supporters who had each given sums of up to $1,000 since April. This was in a country where in 1965 the GDP per capita barely exceeded $300, and the total sum was an order of magnitude greater than that available to the Progressive Front.



1966 GUYANA FLAG UN.jpg

Forbes Burnham, second left, underneath the flag of autonomous Guyana at a meeting of the League of Nations, 1965.


Subsequent investigation into the origins of the money uncovered a network of expatriate Guyanese with family ties to the Burnham cabinet, most alarmingly a psychiatrist from Barbados whose brother was Burnham’s personal aide. Some of the group, like the psychiatrist, lived in territories of the Windsor Monarchy, which seemed at first to point to a Canadian plot, albeit an unlikely one, to overturn British influence in a former Crown Colony. Since the normalisation of relations between Britain and the monarchy in 1944, with the formal renunciation of any claims to the British throne by King Albert, Britain and the old white dominions had maintained, by tacit mutual agreement, a policy of non-interference. While the Canadians upheld influence in some areas of the old empire, holding oil concerns in the Persian Gulf and, thanks to American intervention, a number of island territories in the western hemisphere, the monarchy had seldom clashed with the Commonwealth, except by proxy in association with America. To have uncovered a monarchist plot to reclaim Guyana in 1965 would have been nothing short of scandalous. Tony Greenwood, British ambassador in Ottawa, raised the matter discreetly with Canadian foreign minister Sidney Earle Smith in August. Smith assured the ambassador that his government had no interest in Guyana, and by Greenwood’s own account seemed quite surprised to have been engaged in conversation on the topic at all. Taking the donnish minister at his word, monarchist interference was therefore ruled out as a possibility.


1966 TONY GREENWOOD.jpg

Tony Greenwood, British ambassador to Canada.
The son of a prominent Labour Party figure from before the Revolution, Greenwood grew up in politics but experienced limited fortunes prior to Bevan's accession to the premiership. A left-wing reformist with an interest in the development of the former colonies, Bevan considered him as replacement for the retiring Fenner Brockway in 1963 before having to defer to the returning Boothby. He was instead rewarded for years of support for the Bevanite cause with the key posting to Ottawa, which he held until 1967.


Inevitably, attention then passed onto the Americans. In September, with only six months to go until polling day, the British government assembled its election monitoring team under the umbrella of the European Syndicate. The European observers arrived in Georgetown on September 9, charged among other duties with reviewing boundaries, overseeing voter registration and certifying the electoral rolls. The boundaries proved no problem; these had been set only in 1958, when Guyana received autonomy, and in the intervening seven years little had changed that would have merited a major upheaval so soon to the election. Voter registration proved to be another matter. When the rolls were checked in October, the monitoring group discovered that in Georgetown, a centre of support for the Progressive Front, registrars had failed to record a large number of voters, the overwhelming majority of these being Indo-Guyanese. More alarming, the list of overseas voters revealed discrepancies in the number of people registered. In New York, where the vast majority of emigrant Guyanese had settled since 1958, the expatriate population was about 12,000 (roughly 2,000 families). Perhaps two-thirds of these were Indo-Guyanese, who had taken advantage of recently relaxed American immigration laws concerning persons of Asian descent to escape the worst of the anti-Indian violence in the immediate aftermath of autonomy. Nevertheless, the list of registered voters in New York massively favoured the Afro-Guyanese population in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Registration in New York had been overseen by a group called the Guyanese Expatriate Committee, which produced a biweekly publication, the ‘Guyana Overseas News Letter’, whose editorial line strongly favoured Burnham’s GPC.

As with the GPC, the GEC in New York had spent large sums on the election (indeed, the money likely came from the same place) and the campaign of political activity undertaken by the expatriates in Brooklyn would have been familiar to those who had experienced the GPC gala in the spring. Prior to summer 1965, the GEC had been practically moribund, suffering from poor funding and confronted by the reality that advocacy of Black Guyanese issues was not a popular cause among the New York political elite. When Guyana became a hot topic in 1965, the GEC’s fortunes changed in an instant. Warnings printed in the Guyana Overseas News Letter about foreign influence in the upcoming election were picked up by more mainstream outlets in July and August, and by the end of summer the political class spoke openly of ‘a second Cuba’. Anti-communist leaders in New York’s Black community were encouraged to raise awareness of the importance of keeping Burnham in power, and rumours began to circulate that the Guyanese opposition was in league with the Cuban Red Brigades, both part of a grander conspiracy by the Eurosyndicalists aimed at taking control of Latin America from under America’s nose. Attempts by the Indo-Guyanese community to counter these allegations of fellow travelling were met with a muted response. Anthony Crosland’s attempts at protest were met with a similar coolness in Washington, where policymakers pleaded innocence, ignorance or both.



1965 crosland.jpg

Anthony Crosland, British ambassador to the United States.
The other of the 'Two Tonies' who together fulfilled Britain's ambassadorial duties in North America during the mid-60s, Crosland was a member of the Popular Front and had accrued two decades' experience in foreign affairs since leaving the army at the end of the Anti-Fascist Wars. Unusually, his appointment to the ambassadorship in Washington in 1963 was his first such role, although it would go on to start a long career in front-line politics.


By this point, even if the murky details remained obscured, America’s willingness to involve itself in Guyana was on full display. Secure in his position as Washington’s most favoured, Burnham himself became increasingly comfortable making both pro-American and anti-British gestures over the autumn. A GPC advertising campaign that ran towards the end of 1965, again paid for with foreign money, tarred Cheddi Jagan as ‘England’s candidate’, while 1966 began with a sensational news story about the discovery of a cache of weapons in a Progressive Front office building in New Amsterdam. When GPC supporters began violently confronting Indo-Guyanese in the city in the following weeks, Burnham turned a blind eye, letting his allies loose while keeping up his front of co-operation with the British in delivering free elections. The British, for their part, had run out of patience. Boothby began a foreign policy meeting on January 17 by raising the matter of Burnham’s ‘charade’. This was notable not only in itself, but for the fact that news from Georgetown had displaced news from Singapore – where British–Malaysian forces were then on the verge of defeating the Indonesian insurgency – as Whitehall’s top priority. Having been wary of Burnham all along, Boothby urged Bevan to consider seriously the prospect of supporting Jagan as a counterweight to the influence of the United States. His ambivalence towards Britain’s commitments in the western hemisphere had been hardened by his antipathy for American meddling into a firm determination to maintain good relations with Georgetown. As far as he was concerned, this meant leaving nothing to chance about Burnham’s departure come March.


1966 JAGANS.jpg

Cheddi and Jane Jagan 1965.


Bevan, characteristically, was less enthusiastic. Although there is a strong case to suggest that the relative success of the Cuban and Malaysian campaigns demonstrated the favourability of active engagement with the Americans over moralistic neutrality, Bevan was set in his ways and did not fall naturally on the side of the pragmatists so far as foreign policy was concerned. He was reliably dubious about the value of combatting the Americans by ‘stooping to their level’. After forty years of public service, he still carried with him the orthodoxies of his youth; namely, that the sort of popular front diplomacy that had characterised the 1930s remained valid, and that a modicum of idealism in foreign affairs was never ill-applied. Unfortunately, Bevan failed to remember the other side of this lesson (which he would have well known, but was perhaps unable to relate to the wider picture of world politics) that idealism alone was never enough: not in the 1930s, and not now. The astounding success which the Commonwealth experienced in its foreign policy during the 1930s was attributable not to the high-minded decision of top-ranking diplomats to work together to bring socialism to Europe, but by the hard graft of workers and agents on the ground, who conducted a long and often bloody fight against the reactionary forces which had brought Europe to collapse in 1914. This was a fight that required tact, forcefulness, ingenuity, adaptability – and, above all, a strong stomach. By 1966, this was a description far more fitting of Boothby than of Bevan himself.

The foreign minister conferred with Cairncross, who indicated that estimates showed Jagan’s cause to be far from lost. The GPC campaign was effective, but it had hardly penetrated the Indo-Guyanese population, who remained overwhelmingly in favour of the Progressive Front. CIA money could perhaps be counted on to ensure a high turnout among the Afro-Guyanese population, which by this point represented Burnham’s greatest hope of survival at the ballot box, but it did not appear to have had any effect in swaying others to his cause. Over a decade of frequently violent stewardship of Guyana had conspired to damn the GPC leader, who struggled to shake off his ‘strongman’ image – in fact embracing it when his position was threatened. The perception of Burnham as Mosley’s protégé never fully left, and somewhat ironically he was forever tainted by association with the pre-autonomy regime. Even if he had worked tirelessly to secure autonomy, there were those in opposition who claimed that he had been altogether too cosy in British company. No doubt Burnham himself was aware of this fact as he moved to position himself as a friend of Washington rather than a friend of Whitehall, banking on leveraging some of the New Frontiersmen’s ‘anti-imperialist’ cachet for himself. This too was Sukarno’s gamble in Indonesia, which would end only three months after the election in Guyana with his unceremonious deposition by a coalition of nationalist and pro-Chinese forces. But Guyana was not Indonesia, and America had, by their own estimation, a much happier relationship with South America than with South East Asia. There was nothing to say that Burnham would end up like Sukarno – only that clear lessons stood to be learned.



1966 BURNHAM.jpg

Forbes Burnham, receiving election updates.


By contrast to Burnham, Cheddi Jagan had genuine oppositional credentials. While the GPC had solidified their rule over autonomous Guyana, Jagan and his Progressive Front had been the chief targets of government repression. Almost the entire leadership of the Progressive Front had been subjected to house arrest for a significant portion of the 1950s, and Jane Jagan had spent two years in prison after being convicted on spurious charges of espionage in 1961. Whatever the British government may have preferred behind the scenes, to much of the Guyanese voting public the situation seemed perfectly clear: Cheddi Jagan, and not Forbes Burnham, was the candidate for change.

On February 3, the Guyanese legislature was dissolved and the election campaign officially commenced. Polling day was five weeks away, on March 10. In accordance with the Commonwealth system that Guyana had inherited, seats were apportioned by proportional representation, which meant that the contest was a straight fight between the GPC and the Progressive Front. Whoever secured the most votes would be able to form a government, with 27 seats required for a majority. The franchise extended to just under a quarter of a million people, and estimates suggested that turnout could exceed 90 per-cent. Assuming this was accurate, about 113 thousand votes would be required to deliver an outright victory. With such fine margins, both sides were deeply concerned about getting out the vote – any hope of keeping the opposition vote at home evidently wishful thinking. The GPC campaigned on a platform of economic security, promising greater co-operation with other South American nations and ‘real autonomy’ from London. The Progressive Front focused their energies on attacking Burnham’s record, highlighting slow economic development and high levels of racial violence. Their slogan was ‘Peace – Equality – Prosperity’, and their proposed programme focused on jobs, workers’ rights and social welfare. Aside from these two parties, a number of small groups attempted to win seats on a local basis, including both Hindu and Muslim blocs that sprang up in summer 1965 – likely backed by American money.



1966 GEORGETOWN.jpg

Georgetown heralds an imminent Progressive victory, 1966.


In London, Boothby and Cairncross received regular polling updates from the consulate in Georgetown. The same took place in Washington, where Kennedy and Allen Dulles were eager to see their covert intervention bear fruit, relying on data gleaned from their circle of contacts around Burnham and the GPC leadership. By the end of the first week of campaigning, it was clear that the previous year’s efforts had failed to fully overcome the underlying popularity of the Progressive Front; a consulate memo received in London on February 11 put the Progressives in the lead with 43 per-cent of the vote to Burnham’s 39, the rest being undecided. In the White House, the underwhelming news sparked a fresh debate about next steps. If Burnham was not returned, the CIA had already outlined ways in which Guyana could be ‘recovered for democracy’. As the weeks ticked by and the undecideds tied their colours to one mast or the other, Jagan’s lead refused to budge. On February 18, the Progressives were polling at 45 per-cent with only 14 per-cent undecided, and by the end of the month Jagan’s party hit 48 per-cent of the vote while turnout seemed set to exceed nine-tenths of the electorate. In many ways, the demographics were against the GPC: while no one ethnic group held the majority in Guyana, the Indian population outnumbered the African population by a small margin. Burnham’s Afrocentrism was not enough to capture a majority – as both Boothby and Fenner Brockway had recognised earlier on in the decade. Even with the American-sponsored increase to the Black Guyanese voting population, unless the Indo-Guyanese abstained, a mono-ethnic policy was no route to victory. Furthermore, of the two main candidates, Jagan was far more likely to produce a sympathetic response in the section of the population, about an eighth, who were of neither Indian nor African descent.

When polling day came, it was bad news for Washington. It was not, however, an unqualified success for the British. On a turnout of 91 per-cent, slightly lower than suggested by final polls, the Progressive Front had taken 49 per-cent of the vote, winning 26 seats – one shy of an outright majority. Forbes Burnham controlled 24 seats, having secured 44 per-cent of the vote, with the remaining vote share spread out between five smaller groups. The largest of these groups was the Popular Union Party, a party dedicated to representing the Amerindian population of Guyana, who took almost ten thousand votes, and with it three seats. The CIA-front parties, meanwhile, took a paltry 1.5 per-cent of the vote between them, winning no seats.



1966 GUYANA ELECTION.png

Results of the 1966 Guyanese legislative election.

With this set of results, the balance of power in the legislature hung on a knife edge. If Burnham were able to court the PUP into coalition, then he still had hope of survival – albeit with a gravely perilous one-seat majority. Burnham was unfortunate in that the Amerindian bloc was led by Stephen Campbell, an Arawakan Catholic who embodied a curious bundle of almost contradictory political positions. Campbell was by far the oldest of Guyana’s cast of political leaders, only six weeks younger than Aneurin Bevan, and as such he held a long view of the present situation that was in many ways inaccessible to both Burnham and Jagan. Catapulted somewhat improbably to national prominence after the free elections, Campbell was nevertheless sceptical of autonomy. His chief concern was for the protection of the Amerindian community, and above all their land, and he viewed with disdain the mounting racial tensions plaguing the nation and its politics. To this end, he was deeply suspicious of the Burnham, if not the GPC itself, viewing him as being a person willing not only to ‘sell out’ Guyana to the highest bidder, but also as someone who displayed little concern for social cohesion. This did not stop Burnham from playing his hand, and he made an attempt to court the Amerindian leader with promises of land rights recognition and a portion of any foreign aid money put aside for the Amerindian peoples. But it was not enough for Campbell, who could not get over his deeper misgivings about the strongman leader and preferred instead to try his luck with the Progressive Front. With an agreement between the two parties finally concluded, Jagan could count upon a majority of three – exactly the number of seats held by the PUP. It was far from a stable ministry, but it was, at least, a ministry, and on March 14 1966 Cheddi Jagan became the second premier of Guyana since the country gained its autonomy. The danger, however, was yet to pass.
 
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DensleyBlair

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Eagle-eyed readers will note the absence of British Leyland in the above chapter. This is because I cannot be trusted and the aforementioned bus crisis will be covered next week. Until then, please enjoy this comprehensive look at the worsening situation in Guyana – and (massive segue incoming) also remember to vote in the Q1 ACAs, which are now ongoing.
 
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El Pip

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Well this is all too much to do in one go, so I will leave the questionable joys of Guyana till later.

On neither occasion did he get his way, but he was instrumental in cementing the idea in the Assembly that, on foreign affairs, Bevan’s government was not up to the task.
It is quite sweet the way people pretend the Assembly matters in the slightest. Like people getting over-excited by the debates of a Communist Party Congress. I'm sure everyone with actual power is delighted John Freeman wastes his time on such endeavours. Or of course he just a Putin style 'opposition', fully paid up member of the ruling block but making a play of opposition just for appearance sake.

The CWS George Hardy, originally built during the Anti-Fascist Wars and latterly stationed in Melaka.
I remain impressed by your ability to find new ways to make the Commonwealth even more hateful. Having the navy adopt the distressing policy of naming ships after people who know nothing about the navy and aren't even dead is just another way to highlight just how evil a regime it is.

While backed by ruthless intelligence and counter-insurgency policies, Britain's 'hearts and minds' campaign proved successful in shoring up the fortunes of Syndicalism in the Malaysian Confederation, effectively containing the spread of Malay nationalism.
Those Commonwealth troops doubtless have decades of experience in suppressing dissent, rebels, people who look at them funny, etc in the UK, so it is no surprise they are so good at it.

Prominent tribunal members aside from Russell and Camus included James Baldwin, Lawrence Daly, Gore Vidal, Simone Weil and Peter Weiss.
My word what a collection. Just one well placed bomb would take out millions of words of waffle and as many as two original thoughts.

An interesting alt-Malay emergency, a recognisable shape and many similar details yet very much it's own thing. Boothby continues his rise and the many flaws of Bevan become more obvious, is it possible at the next election the people will be presented with a different leader and ordered to vote for them?

To a hardly-known scandal involving Leyland buses (my shameless attempt to capture the Pipian market)
Should you attempt to engage in a confrontation with the monarch, you would be well advised to ensure that your initial attempt meets with comprehensive success.
Z3wSg01.gif
 
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Thank you Pip for your thoughts, acerbic and entertaining as ever. I look forward to your judgement on the Guyanese skullduggery.

An interesting alt-Malay emergency, a recognisable shape and many similar details yet very much it's own thing. Boothby continues his rise and the many flaws of Bevan become more obvious, is it possible at the next election the people will be presented with a different leader and ordered to vote for them?
I'm glad you think this was recognisably its own thing. I was quite conscious of not just dredging up a slightly less-well-known crisis just for its own sake.

As for the next election… stranger things have happened. ;)

My word what a collection. Just one well placed bomb would take out millions of words of waffle and as many as two original thoughts.
To be fair, I got rid of Sartre – who actually did refuse to edit his stuff because editing was 'bourgeois'. So I've already taken out about one million of those words for you.

Should you attempt to engage in a confrontation with the monarch, you would be well advised to ensure that your initial attempt meets with comprehensive success.
Z3wSg01.gif
He says, sparking his flintlock.
 
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Time for a world map with faction colours I think...
 
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Time for a world map with faction colours I think...
World map will come between the volumes, but in the meantime thank you for reminding me that I made a whole Caribbean map and then promptly forgot to include it in the update.

1966%20CENTROAMERICA.jpg
 
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Surprised Mexico and central amercia has no syndacilst links given history...
They may yet. For now everyone is fairly sweet on Washington dollars.

No doubt we’ll have to do something once the Zapatistas come along…

EDIT: I should also say that obviously non aligned does not necessarily equal capitalist.
 
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please join me in lobbying DB to do a side series on the foreign adventures of the Spanish Republic
 
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please join me in lobbying DB to do a side series on the foreign adventures of the Spanish Republic
You know as well as I do that absolutey no one needs to lobby me for this to happen
 
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Should you attempt to engage in a confrontation with the monarch, you would be well advised to ensure that your initial attempt meets with comprehensive success.
Z3wSg01.gif
Just to update on the status of my attempts to ensure the comprehensive success of my imminent engagement in confrontation with the monarch, it may be of general interest to learn that research for the upcoming chapter has led me towards spending an afternoon reading back issues of a fine publication called "The Rice Review". I can wholeheartedly recommend it to any and all readers with a passing interest in, among other diverse and scintillating topics, the racial politics of rice production and its attendant economic disputes in late-1960s Guyana.
 
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Oh, man, I've been on such a rice-politics kick anyway; thanks for the rec! ;)
 
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Oh, man, I've been on such a rice-politics kick anyway; thanks for the rec! ;)
Exactly the sort of enthusiastic response I would expect when dealing with the white-knuckle, cut-and-thrust world of rice politics, whose enduring mass appeal is surely beyond doubt.
 
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That right there is @El Pip material if I've ever heard it!
 
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That right there is @El Pip material if I've ever heard it!
Meeting the monarch on his own turf, the question now lies only in the execution of the attempt. Will the rice fuel greatness, or are we in for a poor harvest? It is in the hands of the gods.

I should also say that the Rice Review is genuinely interesting stuff, and it has surprisingly wide-reaching implications for a whole host of things in the Commonwealth’s future, so it has been a very fortuitous and fruitful find. With any luck I will be able to do it justice when the update comes.
 
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Meeting the monarch on his own turf, the question now lies only in the execution of the attempt. Will the rice fuel greatness, or are we in for a poor harvest? It is in the hands of the gods.
IR-8 rice, the Massey 35hp tractor, the "scissor crisis" (tractor and rice variant) that is a seeming requirement of all socialist development schemes, the regular confusion over what the point of the entire endeavour is (keeping small farmers in a job or actually producing a decent amount of rice), the spectre of sugar cane looming over it all. It is an obscure detail filled subject you have chosen, now you must make the most of the raw materials available.

That right there is @El Pip material if I've ever heard it!
It has potential, but it must be linked back to grand diplomatic strategy and that may well be the tricky bit. Of course if it was oil bearing nuts then it would be obvious.
 
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It has potential, but it must be linked back to grand diplomatic strategy and that may well be the tricky bit. Of course if it was oil bearing nuts then it would be obvious.
Its wider diplomatic significance is perhaps not immediately evident, but I assure you it is there. Mostly to do with the extent to which race played a part in the post-independence Guyanese economy.
 
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