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REMEMBERING BREE: Most resilient politician

Harold Hoyte

REMEMBERING BREE: Most resilient politician

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PRIOR TO his death on Sunday, February 29, Sir Harold St John was one of only three survivors of the Parliament of 1966.

Barbados has no survivors of any previous Parliament.

Sir Harold had the honour to serve in parliaments of Barbados in which all of the prime ministers and premiers (except Dr H.G. Cummins – 1958 to 1961) sat. He would therefore have rubbed shoulders with Sir Grantley Adams in 1966; the Right Excellent Errol Barrow in 1966, 1976 and 1981; J. M. G. M. Adams in 1976 and 1981; Sir Lloyd Sandiford in 1976, 1981, 1991, 1994, and Owen Arthur in 1991, 1994 and 1999.

He won and lost – losing twice and winning five times – he was perhaps Barbados’ most resolute, most resilient politician.

The only survivors of the 1966 parliament are former St James Senior Member Lionel Craig and former Senior Member for St Michael J. B. “Patsy” Springer.

Speaker of that 1966 Parliament was Sir Theodore Brancker, Senior Member for St Lucy. Leader of the House was Cameron Tudor (later Sir James),  Junior Member for St Lucy and the Right Excellent Errol Barrow (Senior Member for St John) was Prime Minister.

Sir Harold won his first attempt to represent Christ Church, carrying the flag of the Barbados Labour Party (BLP). He received 5 572 votes, almost 1 000 more than the Junior Member Sir Edwy Talma of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), who hitherto had always (from 1951) been the senior Christ Church member.

Losers in that contest were Peter Morgan of the Democratic Labour Party and Fred Goddard of the Barbados National Party.

By 1971 Barbados’ parliamentary system had changed to single member constituencies, and St John chose to run in Christ Church South Central where he lost to Anderson “Peanuts” Morrison of the DLP by 78 votes. Morgan ran for North Central and won; Talma ran for East and won and Henry Forde (later Sir Henry Forde) ran for West and won.

In a return contest in 1976 St John whipped Morrison in South Central by a margin of 1 807 to 1 204.

The Christ Church boundaries were again changed in 1981 and Sir Harold ran in East Central where he won in a straight fight against Dr Bobby Thomas.

But in the next election – 1986 – Sir Harold would come up against young trade unionist Robert “Bobby” Morris and lose by 252 votes in East Central.

A further boundary change was made and a fifth constituency was created in Christ Church for the 1991 elections – Christ Church South – and St John represented his BLP in that election and won over Dr Carl Clarke of the DLP, and George Bispham of the National Democratic Party.

St John would go on to retain Christ Church South in the subsequent elections of 1994 and 1999, beating John Boyce on both occasions and retiring from active politics prior to the 2003 general elections.

Here is a summary of all the general elections in which Sir Harold was a candidate:

1966: Christ Church (Double Member constituency)

H.B. St John (BLP) 5 572

C.E. Talma (DLP) 4 587

P.G. Morgan (DLP) 4 348

F.C. Goddard (BNP) 4 115

(St John and Talma elected).

1971: Christ Church South Central (Single Member constituency)

A. Morrison (DLP) 1 570

H. B. St John (BLP) 1 492

(Morrison elected).

1976: Christ Church South Central

H.B. St John (BLP) 1 807

A. Morrison (DLP) 1 204

(St John elected).

1981: Christ Church East Central

H.B. St John (BLP) 2 507

R. Thomas (DLP) 1 783

(St John elected).

1986: Christ Church East Central

R. Morris (DLP) 2 811

H. B. St John (BLP) 2 559

(Morris Elected).

1991: Christ Church South

H. B. St John (BLP) 2 378

C. Clarke (DLP) 1 761

G. Bispham (NDP) 282

(St John elected).

1994: Christ Church South

H. B. St John (BLP) 2 456

J. Boyce (DLP) 1 554

M. Bayley (NDP) 395

B. Larrier (IND) 46

(St John Elected).

1999: Christ Church South

H.B. St John (BLP) 2 659

J. Boyce (DLP) 1 776

(St John elected).

 This article was published March 14, 2004.