The biographical information below summarizes the primary events in the life of Grenadian Herbert A. Blaize between 1970-1984.
Herbert Blaize was known as 'Herbie' and also 'the man in the grey fedora hat.' He was a decent man; a hard worker, though some thought he was somewhat lackluster. In 1940, he'd had a fractured spine. He was plagued by ill health which included arthritis and prostate cancer. Near the end of his political life, according to some, he became increasingly authoritarian, commandeering and controlling of processes and staff.
H.A. Blaize had come to this period of time [1970-1984] with a long history of civic and political activity in Grenada. A solicitor, he first engaged in political activity in 1956, aligned with the Grenada National Party (GNP).
The victor in the 24 September 1957 elections was Herbert Blaize, who led a coalition, and won the Carriacou/Petite Martinique seat from Frederick Bridgewater Paterson.
On 28 October 1957 Gairy lost his seat in the legislature for having marched a steel band through a meeting of his political opponent, the GNP. Gairy was disenfranchised from October 1957-August 1961. He had lost his right to sit as a member of the Legislative Council. Gairy was appointed chief minister for the first time in 1958 to January 1960.
The new constitutional provisions had come into effect 21 December 1959, predicated on the continuance of the Federation, and granting a full ministerial system of government which provided for an Administrator to administer government and represent the Queen. Blaize was appointed the first Chief Minister from 1 January 1960-March 1961 when Legislative Council provisions took effect.
General elections were held 27 March 1961 when Joshua Thorne of GULP was the surrogate for Gairy who remained disenfranchised by Administrator Lloyd. It also was in this election that Gairy's wife Cynthia Gairy won the seat for GULP from St. David's parish.
From March 1961 - August 1961 the appointed 2nd Chief Minister was George E.D. Clyne.
It was during this time Gairy announced that he was 'advisor to Government' and seemed to operate within government from his home and Market Square. Blaize won the seat from Carriacou in this election, 27 March 1961.
On 24 July 1961 a by-election was held which Gairy won handsomely. He was reinstated and in August 1961 became Chief Minister and Minister of Finance. But afterwards Gairy and his GULP was under the shadow of the squandermania scandal for corruption. Gairy was Chief Minister for the third time from August 1961-19 June 1962.
James Monteith Lloyd, the Administrator, appointed a Commission whose enquiry began 5 February 1962 and was completed 2 May 1962. The Commission of Enquiry [into the Control of Public Expenditure in Grenada in 1961 and Subsequently] Report triggered the suspension of the constitution on 18 June 1962. The next day Gairy was no longer Chief Minister, and his whole Cabinet dismissed.
Grenada was now under 'direct rule' of Britain with Lloyd as the sole person responsible for government. Not only was the constitution suspended, the dissolution of the Legislative and Executive Councils were nullified.
The Grenada National Party (GNP) of Herbert Blaize won the September 1962 election on the promise that the party would seek a national union with larger and wealthier Trinidad in the wake of the dissolution of the West Indies Federation. The GNP had accepted a proposal from Dr. Eric Williams, Trinidad's political boss, that Grenada join Trinidad and Tobago in a Unitary State. The driving issue in the September 1962 election was union with Trinidad. Blaize favored it; Gairy wanted discussion.
From September 1962 through August 1967, Blaize was Chief Minister and Prime Minister of Grenada. Grenada now could manage its own internal affairs under the status of Associated Statehood, achieved under Blaize's administration. Blaize was Chief Minister up to 27 February 1967. At the attainment of Associated Statehood, Herbert Augustus Blaize became Grenada's first Premier.
The 'Go Trinidad' movement backfired on the GNP in the 25 August 1967 election as Gairy campaigned on 'the GNP fraud' and on a deliberate betrayal of the people by the government. Eric Gairy defeated Blaize in the election of 25 August 1967. While Gairy was Prime Minister 1968-71, Blaize was Grenada National Party (GNP) Opposition Leader.
The elections of February 1972 squared off two major parties: the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) and the Grenada National Party (GNP). GULP won the majority of seats. GNP won 2 [Blaize and W.R.L. Friday] of the 15 seats. Friday left the GNP, joined the GULP party and became Minister of Education while Blaize remained the sole opposition member in Parliament until the elections of 7 November 1976. Blaize, representing the parish of Carriacou, was inactive during this period because of his faltering health.
Gairy had been making his moves for Grenadian independence with Britain since 1970 and in May of 1973. As Leader of the Opposition, Hon. H.A. Blaize accompanied Premier Gairy to London in October 1972 to have preliminary independence talks with Ministers of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The preset May dates in 1973 saw both Gairy and Blaize, and other members of the Government and Opposition Delegations, attending a Grenada Constitutional Conference with Right Hon. Lord Balniel, Minister of State and member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Gairy and Blaize argued the case concerning constitutionality in London. Blaize, with 14,000 signatures behind him by way of a petition, did not want to see independence without a referendum.
Herbert Blaize, as the leader of the Grenada National Party and the GNP as a whole tried to coordinate with NJM to work out political and social reforms as conditions of independence. The NJM was not interested [a story not followed here]. Bernard Coard went to London also, arguing how Grenada could not stand alone financially with independence from Great Britain. Independence from Great Britain did come to Grenada on 7 February 1974.
It was at Seamoon, Sunday, 6th April 1975, where we find Herbert Blaize speaking about unity and not "spinning top in mud." Blaize sought to include the NJM into a unity party for opposition to Gairy's GULP.
In a press release of 12 April 1975, the New Jewel Movement qualified the terms of such unity by asking a "serious organisation" for (1) "a common identification of the problems facing us;" and (2) that the solutions should broadly coincide.
In the press release, the NJM commented:
NJM further revealed its stance and included one of their demands for people's control of financial institutions:
A strong, vibrant, energetic organ can easily be slowed down or even killed by close contact with a dying one.
In this regard, we view as comical the call by the GNP for public renunciation by us of our proposed policies to control our financial institutions and to introduce for the first time in Grenada a system of direct and meaningful democracy to replace the present bankruptcy of the unproductive pappyshow and expensive House and Senate.
The elections of 7 November 1976, found Winston Whyte's United People's Party (UPP), Blaize and GNP, and NJM aligned under the umbrella organization called 'The People's Alliance.' After the elections, six opposition leaders had been chosen, running on The People's Alliance ticket.
The opposition leaders included Blaize, representing Carriacou. The remainder of the six were Town of St. George Bernard Coard, St. George's South-West Maurice Bishop, St. Andrew's South-West Norris Bain, St. George's North-East Unison Whiteman,and St. John's Lloyd Noel.
After the coup d'etat of 13 March 1979, in order to make things legal, Herbert Blaize was proposed to be among the Opposition members chosen as part of the cabinet of the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG). This was CARICOM and Tom Adams' proposed constitutional formula. The complicated maneuver depended on many factors of agreement. The negotiations were not successful [also a story not followed here].
On 25 March 1979, the newspaper 'The Torchlight' claimed an 'enemies' list was found in Gairy's home at Fort Royal. On that list, among other names, was the name of Herbert Blaize. Gairy wrote "May God Help Me Overcome These Enemies."
Concerning the Preventive Tribunal of May 1979, Alister Hughes wrote this in the "Grenada Newsletter of 5 May 1979:
"Mr. Herbert Blaize, Political Leader of the GNP, has criticized the fact that the Tribunal has neither legal training nor advice, and that detainees are not represented by counsel."
According to various newspaper accounts from the 'Torchlight' and 'Grenada Newsletter,' the GNP attempted to hold public meetings in Sauteurs and Grenville. Allegedly, at both rallies, NJM members heckled GNP members and disabled their ability to speak to the public. Police were called, but they did not arrive.
Grenadian journalist Alister Hughes is supposed to have received these remarks from Bishop:
" . . . he had no condemnation of the break-up of the meeting. The GNP political leader, Herbert Blaize, was 'too divisive,' he told me. What Blaize must do, he said, was to have an indoor meeting where the public could ask him questions."
The GNP was never officially banned by the PRG.
After these abortive efforts to put forth the party's views, the Grenada National Party pulled back from public appearances and presentations.
Blaize was among those who called for early constitutional rule.
According to Sandford's "New Jewel":
". . . April 1980 Herbert Blaize and the Grenada National Party . . . drafted a constitution for a presidential system similar to that of the United States and sent it to Bishop. To allow the NJM time to consolidate its regime, Blaize offered on behalf of his party not to contest the first presidential elections but only to bid for seats in the legislature. The letter went unanswered, despite a renewal of the Grenada National Party's offer in October of the same year ."
Following the tragedies of October 1983, in the aftermath of the Interim Advisory Council and Union Island agreement, Blaize headed up government as leader of the coalition New National Party (NNP). In December of 1984, Blaize was once again Prime Minister when parliamentary elections established his position.
The 1984 Emergency Powers Act [a National Disaster Plan] was established during Blaize's tenure. Also during Blaize's term came this censure from the AI Report of 1986: "Amnesty International wrote to Prime Minister Herbert Blaize on 22 April , expressing concern at conditions under which the 19 defendants, who were still awaiting trial, were detained in Richmond Hill Prison [still another story]."
In hindsight, the confiscation of books to Grenada in October 1988 and March 1989, and the subsequent actions taken stands out as noteworthy. Evidently the books in the first shipment were on a list of banned books and the second batch were referred to as 'restricted.' The books were from Pathfinder Press, a publishing company of the Socialist Workers Party, and included such titles, among many, as "Maurice Bishop Speaks;" "Malcolm X Speaks" and "The Struggle is My Life" by Nelson Mandela. Although not published by Pathfinder, a personal copy of the book "Our Man in Havana" by Graham Greene was also impounded. Tracks were covered on 14th April 1989 when the Grenada Government Gazette published S.R. & O. No. 6 of 1989: - The Importation of Publications (Prohibition) Order, 1989. It is interesting to note that Pathfinder's collection speech of Maurice Bishop are not on this list. [There is more to this story than space allows here]
Blaize lost control of the NNP and his Prime Ministership in August 1989 during party elections [to the current Prime Minister Keith Mitchell] and formed The National Party (TNP). Blaize continued as Prime Minister. His years of service to Grenada lasted until his death 19 December 1989.