First Universal Suffrage Elections (excerpt)

In 1950, when Gairy established his political party, the Grenada People’s Party (GPP), later known as the GULP, within a short time of establishing his trade union, the GMMWU, he had a purpose. His early activities on behalf of the laborers and agricultural workers without doubt were his first strategic political moves. He positioned himself. Through his union and his political party, he established himself as someone on whom the ordinary working class could depend for advancing their cause. He frequently referred to the process as the “movement,” as first hinted at in his meeting on March 15, 1951. Based on the results of Grenada’s first universal suffrage elections in October 1951, the movement was gaining momentum.


Gairy sought to rebuild his base after the GULP’s poor showing of only two seats in the elections of September 1957. He succeeded. When the GULP won the next elections of 1961 with a huge majority of eight out of ten seats, it led Lloyd to make the previously mentioned statement.

The background to this resurgence of the GULP in the elections of 1961 is an indication of the importance of the vote of the sector of the population that Gairy and the GULP constantly courted. As noted, in the general elections in September 1957, no one political party gained a majority of seats. Each of the four parties gained two seats each. Immediately following those elections, the opposition forces engaged in joint political strategies against Gairy and the GULP. The specific efforts were aimed at preventing Gairy from having any political influence in the new Executive Council and Legislative Council. It was opportune for the opposition to have and to pursue the simple goal of preventing Gairy from being able to lead the government. It was also a good time for the opposition to aim at eradicating “Gairyism” and the “Movement.” They began escalating the growth of the young Grenada National Party (GNP). That notion seemed to have received the tacit but welcome support from the British government representatives, including the resident Governor. By his own words, Governor Sir Colville Deverell considered the GNP to be weak when matched with Gairy and the GULP. However, he viewed the GNP as an organized political party with future positive benefits to the existing colonial system. It was mainly a party of middle-class persons and carried no trimmings of close association with trade unionism. At that time, it did not seriously embrace the cause of the ordinary agricultural and other laborers like the GULP did. Regardless, it was seen to be the best acceptable alternative to the GULP, especially since the Governor and his colleagues considered the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) to be a collection of individuals who banded together for purely selfish purposes.