KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 27, IWN – ‘Totally out of place.” That is how Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves described a BBC producer who said no British Prime Minister would behave as Gonsalves did at a press conference on Monday.
Matthew Chapman, producer of a BBC “Panorama” show to be made about Harlequin, which owns Buccament Bay Resort, told I-Witness News on Tuesday that while Gonsalves wants to be treated like his British counterparts, he doesn’t behave like them.
“… I can confidently say that no British Prime Minister would stoop to waving private and confidential documents around during a press conference, openly displaying the personal details of people who had applied to enter the country,” Chapman told I-Witness News.
During a press conference on Monday, Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security, briefly displayed
immigration forms signed by BBC journalist Matthew Hill and Paul Kenyon.
He said the men had indicated on the forms that they had come to the country as tourists, but had in fact come to work.
“Now, one of them said today you can’t compare me with British prime ministers. Apparently, they [are] better than me,” Gonsalves said as he hosted a special edition of “ULP Speaks” on Star Radio, to celebrate the station’s fifth anniversary.
“Well, the point about it is this: I never sent planes into Iraq to bomb there and kill people, I never colonise this country (SVG), I am not responsible for the genocide of the Garifuna people; it’s the British,” Gonsalves said.
“I did not impose slavery on the people here; it’s the British. And they gave 20 million pounds to the slave owners across the Caribbean [when slavery was abolished]. They didn’t gave the ex-slaves one thing.
“So, tell me. I am not like them. I am better than them. I am never got involved in any of those things. So the point about it is this, … I made a simple point, I am no less a prime minister than Brown, Blair and Cameron and therefore, there are basic things you have to threat me with respect,” Gonsalves said.
He has said that Kenyon and Hill were unprofessional in their approach when they asked him in Barbados on Feb. 17 about an allegation that British investor Dave Ames had taken a bag of money to the office of the Prime Minister and left without it.
Both Gonsalves and Ames have denied the allegation.
“So, don’t come and treat me with no foolishness that … I can’t compare myself with them (British prime minister)? Why? Because they came in here saying they are tourists and they came to work. They can’t do that. That is against the law,” Gonsalves further said.
He further said the BBC journalists came and “picked a side in this country.
“So I must not tell the people what I know about how they came in?”
Gonsalves, however, said he did not want to turn the situation “into an anti-British thing, because there is a lot in British civilisation which is good.
“… But don’t come and talk that kind of an arrogant colonial foolishness to me. Totally out of place,” he said.
He further accused the opposition New Democratic Party of joining “with people who want to pull down St. Vincent and the Office of the Prime Minister.
“… the 400 and something people who are working down at Buccament [Bay Resort], they must know that the NDP is conniving with people in England to see if they can close that down so that they go lose their work,” Gonsalves said.