Right Excellent Sir Robert L. Bradshaw
Any critical examination of politics in St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla between the periods 1940-1971 must essentially focus on the contribution of the Honourable R.L. Bradshaw to Caribbean politics generally and St. Kitts-Nevis more specifically.
Mr. Bradshaw laid the foundation to socio-economic and political development of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla. During the period in question, Bradshaw gave his life struggles to ensure tranquillity, political independence and economic diversification in St. Kitts-Nevis and to a limited extent on Anguilla.
“Papa Bradshaw” as he was affectionately called, realized in his time, that under British rule Nevis and Anguilla could remain disaffected by the arrangement that located the real seat of power in St. Kitts. Anguilla and Nevis feared that they would be more neglected and further impoverished by this political arrangement that did not take their thrusts for nationalism into consideration.
Mr. Bradshaw was a firm believer in the Federation in the unification of the Caribbean bloc for economic and political gains. He was realistic and knew that such a decision had a price – sacrifice and struggle. In the now-defunct federal exercise, Mr. Bradshaw served as Minister of Finance. It is interesting to note the many and varied attempts at establishing socio-economic cohesion in the Caribbean since 1961 spurred on by nations all over the world forced to discover similarities instead of differences, emphasizing oneness over division.
Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw was born in St. Paul’s, St. Kitts on September 16, 1916. He died in St. Kitts on May 23, 1978. Mr. Bradshaw rose from abject poverty and the simple village life of St. Paul’s to become a prime mover and shaker of national and regional politics. His mission was to give black men and women in St. Kitts-Nevis freedom from the domination of the planter class. He believed that Caribbean people could achieve a quality of life that ensured education, job opportunities and a piece of the rock.
Mr. Bradshaw urgently wanted the workers to be a vital part of this massive social change. From 1945-1975, Mr. Bradshaw breathed fresh life into the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union and its political arm, the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, to give concrete expression and deliverance to the plight of the workers. In time, both organizations became virtual extensions of the man, Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw. He became then “Papa Bradshaw” in name and in reality.
Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw was a charismatic leader – keenly intelligent, self-educated and clear-headed, strong-willed and courageous to the extreme. Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw was absolutely committed to the poor. Mr. Bradshaw was a brilliant orator, and a passionate Trades Unionist and politician whose communication skills were legendary and exemplary. Robert Lewellyn Bradshaw lived a life for his people. He has left a legacy as a political icon with a heart and soul given to generosity and humanity. Our lives will remain touched by this great son of the soil.