The savage Caribbean must try to sort itself out

I have been very unsociable of late. A decline caused by age? Possibly. Anyway I grasped the opportunity to attend a friend's wedding last Saturday. I had almost forgotten how to dance, but the party went swimmingly well.

Two conversations dominated my day, both bearing heavily on Caribbean life. The first conversation was about the descent into barbarism reflected by the hanging of nine men within four days and the likelihood that 100 more will be hanged within the next nine months in Trinidad, an island whose entire population numbers 1.2 million.

Remember this name for all time: Ramesh Maharaj, who once opposed hanging, who was once charged with conspiracy to murder, and whose brother is on death row in Florida. He is Trinidad's attorney- general and he is leading the modern Caribbean into a state of decay.

When will it end? There were several Caribbean professionals attending the party - members of the House of Lords, trade unionists, old Labour Party activists - and not one denied the brutality that is so obvious to everyone except the Caribbean people and their leaders.

And while the Caribbean politicians claim the moral high ground, and the necks of some poor souls, they owe the British government millions of pounds for the use of the Privy Council. So they boast propriety while they cheat on the very justice system upon which they depend to kill offenders. They do not deserve our sympathy.

I was dancing my night away when Bill Morris, general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union, approached me about the decline in the quality of West Indian cricket.

He wondered at the "pathetic" showing at Old Trafford against the Australians. "I was thoroughly ashamed," said Bill and then he proposed (I suppose jokingly) that the West Indians should withdraw from international cricket and be ordered by the International Cricket Council to re-qualify for the right to play Test matches.

In cricket, as in everything else, the Caribbean people must get their house in order. Those in charge seem unable to organise anything without disaster following.

Let me illustrate. Basdeo Panday, the prime minister of Trinidad (that place again!), had perchance met Donald Trump. Panday fawned so much over this silly American that the latter was able, on a golf course, to persuade him that he should support an international beauty contest, to the tune of £80 million. Trump convinced him that the entire world would view this garden of splendour on their televisions. As a result Trinidad would enjoy vast sums of inward investment.

Nothing of the sort happened, even after government aid soared even higher than the initial figure.

No one in the UK saw any such programme. Not only that: whenever they wrote about it English journalists identified incompetence and corruption. The beauty contest, once it fell into the hands of the Caribbean people, had the opposite effect to the one intended. The lights went out, one man was electrocuted and angry demonstrators almost stopped the show.

The point about the present cricket side is that it is based mainly in the Caribbean itself. The side that successfully dominated international cricket for so many years was only West Indian in origin. Almost all its members developed their game in English county cricket but, once the English began to restrict their numbers so that they had to play mainly at home, they became incompetent players of the game.

No doubt someone will soon propose an evacuation of these islands which sprang up quite accidentally aeons ago. Some international bank or other. I suppose I am joking but I am forced into scripture to dramatise their plight: "They brought nothing into this world. And they shall take nothing away."

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