Veteran politician Sir Vincent Ian Beache, who served as Leader of the Opposition, head of the St. Vincent Labour Party (SVLP), and later at the helm of the Unity Labour Party (ULP), has died.
Sir Vincent died at 3:10 a.m. on Monday, Star FM, the ULP’s radio station, announced.
He was 87.
iWitness News understand that Sir Vincent had been ill with prostate-related problems for some time before his death.
Sir Vincent had a long history in politics in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, beginning in 1972, when he lost to lawyer Victor Cuffy in the famous 6-6-1 elections, which resulted in the James Mitchell alliance with the People’s Political Party.
From January 1975 to 1978, under the SVLP government, Sir Vincent was Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Agriculture.
Between March 1978 and April 1984, Sir Vincent served as Member of Parliament for North Central Windward and Minister of Trade and Agriculture.
He retained his seat as Member of Parliament for North Central Windward in 1984 when Sir James Mitchell’s New Democratic Party (NDP) was voted into office.
He served as Opposition Leader between July 1985 and March 1989, when the NDP made a clean sweep of the polls.
Sir Vincent won the South Windward seat in 1994 and served as Leader of the Opposition between March 1994 and August 1999.
In 1999, Sir Vincent was replaced as Opposition Leader by Ralph Gonsalves, whose Movement for National Unity (MNU) had merged with the SVLP, to form the ULP.
In the 1998 polls, the ULP won the popular vote, but remained in opposition under the nation’s first-past-the-post electoral system.
When the ULP was elected to office in March 2001, Sir Vincent, who was returned as Member of Parliament for South Windward, was appointed Minister of National Security, the Public Service and Airport Development.
However, he only served one term in office under the ULP administration, and bowed out of electoral politics in 2005.
His son, Glen Beache, replaced Sir Vincent as the ULP’s candidate for South Windward.
The younger Beache retained the seat, but also served only one term before quitting politics.
Over the next decade, however, Sir Vincent continued to wield political influence, including as consultant and advisor to the Minister of National Security (Gonsalves).
In that post, he, along with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, had basic oversight of the day-to-day operations of the ministry.
But even after leaving the post in December 2015, Sir Vincent continued to serve on various government boards, including as chairman of the Housing and Land Development Corporation, and as a member of the Firearms Board.
He remained a personal advisor to Gonsalves to the end and the Prime Minister said on Thursday that he sought Sir Vicente’s counsel, more than once, about the appointment of a new governor general.
Susan Dougan was appointed governor general last Thursday, replacing Sir Frederick Ballantyne, who served from September 2002 to last Wednesday.