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The most fitting tribute for Edgar Cruickshank

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Fri, Dec 12, 2014

Even before the body of long-time political activist, and former national cricketer, Edgar Cruickshank, is laid to rest, a political storm is raging over the circumstances of his tragic death following a motor vehicular collision at a public meeting of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) last weekend.{{more}}

In a situation where tempers are obviously inflamed, the atmosphere is a highly charged and very volatile one. Long years of animosity between the NDP and its supporters on one hand, and the governing Unity Labour Party (ULP) and its adherents on the other, provide an explosive background to this latest tragedy. Accusations and allegations are flying left, right and centre, and the tone is not at all encouraging.

It is a testing time, calling for mature leadership and level-headedness on the part of the political leadership. But it is tempting to slip into irresponsibility, to jump ahead of police investigations and jump to conclusions. That will certainly do no good in such a tense atmosphere.

The police and legal authorities must be allowed to proceed with their investigations, but transparency must be the name of the game. In making his appeal for calm, Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace was correct in saying that how this matter is handled can have far-reaching implications for our country and its democracy. Those in authority must bear this in mind and act in a way to ensure that confidence is maintained in our justice system. The political sensibilities involved make the stakes very high.

There is no doubt that the late Edgar Cruickshank was one of our country’s foremost political activists. He must have attended more political meetings than “John read about”, as the older folk would say. But like many other political activists, he was the victim of a two-party political system that is designed to win elections, not to ensure popular democracy and participation afterwards.

Activists like these make even bigger contributions in electoral campaigns than many of the eventual parliamentarians and ministers. But the system is such that sometimes disillusion sets in, and the other party moves in to capitalise on the situation.

It is sad to hear the claims being made now on the late activist. Can we not respect his contribution to our political democracy without having to claim whom he supported in the end? Can we not remember Edgar as one who was unafraid to stand up for what he believed to be right? As a man who was not afraid to stand alone in his struggle if no one else was prepared to stand with him, as a man of courage and conviction?

That, and not any claims on his political support, not any attempt to benefit politically from his loss, would be the most fitting tribute.

SEARCHLIGHT offers our sincerest condolences to his bereaved family.

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