Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson
National Hero of Belize
Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson was a Belizean newspaper editor, activist and politician. He served in the House of Representatives of Belize as member for the Albert Division from 1961 to 1998 and twice as a Minister. He was a founding member of the People's United Party (PUP), National Independence Party (NIP), United Democratic Party (UDP) and National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR).
Early life and education
Goldson was born on 25 July 1923 in Belize City. He was the second son of Peter Edward Goldson and Florence Babb and attended St. Mary's Primary School. Although he never had an opportunity to go to a secondary school he studied at night and succeeded in obtaining the Cambridge University Overseas Junior Certificate in 1939 and the Senior School Certificate in 1941. For much of the early 1940s he participated in the Open Forum movement featuring George Price and Leigh Richardson as well as older activists such as Clifford Betson and Antonio Soberanis. But his main job was as editor of the Belize Billboard, which he took up in 1941.
From 1941 to 1947, he worked in the British Honduras Civil Service, at the same time started his journalism career doing editing work at “Civil Service Chronicle”. With the advent of the Nationalist Movement, he wrote news items for the Belize Billboard. The plight of the workers in Belize led him into trade unionism. He became the National Organizer of The General Workers Union in 1949, later becoming its General Secretary.
In 1950, Belize's first major political party, the PUP, was formed under John Smith as leader. Goldson was named Assistant Secretary, working under honourable George Price. He continued to edit the Billboard and kept it running as a daily newspaper until its offices were destroyed in the late 1960s.
In 1951 both Goldson and Leigh Richardson were convicted of Seditious Intention based on an extract from the Belize Billboard, which stated, “There are two roads to self government (Independence). Evolution and Revolution. We are now trying evolution.” The Colonial Government held that the words imputed intention to try revolution if evolution did not succeed. They were sentenced to one year’s hard labour. While in prison he taught his fellow inmates to read and write.
In 1956, he resigned from his post along with nine others, citing Price's ambitious moves within the party hierarchy. They would never work together again.
Prior to going to jail for his ideals Mr. Goldson won a seat to the Belize City Council and had served as Vice-President (Deputy Mayor) until his conviction.
Once free he went back gladly to public life and in 1954 won a seat in the British Honduras Legislative Council where he was appointed member (quasi-Minister) for Social Services, a post he served with dignity until 1957 when his political career hit a snag. His portfolio included Labour, Housing and Planning, Health, Education and Social Welfare and Community Development. During this period he coordinated the building of Corozal Town after its destruction in 1955 by Hurricane Janet.
He pioneered the Village Council system, enacted a new Education Ordinance making Primary Education free, granting government assistance to Secondary Schools for the first time and initiated special allowance for retired teachers who up to then did not enjoy pension benefits, confirmed Belize as contributing member of the U.W.I., also established Department of Housing and Planning with Henry C. Fairweather as its first Director and Town Planner, and revised Government Workers Rules establishing the check-off system for trade unions.
On election day 1954, he married Hadie Jones. Phillip Goldson fathered 6 children: Phillip, Dale, Adrian, Karen-Anne, Ann Margaret and Florence
Days in opposition
Goldson joined Leigh Richardson under the Honduran Independence Party and contested the 1957 election unsuccessfully. He failed again as a member of the National Independence Party in 1961 but won one of two seats in the House for the NIP. This began his role as the long-running member of the Opposition; from 1961 to 1974 he sat in the House alone (he was appointed after the NIP lost all eighteen seats to the PUP in 1961 elections), joined only by Edwin Morey from 1965 to 1969, and remained in opposition until the PUP lost elections in 1984.
Goldson, according to historian Assad Shoman, singlehandedly kept the two party system in Belize alive at a time when citizens distrusted the PUP and ignored the NIP. Goldson, however, eventually left to pursue a law degree in London, returning in 1974 after the formation of the UDP.
After Theodore Aranda was deposed as leader of the UDP in 1982, Goldson ran unsuccessfully against Manuel Esquivel for the post of UDP leader, but won a Ministership in 1984.In the 1984 elections he not only won his seat but also celebrated the first victory of his party (UDP). He was appointed Minister of Social Services.
As Minister he established the Family Court, the Belize City Urban Department, the Department of Women’s Affairs, the District Councils, and the Disabilities Service Division.
Second life with the NABR
Upon the occasion of the Maritime Areas Act's passage in 1991, Goldson led a group of politicians away to start the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR). He charged that the PUP and UDP had hijacked politics in Belize for themselves and pledged to fight Belize's cause. Despite his retirement, on January 13, 1992, he was instrumental in the formation of the National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR).
Honours and awards
In 1989, the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport was named in his honour.
In 2001 he was conferred with the Order of Belize for his patriotism and political work.
Death and legacy
When a terminal building was to be built at the International Airport, the Prime Minister and Cabinet decided to rename the facility the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport. In September 2001, he presented with the Order of Belize.
Philip Stanley Wilberforce Goldson died on 3 October 2001 after a long illness. He was laid to rest with a State funeral. He was 78.
In September 2008, Goldson was posthumously awarded with the country's highest honor given to a Belizean, the Order of National Hero.