Tillman Joseph Thomas
Former Prime Minister of Grenada
Tillman Thomas is a former Prime Minister of Grenada.
Early life and education
Tillman Joseph Thomas was born into very humble beginnings in Hermitage, St. Patrick, Grenada on 13 June 1947 to Mr. and Mrs. Franco Thomas, who were disciplinarians and placed great emphasis on honesty. His mother was a housewife and his father was a well known farmer.
Tillman Thomas worked his way up from the classrooms of Tivoli Roman Catholic School to the hallowed halls of New York’s Fordham University where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He later attended the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and the Hugh Wooding Law School where he completed a LL.B. and a Certificate of Legal Education respectively.
An attorney by profession, he was one of the founders of the NDC and one of the faithful few who stuck with the Party through its darkest hours. Tillman Thomas has been instrumental in orchestrating NDC’s resurrection from the ashes of a 15-0 defeat at the polls in 1999, falling just 6 votes short of forming the government in 2003 when his party lost 8-7 and now, its evolution to a viable and vibrant political force in Grenada, winning the 2008 general election by an 11-4 margin.
Upon his return to Grenada in 1978 Tillman Thomas began his political career when he became involved in the Human Rights and Legal Aid Programme along with then leader of the New Jewel Movement Maurice Bishop. This programme provided legal support services to needy citizens. His peers were of the opinion that he was destined to the political arena because of his “openness, honesty, transparency and concern about Grenada.
On July 11, 1981 Tillman Thomas was imprisoned for his part in the publication of the Grenadian Voice Newspaper, a newspaper that was seen by the Maurice Bishop led Peoples Revolutionary Government (PRG) as “counter-revolutionary”. His ability to consistently stand for his beliefs, even while in prison, has been a hallmark of his political career. He was released from prison when US-led forces intervened in Grenada in 1983.
His strength of character is further seen in his ability to serve in the current administration alongside some of the members of the PRG who imprisoned him. Following the events of October 1983, when democracy was restored to the island, Mr. Thomas joined the Grenada Democratic Movement. The GDM became one of the four parties to merge in 1984, forming the National Party (NNP) which governed Grenada from 1984 to 1990 after winning the 1984 general elections with a 14-1 majority. He won the St. Patrick East constituency in the 1984 election and was appointed as a Junior Minister in the Ministry of Legal Affairs.
In 1987 he left the NNP and became a founding member of the NDC, and from 1987 to 1990 he was the party's Assistant General Secretary. Mr. Thomas was defeated in St. Patrick East in the 1990 election, but he was nevertheless appointed as a Junior Minister in the Ministry of Labour. Subsequently he was appointed as Minister in the Ministries of Works and Tourism.
Hon. Tillman Thomas was re-elected in the St. Patrick’s East constituency on 27 November 2003 and became Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. Five years later, as a result of the 8 July 2008 General Elections, he became Grenada’s 8th Prime Minister since Independence, following his party’s 11-4 victory at the polls.
After nearly five years in power, the NDC suffered a crushing defeat in the February 2013 general election, losing all of its seats, including the seat held by Thomas. The opposition NNP won all 15 seats and Keith Mitchell returned to office as Prime Minister. In the wake of the defeat, Thomas said in an interview that he was willing to stand aside as party leader:
He is married to Sandra Thomas, with four children (two boys and two girls).