Michael Norman Manley ON (December 10, 1924 – March 6, 1997) was the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica (1972 – 1980, 1989 – 1992).
The second son of Jamaica's Premier Norman Manley and Jamaican artist Edna Manley, Michael Manley was a charismatic figure who became the leader of the Jamaican People's National Party a few months before his father's death in 1969.
He attended Jamaica College and served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during World War II. In 1945, he enrolled at the London School of Economics. In 1949, he graduated, and returned to Jamaica to serve as an editor and columnist for the newspaper Public Opinion. At around the same time, he became involved in the trade union movement, and became a negotiator for the National Worker's Union. In August, 1953, he became a full-time official of that union.
When his father was elected chief minister of Jamaica in 1955, Michael resisted the idea of entering politics, not wanting to be seen as capitalizing on his family name. He eventually relented, however, and accepted an appointment to the Senate of the Parliament of Jamaica in 1962. He later won a very close election to the Jamaican House of Representatives in 1967. After his father's retirement, he became the leader of the People's National Party in 1969. In that capacity, he served as leader of the Opposition until his party won in the general elections of 1972.
Manley soundly beat the unpopular incumbent Prime Minister Hugh Shearer (his cousin) in the election of 1972 after running on a platform of "better must come," giving "power to the people" and leading "a government of truth."
Manley instituted a series of socio-economic reforms that yielded mixed success. Though he was a biracial Jamaican from an elite family, Manley's successful trade union background helped him to maintain a close relationship with the country's poor, black majority, and he was a dynamic, popular leader. Unlike his father, who had a reputation for being formal and businesslike, the younger Manley moved easily among people of all strata and made Parliament accessible to the people by abolishing the requirement for men to wear jackets and ties to its sittings. In this regard he started a fashion revolution, often preferring the Kariba suit which was a type of formal bush or safari jacket with trousers and worn without a shirt and tie.
Manley and his wife Beverly (formerly Beverly Anderson) with US president Jimmy Carter in 1977.
Manley developed close friendships with several foreign leaders, foremost of whom were Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Olof Palme of Sweden, Pierre Trudeau of Canada and Fidel Castro of Cuba. With Cuba just 145 km (90 miles) north of Jamaica, he strengthened diplomatic relations between the two island nations, much to the dismay of United States policymakers.
At the 1979 meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement, Manley strongly pressed for the development of what was called a natural alliance between the Non-aligned movement and the Soviet Union to battle imperialism. In his speech he said, "All anti-imperialists know that the balance of forces in the world shifted irrevocably in 1917 when there was a movement and a man in the October Revolution, and Lenin was the man." Manley saw Cuba and the Cuban model as having much to offer both Jamaica and the world.
In diplomatic affairs, Manley believed in respecting the different systems of government of other countries and not interfering in their internal affairs.
Manley was the Prime Minister when Jamaica experienced a significant escalation of its political culture of violence. Supporters of his opponent Edward Seaga and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and Manley's People's National Party (PNP) engaged in a bloody struggle which began before the 1976 election and ended when Seaga was installed as Prime Minister in 1980. While the violent political culture was not invented by Seaga or Manley, and had its roots in conflicts between the parties from as early as the beginning of the two-party system in the 1940s, political violence reached unprecedented levels in the 1970s. Indeed, the two elections accompanied by the greatest violence were those (1976 and 1980) in which Seaga was trying to unseat Manley.
Violence flared in January 1976 in anticipation of elections. A State of Emergency was declared by Manley's party the PNP in June and 500 people, including some prominent members of the JLP, were accused of trying to overthrow the government and were detained, without charges, in a specially created prison at the Up-Park Camp military headquarters . Elections were held on 15 December that year, while the state of emergency was still in effect. The PNP was returned to office. The State of Emergency continued into the next year. Extraordinary powers granted the police by the Suppression of Crime Act of 1974 continued to the end of the 1980s.
Violence continued to blight political life in the 1970s. Gangs armed by both parties fought for control of urban constituencies. In the election year of 1980 around 800 Jamaicans were killed. While the murder rate in Jamaica has long been high, Jamaicans were particularly shocked by the violence at that time.
In the 1980 elections, Seaga's JLP won and he became Prime Minister.
As Leader of the Opposition Manley became an outspoken critic of the new conservative administration. He strongly opposed intervention in Grenada after Prime Minister Maurice Bishop was overthrown and executed. Immediately after committing Jamaican troops to Ronald Reagan's invasion of Grenada in 1983, Seaga called a snap election – two years early – on the pretext that Dr Paul Robertson, General Secretary of the PNP, had called for his resignation. Manley, who may have been taken by surprise by the maneuver, led his party in a boycott of the elections, and so the Jamaica Labour Party won all seats in parliament against only marginal opposition in six of the sixty electoral constituencies.
During his period of opposition in the 1980s, Manley, a compelling speaker, travelled extensively, speaking to audiences around the world. He taught a graduate seminar and gave a series of public lectures at Columbia University in New York.
In the 1980s a Judicial Enquiry, the Smith Commission, was held on the 1976 State of Emergency. Manley admitted that he declared it on evidence that was manufactured to help him win the forthcoming election.
In 1986 Manley travelled to Britain and visited Birmingham. He attended a number of venues including the Afro Caribbean Resource Centre in Winson Green and Digbeth Civic Hall. The mainly black audiences turned out en masse to hear Manley speak.
By 1989 Manley had softened his socialist rhetoric, explicitly advocating a role for private enterprise. With the fall of the Soviet Union, he also ceased his support for a variety of international causes. In the election of that year he campaigned on a very moderate platform. Seaga's administration had fallen out of favor – both with the electorate and the US – and the PNP was re-elected handily.
Manley's second term was short and largely uneventful. In 1992, citing health reasons he stepped down as Prime Minister and PNP leader. His former Deputy Prime Minister, Percival Patterson, assumed both offices.
Michael Manley had 5 children: Rachel Manley, Joseph Manley, Sarah Manley, Natasha Manley and David Manley.
Manley wrote seven books, including the award-winning A History of West Indies Cricket, in which he discussed the links between cricket and West Indian nationalism.
Michael Manley died of prostate cancer on 6 March 1997, the same day as another West Indian politician, Cheddi Jagan of Guyana.
Henke, Holger 2000. "Between Self-Determination and Dependency. Jamaica's Foreign Relations, 1972-1989." Kingston: University of the West Indies Press.
Levi, Darrell E. 1990. Michael Manley: The Making of A Leader. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.
ref: http://www.oomgallery.net/gallery.asp?location=36&c=251 / Photographs of Michael Manley visit to Birmingham England 1986 / OOM Gallery
Image ref: http://www.caricom.org/jsp/projects/personalities/michael_norman.jsp?menu=projects
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