Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Manley's private conversations with wife released on tapes ... Raw, uncut versions embargoed for 20 years

Published:Friday | June 30, 2017 | 6:00 AMChristopher Serju
Glynne Manley (right) presents the Michael Manley tapes to Winsome Hudson (centre), national librarian, and Monique Forgie-Scott, manager, collections development, National Library of Jamaica, yesterday.

The two-decades-long embargo on the raw, unedited version of private conversations between former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley and wife Glynne is intended to protect persons, some of whom are still actively involved in politics. Though there is no defamation in the tapes, some of the things that Manley said to her are "sensitive" and could have a negative impact on fragile reputations.

A digitised version of the edited material culled from cassette recordings and CD-ROM was deposited with the National Library of Jamaica at 12 East Street, downtown Kingston, yesterday, where the original recordings are also in safe-keeping.

Christine Randle, managing director of Ian Randle Publishers, which spearheaded the venture, explained the rationale for the embargo on the audio material, which was edited by Professor Tony Bogues, who was absent.

"When I said edited, he's really abridging some of the material, which is going to be published for public consumption immediately. Mr Manley was quite frank in his reflections, and as such, it was deemed necessary by all of us involved that an embargo had to be put on the material becoming public," she explained.

"The public won't be able to listen to the full uncut, unedited version for 20 years. Some of the material, some of the statements are sensitive or could be considered sensitive to persons, perhaps, who are still in public life. There is nothing libellous or defamatory, but taking into consideration all sensibilities and persons' reputations and you know how politics run in Jamaica, right?"

Winsome Hudson, outgoing national librarian, explained that the persons interested in the edited content would not be able to use the Access to Information Act to satisfy their curiosity since the conversations were private and took place after Prime Minister Manley had retired from politics.

Manley, who served as prime minister from 1972-80, and again from 1989 until 1992 when ill health forced him into retirement, died in 1997 from prostate cancer. The audio recordings - appropriately titled 'In My Own Voice: Michael Manley in Conversation' - were done by Glynne, his fifth wife, and are said to encapsulate the reflective side of the firebrand politician.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com