Howard Campbell, Gleaner Writer
David Coore had, arguably, the most stressful job in Jamaica in 1978. The country was in dire economic straits and Coore, the finance minister, came under pressure to resign by the prime minister and his close friend, Michael Manley.
"He wanted a different direction and said I could choose any other position I wanted," Coore told The Sunday Gleaner in a 2009 interview. "I wasn't interested because honestly I thought they (the government) were going too far."
Coore, who died Tuesday at age 86 in the Dominican Republic, resigned from the government in 1978. He accepted a job with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as its Caribbean representative, a move he never regretted.
"It was obvious to me that there were tough times ahead and I wasn't particularly keen on what I saw was going to be a rocky road," Coore said.
His departure from Manley's Cabinet came six years after the People's National Party (PNP) took power in a landslide victory over the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). As PNP chairman, Coore had been one of the architects of the campaign that brought Manley to office.
The two were friends since their days at Jamaica College, and spent holidays at their family homes in Drumblair, St Andrew, and Anchovy, St James, where Coore was from. Coore was inspired to get involved in politics by Manley's father - PNP leader Norman Manley - after returning to Jamaica from Oxford University where he studied law. In 1951, Coore was elected to the National Legislative Council and 10 years later, was one of the persons selected to draft the constitution of independent Jamaica.
In the 1967 general election, Coore was elected to Parliament when he won the West Central St Andrew seat. Five years later, the PNP swept into office for the first time since Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962.
The fiery Manley campaigned on a platform of social change which appealed to most black Jamaicans. For Coore, a middle-class, brown Jamaican, Manley's charisma and reputation as a no-nonsense union leader were a winning combination.
"There was a lot of enthusiasm. The PNP drew massive crowds wherever we went because people were excited about change," he recalled.
As he charted a new, adventurous economic path for Jamaica, Manley appointed his longtime friend minister of finance and planning. Coore said he supported most of Manley's controversial decisions, such as going the route of democratic socialism, establishing close ties with Cuba and calling a state of emergency in late 1976.
But he said by the late 1970s, he had lost the stomach for politics.
"After 1976 we went through a difficult period, we had to go to the IMF (International Monetary Fund) because of the jump in OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) petroleum prices," he explained. "For a oil-importing country like Jamaica that meant tough times."
The economic challenges were not the only factors that contributed to Coore's resignation. The party he joined over 30 years before was falling apart.
The PNP had split into two factions. Coore belonged to the moderates which also included Vivian Blake and Keeble Munn, men who were moulded by Norman Manley.
Then there were the radicals which included mobilization minister D.K. Duncan and construction minister Anthony Spaulding. Some critics warned there were elements in the PNP who wanted Jamaica to go communist.
"I wasn't an extremist like people like D K Duncan, and there was a lot of disagreement over policy," Coore said. "I thought they were going a bit too far in trying to introduce a new set of paradigms."
Coore was replaced as finance minister by Eric Bell. Shortly after he left, Blake, another senior Cabinet minister, also resigned.
When the JLP decimated the PNP in the October 1980 general elections, Coore was not surprised.
"Things had deteriorated so badly it was anybody's game at that time," he said.
While working for the IDB, Coore lived in the Dominican Republic, Barbados and Washington DC. He returned to Jamaica in 1986 and was appointed minister of foreign affairs when the PNP was elected to govern the country in 1989.
Coore also served as attorney general and a consultant to the government on constitutional reform during the 1990s.