Wed | Nov 14, 2018

Manley's death marks end of era

Published:Wednesday | July 31, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Douglas Manley
Troy Caine
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Troy Caine, GUEST COLUMNIST

THE PASSING of Dr Douglas Manley is the end of an era in Jamaica's politics. The era had symbolically ended in 1993 when Douglas had actually quit politics, and when, with his more flamboyant younger brother, Michael, and their dad, Norman, the Manley family had accumulatedly dominated and influenced Jamaica's politics for some 49 years since adult suffrage in 1944.

Quietly and without flourish, Douglas, at 91, had outlived both his dad and his brother.

Born in London, England, on May 30, 1922 to National Hero Norman Manley and his wife Edna (the year after their marriage), Douglas Ralph Manley grew up in Jamaica and was educated here, before degrees acquired from Columbia, London and Liverpool universities transformed him into a noted sociologist, university lecturer and political scientist. This included a six-year stint in Africa (1964-1970) at the University College of Rhodesia & Nyasaland, and a United Nations Commission in Africa.

However, although Gary Spaulding in his piece on Sunday (Gleaner, July 28) would like us to believe that, "like his father, Douglas sprinted to records in the 100-yard dash at Boys' Champs for Jamaica College", the reality is that unlike his father and brother, Douglas never entered the halls of JC at all.

Norman was indeed a great JC champion athlete, but his eldest son went to the best boys' school in Jamaica - Munro College. It was at the 1941 Boys' Champs that Munro's Douglas Manley trounced his two popular rivals, Leroy 'Coco' Brown of Wolmer's and Herb McKenley of Calabar, into second and third place, respectively, streaking to 10 seconds flat in the Class One 100 yards.

stellar event

It was the stellar event of the meet and equalled the record set by his father in the 1911 Champs. The also-rans included two KC boys, K. Douglas and G. Prescod, and the only JC athlete qualified to participate, S.W. James, never did, because of injury.

Interestingly, the record had been equalled twice before - first in 1925 by Cornwall's Leicester W. Foote and then in 1940 by 'Coco' Brown, before it was finally erased after 41 years in 1952 by JC's Frank Hall with 9.9 seconds. Brown's 1941 consolation against Manley came in the Class One 220 yards when he turned the tables with a blistering record dash of 22.1 seconds.

Douglas' first venture into politics in 1972 when Michael led the People's National Party to an impressive national victory seemed successful at first when he was declared the winner in the South Manchester seat against JLP incumbent, Arthur Williams Sr by 94 votes.

overturned victory

I can still recall Michael waiting anxiously on the outcome of the recount to make Douglas his minister of youth and community development in the new Cabinet. But two years later, on February 26, 1974, the Supreme Court, in a ruling by Chief Justice Kenneth Smith, overturned his victory (and upheld Williams' election petition) on the grounds that ballots polled for Williams were tampered with and originally deemed rejected when they were not.

So, Williams was declared the winner by 35 votes and Douglas continued in the ministry as a senator.

At that point, Douglas Manley had become the second PNP member to be unseated by court order in the same constituency after a general election.

Anyway, Dr Manley came back strong in 1976 to take the seat from Williams by more than 2,600 votes, but ducked out of the 1980 contest and escaped what certainly would have been a second whipping from Williams. He returned in 1989 to retain the seat by more than 3,000 votes when the JLP tsunami had passed and the tide returned to the PNP, still led by Michael, whose Damascus-road experience after the sorrowful seventies led to a more conservative political climate.

In his 10 years as an elected member of the House, Dr Manley served as minister of youth and community development; minister of health; minister of state for mining and energy; and minister of youth, culture and community development. His main interests were theatre, sports and young people, and in the early 1960s, he had even served as a boxing judge for the Jamaica Boxing Board.

Unfortunately, with the passing of Dr Douglas Manley, the Manley brand and its esteemed role, relevance and reputation in the scope of Jamaica's modern political history also appears to be expired, since no other Manley from the younger generation seems inclined to pick up the baton.

Troy Caine is a political historian and analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and trodencorp@gmail.com.