Troy Caine GUEST COLUMNIST
IN RESPONSE to Ms Sonia King's request in The Gleaner, of Friday, September 20, 2013, I am confirming that Dr Ivan Lloyd was indeed the People's National Party (PNP) opposition leader from December 1944 to December 1949, concurrent with Norman Manley's role as president of the party, which he led since its foundation in 1938.
But it is also a fact that two decades later, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) had its own leadership split when Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer were elevated to prime minister status without the official mantle of party leadership, which was still held by leader (for life), Sir Alexander Bustamante.
The precedence that emerged so early in our modern political system which established Dr Lloyd as the first opposition leader in the first administration of the House of Representatives under adult suffrage was actually a consequence of the PNP's dismal performance in that first general election won by the JLP in 1944 and in which the PNP secured only five of the 32 seats.
That tally excluded Party President Norman Manley, who bit the dust in his first bid to win a seat in the House, thus leading to the elevation of Dr Lloyd, the most senior of the victorious five as the official leader of the PNP parliamentary group.
The first five PNP members of the House of Representatives elected in '44 were: Dr Ivan Lloyd (East St Ann); Florizel Glasspole (East Kingston & Port Royal); William D. Linton (North West Clarendon); Norman Sinclair (North Manchester); and Wendell Benjamin (South Manchester). Their numbers were increased to six when independent member, Frederick L.B. ('Slave Boy') Evans joined the PNP shortly after the election, but went back down to five in June 1945 when Benjamin was unseated by court order after a series of magisterial recounts, and the seat was awarded to the JLP's Lawton Bloomfield.
Manley's defeat by 395 votes in the (old) constituency of East St Andrew by an electro-dermatologist, the JLP's Edward H. Fagan, became the greatest shock of the elections. But he was not alone. Other fallen stars of the PNP, including Noel Nethersole, Ken Hill, Wills O. Isaacs, Rudolph Burke, Edith Dalton-James and Dr Linden Leslie left the party's representation rather scanty in that first parliamentary administration. In 1949, when the JLP narrowly won again, Manley defeated Fagan and became, for the first time, leader of the Opposition, which had swollen to 13 members.
Dr Lloyd was probably chosen in '44 because, up to that time, he was the one in the PNP with the most experience as an elected political representative, having been the first party member to be elected (before 1944) as the Member of the Legislative Council (MLC) for St Ann in a by-election in 1942, following the death of incumbent MLC, Canute Altamont Little, on March 25, 1942.
Originally a native of Manchester, Dr Ivan Stewart Lloyd became involved with the parish of St Ann from 1933 when he was posted there as the government medical officer at Claremont and served in that capacity until 1940 when he went into private practice and remained there.
His fame and popularity as a politician were actually preceded and enhanced by his outstanding career as an effective medical practitioner who, in the 1930s, played a major role in the eradication of a cholera outbreak in the parish. A founding member of the PNP, Dr Lloyd went on to become the party's first minister of education when they attained state power in 1955 (and the minister under whom the Common Entrance Examination was conceptualised), and to serve as an elected member in Parliament for more than 24 years until his resignation from politics undefeated in 1969 at age 66.
second leadership split
The second incident of leadership split occurred in the JLP in the period between 1967 and 1972 when Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer became successive prime ministers of Jamaica as first deputy leaders of the party, at a time when Bustamante, having retired from active politics, remained as leader of the party and until 1974. To their credit, both men (like Dr Lloyd) fully deserved their elevation, having up to that time given years of yeoman service to the party, but had to contend with the anomaly of the occurrence.
Since then, all party leaders in both major parties have served simultaneously as prime ministers or leaders of the Opposition in the various political scenarios, and this is a trend not likely to be changed after the impending JLP contest between Audley Shaw and Andrew Holness.
The two previous occasions of split in leadership were largely influenced by unavoidable political circumstances. I doubt very much whether there would be sufficient discord among the elected JLP members to pose a deterrent to the winner as party leader not being overwhelmingly supported also as leader of the Opposition, to demonstrate party unity and a genuine sense of purpose for the challenges ahead. A move like that against the consensus vote of the delegates is just not on the cards.
What promises to be far more interesting will be the role of the loser, and as it relates to the function, organisation and structure of the party and its preparation for the next two national elections which are due in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
Troy Caine is a political historian, analyst and commentator. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.