Sun | Dec 3, 2023
The Classics

Manley described as “a colossal figure”

Published:Friday | March 17, 2023 | 7:25 AM
Michael Manley
Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and dignitaries escorting the bier along North Street.

Jamaicans from all walks of life were saddened by the news of the passing Michael Manley. Manley made his name is politics and connected with thousands of people throughout his lifetime. He died with his family at his side.

Saturday, March 8, 1997

Nation mourns Manley

THE NATION was in mourning yesterday as Michael Norman Manley, dubbed 'Joshua' by his supporters, died in his 73rd year at his St Andrew home at 11.45 on Thursday night. He wife Glynne and family were at his side.

The former Jamaican prime minister and president of the People’s National Party (PNP) had been ailing with prostate cancer for some time and in the latter stages was confined to bed. A few close friends were allowed to visit him.

Yesterday the Jamaican flag flew at half mast at Gordon House, where Parliament meets, at Jamaica House and at other government buildings. The flag was also at half mast at PNP headquarters on Old Hope Road, Kingston, and at Sabina Park, where both the West Indies and Indian Test cricket teams stood in a minute’s silence, as a mark of respect to Mr Manley, a devoted fan of the game.

Today at Jamaica House a book of condolences will be opened and will remain there until tomorrow. On Monday it will be opened at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on Dominica Drive in New Kingston.

Stalwarts of the PNP were also in mourning yesterday, some wearing full black, others with appropriate symbols. Some had not slept since hearing the news of the death of the popular leader of the Non-Aligned Movement and a vice-president of Socialist International.

The citizens of Barbican, the community where Mr Manley lived, have asked motorists to put on their headlights today in appreciation of what Mr Manley has done for the Jamaican people over the years.

As news of Mr Manley’s death spread yesterday tributes rolled in from leaders of the Trade Union Movement, businesses, civic organisations, institutions and individuals, locally, regionally and from around the world.

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson described his predecessor as “a colossal figure”.

Manley – Jamaica’s fourth prime minister – was educated at Jamaica College and the London School of Economics; in-between, he served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He was a journalist with the BBC in London and with the tabloid Public Opinion in Jamaica before making significant contributions to the labour movement.

Together with his friend and rival, the Rt Hon Hugh Shearer of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, Mr Manley exhibited the organisational and negotiating skills which advanced the lives of countless Jamaican workers.

Making the transition from trade unionism to politics and employing his famous oratorical skills, Mr Manley used his charismatic appeal to lead the PNP to a landslide victory in the 1972 general election.

He was responsible for the ideological divide of Jamaican politics when in 1974 he restated the party’s policy of Democratic Socialism.

It was a move that brought not only political education and social equity for many but also political acrimony; and which, by 1980, when the PNP lost to the Jamaica Labour Party, left Jamaica economically deprived and bereft of many talented sons and daughters and their capital.

Manley and the PNP spent almost nine years in opposition before reclaiming the government in the election of 1989. This time around, Democratic Socialism was in retreat as the party took to heart the capitalist free market approach. Mr Manley gave up active politics in 1992 and went into international consultancy until illness brought his multifaceted innings to a close.

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