Prime Ministers of Jamaica - Part II

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 11th Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

The Second Part in the series, Prime Ministers focusing on the 1970s - 1980s

Part Two

This is the Second Part of a series on Prime Ministers of Jamaica.

Part One is an overview of all Nine Prime Ministers, with focus on The First, Second and Third men who held the office.

This article deals with the Fourth and Fifth, Michael Manley, who held the office from 1972 until 1989, Edward Seaga, who was Prime Minister from 1980 to 1989 and Michael Manley who regained power in 1989 until he stepped down in 1992.

Part Three covers the incumbency of P.J. Patterson, Portia Simpson-Miller, Bruce Golding, Andrew Holness, and the Re-election of Portia Simpson-Miller in 2011.

The Manley Years

There are those who hold degrees and high office in Jamaica today due to the fact that Michael Manley made education; including tertiary education; free.

There are those whose faces contort in mindless hate when his name is mentioned and begin to shriek like stuck pigs.

Michael Manley, the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica is someone who engenders strong feelings.

When he came to Power

Jamaica was extremely radicalised in the late 60s, early 70s. The Prime Minister, Hugh Shearer, a person no one had voted for, was extremely conservative and completely oblivious to the sentiments of the People.

Effected by the Pan-African/Black Power movements, by the Student protests, by the Cuban Revolution and aftermath, the prejudice shown to RastafarI and the over-reactions turned people against Shearer.

"Shoot First.." was Shearer's exhortation to the Police during the riots, and the country was being torn apart with racial, economic and social divides; a pale imitation to Apartheid in South Africa.

Michael Manley came to office in 1972.

At the time there were 53 seats in Parliament; (today there are 63). The PNP took 37 of those seats, leaving the JLP with 16; a vast majority, capable of passing legislation with a 2/3rds majority; hence the PNP was in control.

The Manley Years

As Michael Manley came to power he instituted a wide series of socio-economic reforms.

Although from a prominent and wealthy family he understood the plight of the poor.
He moved easily in all strata of society, and started a fashion revolution, preferring the Kariba suit which was a type of formal bush or safari jacket with trousers and worn without a shirt and tie.

A minimum wage for all workers, including domestic workers was established.. In 1974, Manley came free education from primary school to university.

The introduction of universally free secondary education was a major step in removing the institutional barriers to private sector and preferred government jobs that required secondary diplomas.

The Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), which administered adult education programs with the goal of involving 100,000 adults a year.

Other legislation:

The lowering of the minimum voting age to 18 years.
The introduction of equal pay for women.
The introduction of maternity leave.
The outlawing of the stigma of illegitimacy.
The abolition of Masters and Servants Act.
A Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act which provided workers and their trade unions with enhanced rights.
The establishment of the National Housing Trust, which provided “the means for most employed people to own their own homes,” and greatly stimulated housing construction, with more than 40,000 houses built between 1974 and 1980.
The introduction of subsidised meals, transportation and uniforms for schoolchildren from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The introduction of special employment programmes.
Increases in pensions and poor relief.
The introduction of the family court.
The introduction of free health care for all Jamaicans.
The establishment of health clinics and a paramedical system in rural areas.
The introduction of a National Youth Service Programme for high school graduates to teach in schools, vocational training, and the literacy programme.
The introduction of comprehensive rent and price controls.
The introduction of subsidies on basic food items
The introduction of protection for workers against unfair dismissal.

He was able to pay for these reforms by instituting a Bauxite Levy which brought millions into Jamaica but annoyed American Capitalists.


Jamaica's close relationship to Cuba, its position in the vanguard of the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, it's deep involvement in the unaligned movements, upset the United States.

Manley was a vocal democratic socialist which the United States read as "Communist".

The 'underthrow' of Michael Manley began shortly after he was re-elected in 1976 where the PNP won 47 of the 60 seats in Parliment with a voter turnout of 85.2%.

The CIA's policy of Underthrow consists of a media blitz in which the word 'Communism' was defined as Totalitarian and used as a synonym for Socialism. and a sudden set of 'shortages' of various non-spoilable products such as soap powder for washing, and the dietary staples of rice, cornmeal, tinned milk, and flour.

The Election was extremely violent as the JLP under Edward Seaga was well armed and the PNP responded in kind and over 1500 people died 'fighting politics'.

In 1980, with the devaluation of the Jamaican Dollar; moving from $1.20 = Ja 1.00 to $1.00 US = Ja 2.00 (unofficially), the shortages, and the support of the United States for Edward Seaga, the PNP was voted out of office in 1980, gaining only 9 of the 60 seats to the JLPs 51.

The Seaga Years

Edward Seaga came to office with the support of the United States. He was one of the first leaders to visit Ronald Regan.

Seaga supported the collapse of the Marxist regime in Grenada and the subsequent US-led invasion of that island in October 1983.

Appreciating that there was internal divisions in the PNP, Seaga called snap elections thinking he would easily gain another Mandate.

The PNP decided not to contest, hence the One Party Parliament began.

The fear Jamaicans had been imbued with during the anti-PNP campaign of a One Party Totalitarian regime was the JLP's and Seaga's downfall.

Seaga lost his US support when he was unable to deliver on his early promises of removing the bauxite levy. Articles attacking Seaga appeared in the US media and foreign investors left the country.

There was rioting in 1987 and 1988 and complaints of governmental incompetence in the wake of the devastation of the island by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.


During the years out of power the PNP held forums which garned great support. The People's National Party Women's Movement, (PNP-WM) and the Youth Organisation, (PNP-YO) were constantly in the news speaking up for the people.

The media turned against Seaga, called him a 'One Man Band' and there were highly publicised splits in the JLP.

The PNP won 45 of the 60 seats in the 1989 elections with a voter turnout of 78.4%
And Michael Manley was again Prime Minister.

End of Section Two

The First Michael Manley Period was the most radical and exciting in Jamaica's History.

The social changes were enormous. The Upper Class no longer held suzerainty over education and access as Education was of right and admission to University was on merit.

This meant that the helper's child might very well gain a place at University where the Lady of the House's spoiled darling did not.

Money was no longer the measure and most people dressed down, drove old cars, and did not wear much jewelry. The police could just as easily take lunch at the Pegasus as the millionaire.

This was reversed during Seaga's years where 'you are what you own', and ostentation became the order of the day, with expensive cars filling the roads, gold cow chains hanging from necks, and the poor slowly pushed out of University, out of the better High Schools, as the rich took their place.

Jamaica reverted to a Class society that was firmly in place when the PNP returned to power.


Cuba, Education, Jamaica, Law, Michael Manley, Pnp, Socialism

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author avatar ittech
12th Jan 2012 (#)

thanks for share

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author avatar kaylar
12th Jan 2012 (#)

you are very welcom

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