Prime Ministers of Jamaica - Part III

kaylarStarred Page By kaylar, 11th Jan 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
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The third part of the series on the Prime Ministers of Jamaica


This is the final of three articles on the Nine people who held the office of Prime Minister in Jamaica.

Part One after listing the Nine who had held the office of Prime Minister covering the first ten years of Independence; 1962 -l 1972.

Part II covers the exciting period 1972 - 1989 and focuses on two men; Michael Manley of the PNP and Edward Seaga of the JLP.

Part III explores the years1989 until 2011, through the incumbency of Michael Manley, P.J. Patterson, Portia Simpson-Miller, Bruce Golding, Andrew Holness and the return of Portia Simpson Miller to the office of Prime Minister.

1989 - 2007

The Peoples National Party Party which won the election in 1989 was a pale shadow of what it had been leaving office in 1980.

The radicalism was gone, and although not as good Capitalists as the Jamaican Labour Party, there was no attempt to return to the socialism of the 1970s,

Schools were no longer free and attendance at University was extremely expensive. Health care was not free, nor were there government subsidies.

However, the mood was upbeat, the cabinet appointments were useful and the country entered the 1990s with a sense of success.

The Succession

Rumours had abounded in 1986 that Michael Manley was dying. They were dismissed by the PNP, and Michael Manley took the oath of office in 1989.

In 1992, after holding Office for almost three years, Manley announced to a meeting of PNP supporters that he would be resigning, then made a televised address to the public.

The two candidates for the office of President of the People's National Party were Portia Simpson and Percival Patterson.

P.J. Patterson won the 'in house' election became President of the PNP and Prime Minister. After a year he went for and received his own mandate in 1993.

The People's National Party won 52 of the 60 seats. with voter turnout at 67.4%.

The fear of Totalitarianism imbued by the Jamaica Labour Party during the bloody election campaigns of 1972 and 1976 would prevent them ever regaining office after their One Party Parliament.

P.J. Patterson became the longest serving Prime Minister. He won the 1997 and 2002 elections, holding the office for 14 years. In 2006 he stepped down..

Time for a Change

In 2006 P.J. Patterson stepped down and after an unpleasant battle for Leadership, between Portia Simpson-Miller and Peter Phillips, Portia Simpson-Miller became Party Leader and Prime Minister.

She was the First Woman to hold those offices.

The JLP had replaced its leader, Edward Seaga with Bruce Golding. Golding had been the Deputy Leader until he left the JLP to form his own Party, the National Democratic Movement.

As the NDM won no seat during its existence, and it was clear that the public would never re-elect Edward Seaga due to his One Party Parliament of 1983 - 1989, Golding was invited to return to the JLP with the promise of leadership.

He campaigned against Portia Simpson-Miller and the PNP successfully and the JLP gained power in the very close election of 2007 which, after recounts had the JLP winning 33 seats to the PNP's 27 out of 60 seats.

This caused a redrawing of borders to ensure that there would be an uneven number of seats as the possibility of a 30/30 split had almost happened

Golding Years

Entering office in September 2007, Bruce Golding adopted a policy of indicating past PNP failures and scandals.

While prices increased, services decreased and the 'free health care' was an empty promise as there were no free drugs or procedures, the JLP tried to distract the public with past Scandals.

Attempts were made to link Jamaica's economic crisis, which had it return to borrowing from the IMF, (such relationship ended by PJ Patterson) but most people didn't 'buy' it.

Jamaica had very little money in American banks, and most of the actual tourism revenue was from the upscale visitor, not the 'all-inclusive'.

The Manatt/Dudus Scandal.

It was on the 16th day of March, 2010 when The Scandal was first exploded at a sitting of Parliament.

Opposition member Dr. Peter Phillips, holding a computer printout, referred to a contractual arrangement between the Government of Jamaica and a United States law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips.

According to information copied from it's webpage, the American firm was to lobby the US Government on a dispute between the two countries which had arisen as a result of the Jamaican Government's refusal to sign an extradition request for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

Dudus was wanted in the US on charges relating to narcotics, arms and ammunition trafficking.

At first the Golding Government denied all knowledge, but as time passed it became evident that as early as August of 2009 the request was made and Golding sought every possible way to refuse it.

Dudus was the 'Don' for the Tivoli Gardens Constituency of Golding, and had been his Campaign manager.

During the next months the Golding Administration refused to sign the extradition request on the basis that the evidence was obtained contrary to Jamaican laws.

Further, Golding claimed that that Manatt, Phelps & Phillips was, at first, not contracted at all, then claimed it was hired to represent the JLP, not the Government in May of 2010.

On the 17th of May 2010 Golding finally spoke to the Nation concerning what was called the Manatt/Dudus Affair.

Following the televised address, supporters of Christopher Coke began erecting barricades to the entrances of the Tivoli Gardens Community.

On 23 May 2010 police stations in and around downtown Kingston came under gunfire, and two were set ablaze and later burnt to the ground allegedly by supporters of Coke.

Golding initiated a state of public emergency limited to the parishes of Kingston and St Andrew, which gave the security forces extraordinary powers.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Jamaica Defense Force mounted a joint operation to enter the community, with the objectives being to arrest Coke, clear the blockades, restore law and order and recover illegal guns believed to be in the community.

It is claimed the security forces met with armed resistance . The siege lasted for several days and left 73 civilians (official admission) and 3 members of the security forces (2 JCF and 1 JDF) dead.

The Inquiry

Due to the outrage of the Public an Inquiry was held in 2011.

The Government members who were questioned proved to be incompetent or corrupt, such as the Minister of National Security, Dwight Nelson smirklingly claiming; "I can't recall" when asked a question.

The Attorney General, Dorothy Lightbourne was subsequently resigned, and the public was anxious for elections to be held so that they could vote Golding out of office.


Bruce Golding, finally realising that the Jamaican public had no confidence in his leadership and that the JLP would be defeated at the polls, stepped down and was succeeded by Andrew Holness, a young man who had been Minister of Education.

Andrew Holness was the youngest person to become Prime Minister in Jamaica's history. He took office October 23, 2011 and virtually began his election campaign.

The campaign was coarse and insulting and focused on Portia Simpson-Miller while trying to elevate Andrew Holness as a Man of the People.

2011 - 2012

As is usual, the Jamaica Labour Party misread the sentiments of the people.

Just as Shearer could have adopted a repressive stand, as Seaga could preside over a One Party Parliament, Holness could attack Portia Simpson-Miller as being uneducated and uncouth.

Of course more than 60% of the Jamaican public is unedcuated and about 80% could be considered uncouth.

Every Ad the JLP ran which insulted Portia Simpson-Miller lost them more votes.

On Election day, 29 December 2011, the polls closed at just after 5 pm. By 7 pm during the preliminary counting it seemed clear that the PNP had won, and only after recounting was it learned that they held 42 seats in a now 63 Seat Parliament.

Portia Simpson-Miller

Portia Simpson Miller was again sworn in as Prime Minister on the 4th of January 2011.

She appointed a very large Cabinet of twenty persons, the largest in history, but it seemed that the situation at the various Ministries was such that intensive investigation needed to be done.

In her speech she mentioned the removal of Queen Elizabeth II as the Head of Government and the creation of a Republic.

In August Jamaica will celebrate it's 50th anniversary of an Independent State.


Andrew Holness, Bruce Golding, Edward Seaga, Jamaica, Michael Manley, Pj Patterson, Portia Simpson

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I am passionate about history, culture, current events, science and law

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author avatar M G Singh
12th Jan 2012 (#)

Excellent article. Very informative

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author avatar kaylar
12th Jan 2012 (#)

Thank you Mdan, you're very welcome

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