Andrew Holness said Ja paying dearly for Michael Manley misadventures. Let’s fact check
Michael Norman Manley ON OCC (10 December 1924 – 6 March 1997) was a Jamaican politician who served as the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1980 and from 1989 to 1992. Manley championed a democratic socialist program. According to opinion polls, he remains one of Jamaica’s most popular prime ministers
Entry into politics
When his father was elected premier of Jamaica in 1955, Manley resisted entering politics, not wanting to be seen as capitalizing on his family name. However, in 1962, he accepted an appointment to the Senate of the Parliament of Jamaica. He won election to the Jamaican House of Representatives for the Central Kingston constituency in 1967.
After his father’s retirement in 1969, Manley was elected leader of the People’s National Party, defeating Vivian Blake. He then served as leader of the Opposition, until his party won in the general elections of 1972.
In the election of 1972, Manley defeated the unpopular incumbent Prime Minister, Hugh Shearer, as his People’s National Party swept to a landslide victory with 37 of 53 seats.
He instituted a series of socio-economic reforms that produced mixed results. Although he was a Jamaican from an elite family, Manley’s successful trade union background helped him to maintain a close relationship with the country’s poor majority, and he was a dynamic, popular leader.Unlike his father, who had a reputation for being formal and businesslike, the younger Manley moved easily among people of all strata and made Parliament accessible to the people by abolishing the requirement for men to wear jackets and ties to its sittings. In this regard he started a fashion revolution, often preferring the Kariba suit, a type of formal bush jacket suit with trousers and worn without a shirt and tie.
Under Manley, Jamaica established a minimum wage for all workers, including domestic workers. In 1974, Manley proposed 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 PNP government in 1974 also formed the Jamaica Movement for the Advancement of Literacy (JAMAL), which administered adult education programs with the goal of involving 100,000 adults a year.
Land reform expanded under his administration. Historically, land tenure in Jamaica has been rather inequitable. Project Land Lease (introduced in 1973), attempted an integrated rural development approach, providing tens of thousands of small farmers with land, technical advice, inputs such as fertilizers, and access to credit. An estimated 14 percent of idle land was redistributed through this program, much of which had been abandoned during the post-war urban migration or purchased by large bauxite companies.
The minimum voting age was lowered to 18 years, while equal pay for women was introduced. Maternity leave was also introduced, while the government outlawed the stigma of illegitimacy. The Masters and Servants Act was abolished, and a Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act provided workers and their trade unions with enhanced rights. The National Housing Trust was established, providing “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.
Subsidised meals, transportation and uniforms for schoolchildren from disadvantaged backgrounds were introduced, together with free education at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. Special employment programmes were also launched, together with programmes designed to combat illiteracy. Increases in pensions and poor relief were carried out, along with a reform of local government taxation, an increase in youth training, an expansion of day care centres.and an upgrading of hospitals.
A worker’s participation programme was introduced, together with a new mental health law and the family court. Free health care for all Jamaicans was introduced, while health clinics and a paramedical system in rural areas were established. Various clinics were also set up to facilitate access to medical drugs. Spending on education was significantly increased, while the number of doctors and dentists in the country rose. Project Lend Lease, an agricultural programme designed to provide rural labourers and smallholders with more land through tenancy, was introduced, together with a National Youth Service Programme for high school graduates to teach in schools, vocational training, and the literacy programme, comprehensive rent and price controls, protection for workers against unfair dismissal, subsidies (in 1973) on basic food items, and the automatic recognition of unions in the workplace.