Manley, Michael Norman (1924–1997)

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Manley, Michael Norman (1924–1997)

Michael Norman Manley was born in 1924, the youngest son of Jamaican "national hero" Norman Manley and Jamaican sculptor Edna Manley. He was educated at the best schools in Jamaica and then at the London School of Economics. Faced with a serious challenge from the Marxist Left, Norman Manley asked his son to return to reorganize the National Workers Union, the fundamental base of the social democratic People's National Party (PNP). This he did with great success, introducing Jamaicans to his extraordinary charisma and organizational skills. In 1969 Manley replaced his father as head of the PNP, and in 1972 he led the party to a resounding victory over the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP). In 1974 Manley shifted his rhetoric and his policies to the Left. A new platform of "democratic socialism" included new levies on the vital U.S.-owned bauxite industry as well as a decided reorientation of foreign policy from Washington, D.C. to Communist Cuba. Another PNP landslide electoral victory in 1976 encouraged Manley to accelerate this leftist orientation, with unfortunate results. By 1977 serious petrol and food shortages led to widespread political violence. Manley claimed that there was a U.S.-led "destabilization" plan behind the riots and discontent, a claim he never documented. What he faced was the continued flight of capital (both domestic and foreign), the virtual collapse of the tourist industry, and hoarding and speculation that made life expensive and difficult; all of these eroded his own and the PNP's popularity. In 1980 they were soundly defeated by the pro-business JLP. Manley made a comeback in 1989 with a decidedly more moderate program. Faced with a serious recurring illness, Manley resigned in 1992, and died in 1997.

See alsoJamaica; Manley, Norman Washington.


Huber-Stephens, Evelyne, and John D. Stephens. Democratic Socialism in Jamaica: The Political Movement and Social Transformation in Dependent Capitalism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Payne, Anthony J. Politics in Jamaica. London: Hurst, 1988.

                                Anthony P. Maingot