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The case against considering Michael Manley for national hero

DORLAN H FRANCIS

Sunday, October 20, 2019

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In a recent article I advocated for the naming of Edward Seaga as a national hero. I also pleaded that the country should not, in an effort to appease, give similar consideration to Michael Manley by falsely equating what he did to the great accomplishments of Edward Seaga. I said that Michael was no hero and today I will tell you why.

To understand Michael Manley is to understand the party he led — the People's National Party. The PNP was launched in September 1938 by bringing groups in the society together under one umbrella with a political mission. The three leading groups were the Jamaica Union of Teachers (forerunner to the Jamaica Teachers' Association), the Jamaica Farmers Union (forerunner to the Jamaica Agricultural Society), and a group called the National Reform Association (NRA). The NRA was a Marxist/Leninist group lead by Kenneth Hill. This group had overwhelming influence in the PNP until 1952 when the four Hs – Kenneth Hill, his brother Frank Hill, Richard Hart and Arthur Henry were expelled from the party. The NRA dominated the executive of the PNP with Ken Hill as a forceful vice-president of the party.

The NRA believed in the tenets of Marxist/Leninism – the violent overthrow of existing order, the use of violence to achieve political outcomes, and the use of deception to mask their true intent. Long before we had fake news, the word “disinformation” was coined by Marxist/Leninists.

When Alexander Bustamante, who was a founding member of the PNP, realised the extent of the communist influence in the PNP he took away himself. Bustamante warned, as best he could, about the communist threat to the nation. This, of course, was strongly denied — as communists are wont to do until they are in full control.

Michael Manley came from a party where deception was a way of life, and he himself seemed to revel in deception. I believe his first act of deception was when he went around Jamaica purporting to have received a rod from Haile Selassie I. I believe that to be a lie, but would readily eat my words if any Comrade anywhere can present photographic evidence of Selassie presenting Michael Manley with a rod. Or any document which can prove that Michael Manley even visited Ethiopia while Selassie was there.

The myth of the rod came about after Manley formed an alliance with the convicted traitor who did 10 years in prison for treason, Claudius Henry, the self-proclaimed “Repairer of the Breach”. Henry was a master strategist. He was adept at “defining and elevating” as he was at “defining and destroying”. He defined Hugh Lawson Shearer as Pharaoh, and that image destroyed Jamaica's most successful prime minister. He at the same time defined and elevated Manley as Joshua, the brother of Moses. The moniker Joshua is probably the most successful moniker in all of political history. Henry thought that, like Moses with his staff, it was fitting that his “brother” Joshua should likewise have a staff, hence the rod. Selassie came into the picture as a way for the PNP to win back the Rastafarian support which they thought they had lost when Edward Seaga masterfully brought Emperor Haile Selassie I to Jamaica in 1966 to the appreciation of many Rastafarians.

So it is my fervent belief that Michael Manley came to power using the biggest ruse in Jamaica's history.

Then, in 1973, Manley's Government saw to the final enactment into law; a Bill that brought sweeping social changes. Most, if not all of those changes were proposed from 1969 by Edward Seaga when he presented his 'Share the Wealth' budget. Manley and the PNP, nevertheless, took credit for those social changes. Anyone who has the slightest understanding of how government works would know that a government does not assume office in March 1972 and by April 1973 was enacting laws bringing sweeping social changes. Note, the National Identification and Registration Act, popularly called the NIDS Bill, has been 40 years in the making, and it is yet to be law.

One of Michael Manley's greatest tricks was his announcement on May 5, 1973 of free education to university. Within a month of his grand announcement Manley was getting an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan of $26.5 million special drawing rights (SDR). Many Jamaicans believe that our first encounter with the IMF was in 1977. Not so! In June 1973 we had a one-year Stand-By Agreement of $26.5 million SDR, and a half of that sum was used before the agreement expired. This agreement was entered into long before the oil shock which came in October 1973 due to the Arab/Israeli war of that year. So if Manley was relying on IMF assistance one month after he announced free education what was he going to use to pay for the free education? Manley implemented a programme which he knew had popular appeal but which he had no money to fund. That to my mind is the definition of a con.

In 1974 the PNP announced that they were returning to their roots as a socialist party. D K Duncan admitted that the “democratic” was placed before the socialism as “sugar coating”. This was borne out in practice. There was no outreach to the Fabian Democratic Socialists of Europe. Instead, radical socialist from Cuba to Mozambique to the Soviet Union were embraced.

In 1974 also, Edward Seaga became the leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), then in Opposition. Seaga was eager to make a name for himself and he embarked on a 1,000 meeting campaign. The PNP and its reaffirmation of democratic socialism gave him a perfect opportunity. Seaga's meetings started with as little as 50 people in attendance. By the time he reached Montego Bay, 50,000 people were coming out to hear him. Manley who had a special branch monitoring these meetings and reporting back to him started to become worried as the meetings size grew. Manley had to respond. Some say even “Spy Robinson” had a role to play here.

Manley, in the meantime, was setting the stage for a state of emergency. Violence was staged against Labourites in St Andrew Southern. It was part of the “scatter dem strategy”. That is how a previously swing seat, and one that Anthony Spaulding won by 102 votes in 1972, is today the PNP largest garrison. This staged violence culminated with the Orange Lane fire of May 19, 1976. In that fire, 10 souls (including two babies who were reportedly plucked from the arms of their mothers and tossed back into the fire) were lost.

Seaga, having ended phase one of his 1,000 meetings campaign on a high note, called a press conference for June 19, 1976. Manley, fearing that Seaga was about to expose the undercurrent of his response, brought the state of emergency — which was originally planned for Monday, June 21, 1976 — forward to the Saturday, June 19, thereby silencing Seaga.

A lot has been said about the atrocities which occurred under that bogus state of emergency, so I will not dwell on it, except to say that it was planned by a five-man committee, none of whom took notes. This was according to Manley testifying before the Smith Commission of Inquiry into that dark period. It is interesting to note that murders increased in 1976 and 1977, the two years which the state of emergency straddled, but fell the following year. It served as a cover to enable the Garrison Gang to finish the cleansing of St Andrew Southern, and was then able to turn some attention to St Andrew South Western.

Among other of Michael Manley's unflattering acts were:

1. Reports of him carrying unsavoury characters Winston “Burry Boy” Blake and George “Feathermop” Spencer on official visit to Cuba. Feathermop behaved so badly he was executed on his return to Jamaica.

2. The Green Bay Massacre occurred while he was at bat. This was a false flag operation carried out by the army. Manley, as minister of defence, had direct control over the army. Why would the army take 10 of Manley's constituents to Green Bay, slaughtered five, and lied about it?

3. The Brigadista Programme buy which an estimated 1,600 of Jamaica's lumpen elements were sent to Cuba, purportedly for construction training, but according to Colin Dennis, a participant in the programme and author of the book The Road Not Taken, the training was about the use of guns, how to rob banks, and how to break captured Comrades out of prison. That sinister programme, no doubt, is one of the contributors to Jamaica's unmanageable crime problems today.

The 1980 General Election is on record as the bloodiest election in Jamaica's history, with the official body count standing at a little under 900. Comrades and PNP apologists like to lay the blame squarely on “both sides”. But who started it and why?

Premier pollster Carl Stone predicted that the JLP would have won at least 43 of the 60 seats. Why would such a party need to resort to violence? Why was there the need to burn the Eventide Home, killing 153 old and infirm ladies? What would that do for a party that is already projected to win at least 43 seats? Nothing!

However a party that lives a life of deception could possibly have benefited if it could get the people to believe another con. The hope was that the people would have believed the usual lie and blamed the opponents. Maurice Stephenson and Garth Bloomfield were shot to death while they cowered under a bed in Top Hill. The often overlooked opinion is that those shots were meant for Cecil July, who was the JLP candidate for the area, and who was believed to be the one cowering under the bed.

Michael Manley ruined the economic foundation of a once-prosperous country. And he inculcated in a once proud and orderly society a culture of dependence and disorder. Heroes build countries and make them better. Heroes bleed for their country, they do not watch while their country bleed for them. Not only does Manley not deserves to be a hero, he is lucky he was not hauled off to The Hague to explain the Green Bay Massacre and other questionable killings of innocent Jamaicans which occurred on his watch.

Consideration for hero status is as much about what he didn't do in matters concerning the nation, as well as the noted things he did.

Dorlan H Francis is a personal financial adviser and author. Among his books is The Economic and Financial Crisis of 2007 - What Caused it : How to Avoid a Repeat. Send comments to the Observer or dhfken@hotmail.com.


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