Delano Franklyn’s pitiable and insult ridden response to my column in response to Ian Boyne’s Michael Manley praise and worship column the week before is unbecoming for someone who chairs the Michael Manley Foundation.
MANLEY A GREAT TALKER
In early 2007, fresh out of University, while working in JLP’s PR and Advertising campaign office, a prominent JLP supporter and donor handed me an audio CD with the famous “We know where we are going” speech given by Michael Manley at the public session of the 38th PNP Annual Conference on September 19, 1976. The person probably thought it useful for supplanting Manley’s oratory style into that of JLP leaders who were boring jubilant supporters on the campaign trail. Being a mid 1980s baby eliminated the possibility of me hearing him live and direct, but finding myself listening to this engaging, powerful and extremely inspiring presentation by Mr. Manley 20 times over it confirmed for me why this man has such tremendous cult like followership. There is simply no other, and he may very well be the only Leader with such extraordinary speaking skills for the next 50 years. No wonder one of the world’s most dynamic and brightest leaders former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew in his seminal work From Third World to First in recalling an experience at a 1975 Commonwealth Summit in Kingston stated, “(Michael Manley) presided with panache and spoke with great eloquence. But I found his views quixotic (impractical)… the policies of (his) government were ruinous”. Incidentally, Lee Kuan-Yew successfully moved his country from developing to developed country status.
Beyond his oratory skills, seeming love for the oppressed and engaging public personality there is nothing else of substance for Mr. Manley and this is only validated by Mr. Franklyn’s intellectually vacant response to my expansive and factual critique. Mr. Franklyn claims that Mr. Manley is the “most visionary and transformational leader” that Jamaica has ever seen without putting up the relevant data to support such a lofty acclamation and went on to ridiculously claim that the statistics put forward in my column are “dubious”. Mr. Franklyn, should know better, after all he is part of an elite circle of very well paid Advisors to Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and can easily pick up his phone at the Office of the Prime Minister ring the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, the Bank of Jamaica and the Planning Institute of Jamaica and inquire as to whether the statistics confirming Mr. Manley’s abject failure as Prime Minister are accurate. Beyond that he can ring the former Prime Minister the Most Honourable Edward Seaga, who is a Honourary Distinguished Fellow for Life, a very very rare and elite position, at the University of the West Indies and Chancellor of the University of Technology and ask him if he presented erroneous data in his seminal contributions My Life and Leadership charting his role in Jamaica’s development before and after independence.
THE TRUTH REPEATED
The statistics are worth repeating. Under Michael Manley’s leadership as Prime Minister between 1972 and 1980 the economy lost 17.5 per cent of its GDP; the national debt increased ten fold from JA$300 million to JA$3,000 million; inflation ballooned by 250 per cent; revenues remained constant while expenditure galloped by 66 per cent; the budget deficit sprinted from 3.9 per cent to 17.5 per cent of GDP, probably the highest for any country not at war; investment buckled by 40 per cent of GDP; foreign exchange reserves were eviscerated, collapsing from US$239 million to negative US$549 million and unemployment increased by over 43 per cent moving from 182,000 to 271,000! What is the intrinsic benefit of albeit good social reforms if in the end we live in a pulverized economy with far too many pulverized minds? And with Michael Manley overseeing the worst devastation of Jamaica’s economy since independence rivaled only by his predecessor PJ Patterson how does he qualify to be called “the most visionary and transformational leader”?
In my last column I listed just some of the achievements attributable to Sir Alexander Bustamante, Hugh Shearer, Edward Seaga and many others. The above normal economic growth rates, the first rate development planning and actual successful developments, the creation of many institutions relevant today’s for economic development, the phalanx of educational, social, cultural, political and constitutional developments and reforms are just some of the sterling achievements that had not for Manley’s years of inept experiments and disaster Jamaica would have long joined a very shortlist of countries that made the leap from developing to developed country status.
POPULARITY MEANS NOTHING
Interestingly, Mr. Franklyn in defending Manley’s record trumpeted how popular he was with the people of Jamaica, while simultaneously validating growing whispers that some are bent on seeing Michael Manley elevated to National Hero status! Unfortunately for you Mr. Franklyn popularity means nothing as the world today and history in general is replete with popular leaders, several of whom have dreadful records of governance. Michael Manley is in fact a populist. His oratory skills, people skills in the public sphere including a very compassionate public persona made him popular, even though he rammed the Jamaican economy and the livelihoods of the majority of Jamaicans into the ground. In a January 2005 Gleaner column about Edward Seaga’s leadership, Ian Boyne, said the following, “Yes, Edward Seaga was a visionary political leader. And he was populist in the sense of being obsessed with and single-minded in his devotion of the Jamaican poor and marginalized. He was never populist in the sense of using rhetoric to incite class warfare or making short-term decisions just because they would gain political mileage. He did not play to the gallery or sought cheap-popularity. Indeed he paid dearly for spurning that time-honoured Machiavellian tradition, refined to an art in Jamaican politics.” That is the view of Ian Boyne a rabid leftist in the 1970s and self-professed Michael Manley fan.
MANLEY FAILURE HERE TO THIS DAY
Mr. Franklyn’s Manley hero-worship continued as he spoke glowingly about his fervour for equality and justice. Many claim that Manley made a great deal of progress in raising social consciousness, there is no doubt that this is true. We cannot however deny the glaring social inequities in our society that in part drives crime and underdevelopment. Hundreds of thousands of our people live in squatter settlements and large inner city areas condemned to a life of marginalization, poverty, crime and a gross lack of opportunities. Who is to blame for this? Our political leaders across the board of course must bear most of the responsibility, but there is no denying the horrid repercussions of Manley’s leadership that destroyed the Jamaican economy, drove thousands of our middle and technical classes, knowledge and capital overseas, damaged social harmony, sanctioned indiscipline, propelled mediocrity and instilled a no need to work hand out and crash work culture into the psyche of too many of our people. Even his return to power in 1989 and his poor economic management then precipitated the economic calamities that we reel from to this day.
As for Manley’s penchant for justice this may be true through rhetoric but not necessarily so through action. The 1976 State of Emergency, the first dispensation of the Gun Court and the Suppression of Crimes Act are just some of the many fundamental cases of state propelled injustice. The 1976 State of Emergency saw state power being channeled to stifle political opposition in an election year! Blank detention orders signed by the then Minister of National Security were issued, several opposition figures were detained without charge, homes ransacked, families terrorized and it goes on and on. Let’s not even go through the litany of atrocities many of which are were acts of state sponsored terrorism that characterized the 1970s and resulted in a mad rush north (overseas) by frightened law abiding citizens.
As we move forward for another 50 years I urge our young people to not get caught into the enormous web of intellectual deceit foisted on us over all these years and not cower when the word “tribalist” is thrown at you when your views run counter to the status quo. Many of us including myself were socialized through media and academia to believe that Michael Manley is great while being made ignorant of the basic statistics and factual data that easily destroys the fallacies we have become so hooked on. In the end a little reading and some outside the box thinking will go a far way in liberating one’s mind.