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Historical Highlights

Foreword: It must be noted that during this period, several important and far reaching policy positions were developed and adopted by the People's National Party which are not included here. Therefore, the information below are mainly events related.


The PNP is formed and Norman Manley is chosen as its first President.

The PNP is launched at the Ward Theatre in Kingston. Manley pays tribute to O.T. Fairclough, as the ‘author’ of the Party.

The splinter trade unions are formed into the Trades Union Advisory Council and the advisory council is affiliated to the PNP. Alexander Bustamante, who has been a member of the PNP from its inception, refusing to bring the BITU into this umbrella group.

  • The PNP declares itself a socialist party.
  • Bustamante is arrested. The PNP takes over the running of the BITU
  • Ivan Lloyd wins a by-election for the parish of St. Ann to the Legislative Council. This was the first ever PNP victory.
  • Noel Newton Nethersole (Crab) wins a by-election to the KSAC. The was the second PNP victory.

The Jamaica Labour Party is founded. By this time, Alexander Bustamante had left the PNP some time before.

The first election to the new House of Representatives under universal adult suffrage. The P.N.P. contests nineteen (19) of the thirty-two (32) constituencies.

The JLP wins 23 seats, Independents win five and PNP wins four. Norman Manley lost in Eastern St. Andrew to Edward Fagan. Noel Nethersole, Rudolph Burke and Allan Coombs also lost.
Coombs lost to Iris Collins (later Williams) who became the first female member of the House of Representatives. Fred L’Ouverture Barca Evans (Slave-boy) an Independent member, later joins the PNP, giving the PNP five seats in the House.


Local Government Elections.  Independents win roughly half the seats. PNP and JLP are basically in a dead heat. Clearly a loft of organisational work had taken place between 1944 and the local government elections in 1947. Hugh Shearer wins a set in the KSAC Council. Ken Hill defeats Rose Leon for seat in the Council. Nethersole is re-elected to the Council. Iris King loses her bid to represent a division in West Kingston.

The JLP holds a majority in the KSAC, because Members of the House of Representatives (MHR’s) are ex-officio and the JLP had five out of six seats in the Corporate Area. Bustamante is elected Mayor, receiving nine votes to the PNP’s William Seivright’s eight. (In those days mayors were elected annually, but the law was changed in 1977 so that mayors remain for the life of the council).

The JLP wins the election again gaining 17 seats to the PNP’s 13, to two independents. The PNP receives 42 percent of the vote to the JLP’s 41. The PNP gains 3,510 votes more than the JLP. Norman Manley is elected to the House of Representatives.

PNP sweeps local government elections. Ken Hill is elected Mayor of Kingston. Edward Fagan formerly of the JLP, who defeated Norman Manley in the 1944 General Elections, is elected a councillor on a PNP ticket.

  • The Four H’s, Ken Hill, Frank Hill, Richard Hart and Arthur Henry are expelled from the PNP for ideological reasons.
  • Edward Fagan becomes Mayor of Kingston.


The PNP wins the election gaining 18 seats to the JLP’s 14. The Farmer’s Party fails to win a single seat, but makes an impressive showing and actually splits the JLP’s votes and organisational effort, thereby assisting the PNP the victory.


Ken Hill, the founder of the National Reform Association in 1935 and who was later a PNP Member of Parliament for Western Kingston (1949-55) and Mayor of Kingston (1951-52) runs for the National Labour Party of which he is president. He ran in West Kingston and picked up over 3000 votes, which split the PNP votes and gave the seat to the JLP’s Hugh Shearer. Iris King ran for the PNP. Shearer wins by a margin of 900 over Iris King.

Hill was previously expelled from the PNP, as one of the four Hs in 1952

PNP’s William ‘Commodore’ Sievright wins a by-election in Western St. Andrew, taking the seat from the JLP and brings the PNP’s tally in the house up to 19. The previous holder of the seat, Madam Rose Leon, was disqualified from the House through legal action.

PNP wins local government elections.

Full internal self-government. Jamaica now has a Minister of Home Affairs (National Security), the first of which is Dr. Ivan Lloyd. Two Ministers of Government are appointed form the Legislative Council; they are Douglas Fletcher and Rudolph Burke.

Federal elections are held on April 25. The two political parties that contested it were the West Indies Federal Labour Party, to which the PNP was aligned and the Democratic Labour Party, to which the JLP was aligned. The WIFLP wins the election in the Caribbean, but only gains five of the seventeen seats in Jamaica. The other 12 went to DLP-JLP candidates.


The seventeen seats were divided thus: each parish was a constituency and each county was also a constituency. Each voter had two votes, one for a parish rep. and one for a county rep. By this time, Ken Hill had switched to the JLP and defeated the PNP’s Edith Dalton James for the Surrey seat

As a result of the poor showing of the WIFLP-PNP Coalition, Norman Manley appoints 23 year old P.J. Patterson to be organiser for Western Jamaica.


  • Noel Newton Nethersole dies. He had been first Vice President of the PNP (that was the system then when vice presidents were numbered one to four and was so until 1967, when vice presidents became equal in rank). He had also been Vice President of the National Reform Association, which some viewed as the fore runner to the PNP.
  • Vernon Arnett wins the Central St. Andrew By-election, replacing the late Noel ‘Crab’ Nethersole. Arnett also succeeds Nethersole as Minister of Finance.
  • Election Day. The House of Representatives is increased from 32 to 45. The PNP wins 29 seats to the JLP’s 16. The PNP receives 54 percent of the votes.
  • Norman Manley is formally made Premier of Jamaica.
  • The PNP government headed by Norman Manley boycotts goods from South Africa.

PNP wins local government elections.

Referendum Day to choose whether Jamaica should stay in the West Indies Federation. Jamaica votes to secede. The PNP was in favour of remaining in the Federation, while the JLP was not.

Norman Manley as Premier, leads delegation to England to seek political independence, which was granted.

General Election Day in Jamaica. The JLP wins the election gaining 26 seats to the PNP’s 19. Sir Alexander Bustamante becomes the Premier on April 24 while Norman Manley becomes Leader of the Opposition once again.

Jamaica becomes an Independent Nation.

Kingston and St. Andrew Municipal Council is dissolved by the JLP Government. The mayor at the time of dissolution was Councillor Balfour Barnswell.

There is a strike at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation organised by NWU Island Supervisor, Michael Manley. This s a turning point in Michael Manley’s career and stars to leads him towards representational politics.

The Young Socialists are expelled from the PNP


  • There is the bulldozing of squatters to make way for the construction of Tivoli Gardens. Both Michael Manley (then a Senator) and Vernon Arnett M.P. were arrested.
  • Madam Rose Leon joins the PNP

General Election Day. The seats in the lower house of the parliament of Jamaica are increased from 45 to 53. Constituencies are gerrymandered to heavily favour the Jamaica Labour Party.


The JLP wins 33 seats and the PNP wins 20. It was the first general election since universal adult suffrage was granted in 1944, that Sir Alexander Bustamante did not run for a seat. Donald Sangster is sworn in as Jamaica’s second prime minister of Independent Jamaica the following day.
In this election, Michael Manley, David Coore, Howard Cooke, Arthur Belinfanti and others  are elected for the first time to Parliament.

PNP demonstrates against unfair elections by boycotting the Opening of Parliament.

Vivian Blake wins by-election in South East St. Elizabeth, retaining the seat for the PNP and succeeding the late B.B. Coke.

Norman Manley announces at a banquet in honour of his 75th birthday, that he planned to retire in early 1969.

Norman Manley voices opposition to the expelling of Walter Rodney.

Norman Manley gives his valedictory address to the PNP. This is when he made his famous ‘Mission Accomplished’ speech.

Michael Manley is elected president of the PNP. He received 376 votes to Vivian Blake’s 155. Before the end of February, Michael Manley was appointed Leader of the Opposition.

There was uproar in Parliament as the Opposition questioned the day apart elections from the March 17 by-election in South East St. Ann, one day to the Local Government elections the following day. The JLP got around it, by withdrawing their local government candidates in South East St. Ann, giving those six seats unopposed to the PNP.


  • Seymour Mullings wins by-election in South East St. Ann succeeding Dr. Ivan Lloyd, who resigned for the PNP and from Parliament. Ivan Lloyd’s son, Garland Lloyd, ran for the JLP.

Local government election day. The JLP wins the election.

PNP Youth Organisation has its first public activity. Youth speakers include Sheldon McDonald, Ruel Cooke and Paul Burke.

  • Norman Manley dies.
  • On the same day, Dr. Kenneth McNeill wins the bye-election in East Central St Andrew, succeeding NW Manley and retaining the seat for the PNP.
  • Michael Manley goes to Ethiopia. Gets ‘rod of correction’ from Emperor Haile Selassie.

P.J. Patterson, under the campaign slogan ‘young, gifted and black’ wins the by-election in South East Westmoreland, retaining the seat for the PNP and succeeding the late Maxwell Carey.

The PNP wins a landslide in the general elections, thirty-seven (37) constituencies to the JLP’s sixteen (16). Michael Manley is sworn in as Prime Minister, two days later. This victory comes, notwithstanding the fact that Jamaicans under 24 years of age were disenfranchised as the then JLP Government had refused to carry out any new registration of voters for a number of years, thus disenfranchising thousands of Jamaican young people.


Among those MP’s still alive today are, Comrades P.J. Patterson, Westmoreland South Eastern: Desmond Leaky, Trelawny Northern; Francis Tulloch, St. James Central; and Mel Brown, St. Elizabeth, South Western.