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‘The Patrick Manning we know’
Patrick Manning is a polemical political figure. He inspires emotions—be it the “good riddance” type of late or the respect earned after a lifetime of public service. Manning, member of Parliament for San Fernando East and former political leader of the People’s National Movement (PNM) began his career at 24 and is this country’s longest serving Member of Parliament. Nurtured under the tutelage of Dr Eric Williams, Manning grew from MP to Finance Minister to Energy Minister and served two tenures as Opposition Leader, as well as Prime Minister. He can tell the story of this country’s independence and how it came to be almost 50 years later—as he did during his campaigning of the 2010 general election. Professor Kenneth Julien agreed that politics was his life.
Julien told the T&T Guardian that he’d once given a speech to some students at a function in which Manning (then PM) was present. Julien told the students his most rewarding and most satisfactory job has been that of a teacher as he had the ability to shape young people’s minds. “He (Manning) then spoke after me and he disagreed,” he said. “He told the students that the most rewarding job was being a politician as you get to shape the growth of a nation....So you can say politics is his life,” said Julien. Julien observed that he shared a cordial relationship with Manning. “It was always Prime Minister and Professor,” he said. “Despite what people may say, he listens to what people have to say.”
If Julien saw the visionary in Manning, former permanent secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister Sandra Marchack saw the hours he devoted to his Prime Minister’s job. Marchack, who worked with him for more than six years, viewed Manning without his political cloak. “We never discussed politics...He was simply my boss,” she said. “I have a joke I make with some friends that one day I’ll have to write a paper on the ‘Patrick Manning I know.’ He’s so different from what the newspapers have made him out to be,” she told the T&T Guardian. Marchack said Manning was a “workaholic,” “a great boss,” and a “kind-hearted gentleman.”
He served 3 terms as PM
Patrick Augustus Mervyn Manning, born in San Fernando on August 17, 1946, was the fourth and sixth Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the former political leader of the People's National Movement (PNM). He received his secondary education at Presentation College, San Fernando, and got his Bachelor's Degree from the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica, in 1969. After graduation he returned to Trinidad where he worked as a geologist for Texaco until he ran for Parliament in 1971 and won the San Fernando East seat. Between 1971 and 1978 Manning served as parliamentary secretary in various ministries before being appointed junior minister in the Ministry of Finance.
In 1979 he was given the additional position of junior minister in the Office of the Prime Minister. In 1981 he got a full Cabinet position as Minister of Information and Minister of Industry and Commerce. Between 1981 and 1986 he served as Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. In the 1986 general election the ruling PNM suffered an almost total defeat. Only three candidates won their seats. Then Prime Minister George Chambers was among the losing candidates.
As one of the three successful PNM candidates, he was appointed Leader of the Opposition. In 1987 he was elected political leader of the PNM. A split in the ruling National Alliance for Reconstruction in 1988 left the PNM as the minority Opposition party and in 1990 Basdeo Panday requested he be appointed Leader of the Opposition. Manning served his first term as Prime Minister from December 17, 1991, to November 9, 1995. In 1995, he called a general election one year before it was constitutionally due. The PNM and the UNC won 17 seats each and the NAR won two seats.
The UNC and the NAR united in a coalition and formed the government and Basdeo Panday replaced Manning as Prime Minister. Manning served as Leader of the Opposition once again, also losing the 2000 election. The 2001 election ended in a tie, with both the Opposition PNM and the governing United National Congress winning 18 seats. President Arthur NR Robinson appointed Manning as Prime Minister. Unable to elect a Speaker of the House of Representatives, Manning proceeded to rule without Parliament until the need to pass a budget forced him to call an election in October 2002.
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