Portia: I don't have the gift of gab

BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large helpsh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


OPPOSITION Leader and Member of Parliament for St Andrew South West Portia Simpson Miller has admitted that she is not one for fancy speeches, but rather channels her energy on finding practical solutions to issues.

Addressing journalists after she was nominated for the eighth time to contest the St Andrew South West seat at the Greenwich All-Age School on Monday, Simpson Miller said that she was looking forward to the leadership debate against Prime Minister Andrew Holness set for next week Tuesday, but warned people who will follow the debate not to expect flowery verbal utterances from her.

"I just want to warn everybody: I don't have the gift of gab (the ability to speak with eloquence and fluency). So if that's what they are looking for they will not get [it]," Simpson Miller said in the midst of a throng of cheering, orange-clad supporters who had come to witness the handing over of her papers to returning officer for the constituency, Andrew Ricketts.

The debate will be the third in a series organised by the Jamaica Debates Commission.

The first debate between participants representing the younger face of the Jamaica Labour Party and People's National Party went off last Saturday, with opinion divided as to which camp won the verbal brawl.

The JLP was represented by Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, Dr Sapphire Longmore and Senator Warren Newby; while the PNP had Lisa Hanna, Raymond Pryce and Dr Dayton Campbell as its debaters.

The second debate will be held tomorrow evening between Finance Minister Audley Shaw representing the JLP and the PNP's spokesman on finance, Dr Peter Phillips.

"I am a practical person, I believe in Jamaica, I believe in the people of Jamaica and what I say will be what I mean," Simpson Miller said.

In terms of her preparation and groundwork for the showdown with Holness, Simpson Miller said that she had not yet started to put her notes together, as she chose to focus more on campaigning for her party leading up to the December 29 general election.

"I have not started yet (preparations). I am working to win (election) and then I will get into my preparation. I don't know if I need much preparation, but I know that am going to review some things so that when I get there, I will be able to represent the Jamaican people and the People's National Party very well," she said.

"The Jamaican people are realising exactly what will happen in this country if they do not make the right decision and do the right thing. We are sending a strong signal.

"The People's National Party is going to be sweeping across Jamaica, because the people want to ensure that their hopes are restored, that the country is rescued and that we go seriously for growth, development and prosperity for the country and the Jamaican people," Simpson Miller added.

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Mark Forbes
12/14/2011 - 7:19 PM
All of you who are criticising the lady are a bunch of self-hating, classist twits. You think diction is a sign of intelligence? How come the present PM and his predecessor have/had to climb back down from so many statements? They don't know the meaning of the words they are using?
@KMorgan, I heard this on a JLP platform: "They said we couldn't afford free health/education but we FOUND the money" It is just wrong because PSM said it, uh?
Cookie Bulla
12/14/2011 - 6:57 PM
You don't think the Jamaican people know what the PNP is capable of after 18.5 years? Come on NOW!
Anthony Williams
12/14/2011 - 6:52 PM
One has to have the proper education to "have the gift of gab". That is where it begins.
Gary Harris
12/14/2011 - 6:44 PM
Jamaican people are so shallow. When since speaking well makes you do a job well.? Debating my friends is an art form not for everyone. Bruce Golding by virtue of his superior mastery of the english language and speech should have Jamaica flowing with milk and honey by now. And he never quite won anyone over on the international scene either. I guess its not about how you say but if you actually make sense. Nuff said, or maybe that was not intelligent enough for all to understand.
Cookie Bulla
12/14/2011 - 6:15 PM
That's why your answer to the Trafigura question was "ask the PNP"???.......You don't have the gift of gab provided that someone does not "draw yu tongue"

12/14/2011 - 5:35 PM
Anybody who believes that she has not started to prepare, then I have a bridge to sell them. I am sure they have been preparing her for some time. This is just to ensure the bar is lowered for her.

Fitzroy Munroe
12/14/2011 - 4:52 PM
Joyce, I think the word is "constituency"
Ray Foster
12/14/2011 - 4:19 PM
Ms. Simpson after all these years in public office, you would think such statement /comments would be a thing of the past apparently not. Very sad !
Jay Brown
12/14/2011 - 4:17 PM
Wanna Oman, Red Ants and other missing in action, I wonder why?
Can any bloggers explain why?
Alberto Alba
12/14/2011 - 4:14 PM
The word GAB means "Idle or trivial talk". Now, I thought that Mrs PSM was an expert at that. "PNP river come dung bank to bank." I dont expect any PM would boast of having the gift of gab. So to apologise for not having it seem to be rather nonsensical. Well, I guess Mrs PSM didnt check the meaning of the word before using it.
Mavis Bank
12/14/2011 - 3:56 PM
"...and in much of [her] talking, thinking is half murdered"
12/14/2011 - 3:43 PM
This is the reason PSM wont push to educate the people of this country. She thinks she can tell us she wont do well in the debate, she wont be able to present the facts of how to better run the govt but we will vote for her. I say no show me how you will make Ja a better place, how can you do better than the JLP. I am sorry PSM we hold our leaders to a higher standard you are not qulified to lead us. Your own party know this, please step away from politics, we demand what you cant deliver.

12/14/2011 - 3:43 PM
Please all,... Check what "The gift of gab" means before gabbing..... PSM, you are in my book, don't need a person who only speak fluently and eloquently...............remember the one called Bruce, he was an eloquent and fluent speaker, where is he now? And AH to me is another eloquent and fluent speaker....is he qualified?... not in my book. Think on these things.............
Kevin Fisher
12/14/2011 - 3:21 PM
Your gift, Mamma P, is to Dance and Prance and that is why nomination day was on your birthday , allowing us all to give a great party for you. The next birthday gift is to be given to Peter Philips. When asked what he desired most of all, he replied, Leader of the PNP. This will be realized on election day, Walk good.
Meisha Mitchell
12/14/2011 - 2:54 PM
poor sista P she already set up her self for disaster
mad max
12/14/2011 - 2:42 PM
I have told people that Mrs. Simpson miller makes Sarah palin look like Einstein.She will continue to have the support of the anti-intellectual majority in this country.at this point nothing can stop her career no matter how badly she does at the debates.
Anthony II
12/14/2011 - 1:56 PM
While fancy speech and wishful thinking will not fill JAM people belly, mi nuh tink sey mi want someone representing us on the international stage (because that is one of the tasks of a PM) who a guh tell UN, an CARICOM, and other world leaders: NUh badda expeck mi fi mek nuh big speech caaw mi deh a yaad a try tek care a di problem dem. No, sah, mi nuh want dat. Mi PM suppose fi can hold conference wid any an anybady from any an anywhey.
johnny gordon
12/14/2011 - 1:28 PM
I would be surprised if the debate moderators did not go easy on PSM. They would be heartless if they ruffled her feathers. Worse, they would be crazy to draw her tongue.
Verona Jamaica
12/14/2011 - 1:25 PM
PSM is so funny. How could she ask us to excuse her lack of fluency and eloquence in articulating her policies and plans for the country? You gots to be kidding me! She just needs to pack her bags and go. She is all about tracing on the platform, throwing words, being quarrelsome, warrior-like and combative but now in a formal setting, she is shying away from passionately discussing the issues? Shi tink wi barn when wi madda gaan a market! Now we understand why the PNP wanted a team debate.
Luv Quest
12/14/2011 - 1:21 PM
A lot of you comrades see Jamaicans speaking objectively about PSM and her ability to lead; I hope you all get it now. Our goal is to become a developed nation by 2030 and you people have the nerves of wanting this type of representation. PSM is outdated just like the software that are running you comrades brains and most of you are reluctant to get an upgrade. Maybe after Dec 29th you comrades will format and reload. PSM say mi nuh hav no “gift of gab” but mi wi trase all a unuh!!
dor southeast
12/14/2011 - 1:07 PM
Like i say Portia cannot run our country and should not if she cannot handle a local debate how can she handle our country against other competing caribbean country who wants to outrun our country. this is not a patty shop Portia it is our future and our kids that will suffer.
Fitzroy Munroe
12/14/2011 - 1:00 PM
It's honorable/noble for some1 to speak on their weaknesses. I also believe that it's imperative that a speaker should deliver a message in a manner that ALL in the audience can understand. Sometimes when we try to speak too eloquently using words that we need a dictionary to define we will lose ppl and usually it's the ppl who need the msg the most (poor uneducated.) No one as ever been defined by their words, but rather by their actions. I am sure that Mrs Miller will be just fine, let her be
Nejeeper KNG
12/14/2011 - 12:58 PM
Mrs. Miller you have served your country for thirty something yrs let your record and your conscience be your guide. Regardless of how you feel about not having the "gift of gab" in the political arena you shouldn't show any signs of weaknesses but identify them and make improvement. You are a beautiful J’can woman who radiates at 66 yrs old. I wish you the best however my choice is for a change of the old politrics. The next PM will have the spotlight so bright on them they won’t need a suntan.
R Perks
12/14/2011 - 12:58 PM
If you can't debate among fellow MP. How do you intend to debate among other world leaders?
Peter Lawrence
12/14/2011 - 12:29 PM
I am not concerned aboutPortia's debating skills, or lack of such. Busta was no Churchill in this regard and look what he did for this nation. His name is revered till this day; people said they would die for him. But she can learn from Busta. He was not a man to revere people with Phd's or a few academic qualifications more than him, or sportsmen, or pastors(some of them hypocritics), etc. If she kisses PM Holness after the debate, she has no chance in my opinion. Respect him NOT mother him.
David Armstrong
12/14/2011 - 12:10 PM
Portia Simpson Miller has admitted that she is not one for fancy speeches, but rather channels her energy on finding practical solutions to issues. What is she talking about? and if this is true why don't she tell the Ja'can people what practical solutions she has found and how it has helped the country. I don't see any practical solution from her side to solve violent crime, corruptionand high unemployment. PSM is a veteran political leaders and as such I expect better from her.

Yard Vibz
12/14/2011 - 12:09 PM
R Castro, why don't you stay in Philly & concentrate on the tug-o-war between Gingrich & Romney? Sick & tired of all these self-ordained intellectuals, who constantly brag about their academic achievements, yet lack discretion & sound judgment... Bases on Holness' public presentations thus far, he is not exactly someone who could be tagged as being fluent & eloquent... And Sista P ought to be blamed for making statements that could be used to devalue her stock price... Yu betta dan dem, Sista P!
Janiele Wilson
12/14/2011 - 12:08 PM
To Gab means to talk in a rapid thoughtless manner. On the political platform, you seem to talk in a 'rapid thoughtless' manner. For a good cause, such as the presentation at he exporters function......i was stuuned...i cant believe you are vying for Prime Minister...
Kweli Simba
12/14/2011 - 11:05 AM
By lowering the bar does this mean that the country should lower their expectations for the debate?? It is not with elegance of speech that one should try to influence the hearers but through the common language that the masses can unmderstand. Holness is not noted for his eloquence so she should feel comfortable with this opponent. I am surprised however, that she has not started to prepare in light of her short comings. This debate very important considering the stakes. I wish her good luck.
Joyce Haynes
12/14/2011 - 10:48 AM
educate ur consituancy teach them to b independent
Anthony II
12/14/2011 - 10:44 AM
At the end of the day, I am hoping that whichever party wins the elections, that party will be able to LEVEL WITH THE JAM PEOPLE! Tell them of the struggles in which they will have to get involved, in order to move us forward. Whichever party wins, JAM people will be facing struggles. And we need to stop accommodating learned helplessness by telling people about how poor they are and how we love poor people. Call upon JAMs to be part of the efforts to create a better country; and ACT ON THAT!
0o k
12/14/2011 - 10:23 AM
Don't mind dem honey......Just keep mentioning your legions of poor and you will do fine Comrade Leader!
Jah B
12/14/2011 - 10:22 AM
Portia, I beg to differ. You do have the gift of gab, thats all you do on the political platform. You dont have the gift of thinking on you feet, leading etcetc all of which are required for a prime minister. Don't blame me, I am only going off what star boy uttered during your pnp leaership campaign. as your ad goes "a no me seh so a KD" If gab was your only weaknes then you'd ideal, but alas gab is your strength. That we don't need from our leaders. maybe good enough for the pnp though.
Kerry Morgan
12/14/2011 - 9:55 AM
You certainly don't have the gift of gab, but you certainly have a lot of mouth on the political platform. You would prolly have a chance if they held the debates on the platform.
Wasn't it PSM who said that Andrew Holness is no match for her while addressing a crowd of supporters not so long ago?
Kerry Morgan
12/14/2011 - 9:51 AM
Damage control already!? In your last debate Miss PSM, you were asked how you were going to fund free health care...you answered, "we found money". A simple question as this did not require a person with gab to answer. If you had thought through how this would be funded, then you would have provided an adequate answer...one that made sense. I haven't heard anything else about removing GCT from electricity bill. Oh, that one wasn't thought through either? who would have benefited from this?

Joe Robinson
12/14/2011 - 9:47 AM
PSM is just not qualified enough for PMs job..If the PNP was brave enough to have made the change to young brighter minds which the party has. The JLP would have to think twice in gaining state power. Leadership culture has change in Jamaica, we are not in the earlier years of governance anymore, but its all about having power at all cost. Lisa Hanna as opposition leader with more grooming would have changed the picture.Its not just gab alone do it, not in this age.
Petros Haile
12/14/2011 - 9:12 AM
Sure, dream on
John Christian
12/14/2011 - 8:36 AM
Portia ..the last of the Populist political Dinasours...lowering the bar of expectation...she knows why...the torch has been passed to a younger generation...her pension will be much better than she could have created in the Private sector..as will so many others from the Political arena....wish you well in enforced retirement.
Stephen Fox
12/14/2011 - 8:03 AM
Are you trying to lower everyones expectations Portia? Now that the parliament is closed and the nominations are complete you should be free to tell us about the PNP plans. I see that you are singing the growth development and prosperity song.
Ramon Castro
12/14/2011 - 7:47 AM
Breaking News -- Portia Simpson Miller has limited vocabulary. This info was confirmed by Portia, herself. The consensus on the street is -- we dun kno dat aready!!!!
Justin Wright
12/14/2011 - 7:32 AM
No need to tell us Madam Prime Minister, we are not in sympathy with you, we know for a fact that you speak from the heart, and thats all Most Jamaicans want. They want the truth always and at all times. Just be yourself, deliver your facts well, tell the people what you know is about to happen, cause the BBC says the Ja opposition knows more than the current JLP Admin. Tell the people how you will improve their lives, Holness is a default PM, people now have doubts, poor attn to details, no exp
Ramon Castro
12/14/2011 - 7:23 AM
PSM setting her debating bar low. Why would a politician with over 35 years experience tell voters not to have high expectation of her outlining her goals and plan for the country she want to lead? If you can't articulate your argument to the Jamaican public, how are you going to do so on the international stage? PSM just confirmed what many have been say for years -- she was being shielded from making non-campaign speech by those in her party who didn't think much of her delivery either.
Jay Brown
12/14/2011 - 6:55 AM
Read: I do not do well in job interviews but if you give me the job you can expect 100%. I have great difficultly explaining my achievements and the technical issue but don't worry about that, just give me the job and I will do my best.
Now if you are interviewing someone like this for a job, would you take them on board as CEO.
How can she expect to articulate our views and position on the International scene?
If I fail don't blame me remember I told you I could not do it !