Portia: I will not be sidetracked

Portia says her focus is on winning local gov’t poll

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, August 15, 2016

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ANCHOVY, St James — President of the People’s National Party (PNP) and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller says she will not be sidetracked by the leadership race in her party as her sight is set on winning the upcoming local government election.


Addressing the annual constituency conference of St James Southern at the Anchovy High School on Sunday night, Simpson Miller said that preparing for, and winning the local government election must be the focus of the entire party.


"The political focus now is on getting ready for the next local government election. As leader of the People’s National Party that is my main focus now. Nobody can sidetrack me from this focus," said Simpson Miller.


"We can take this country back through local government elections and by the local government elections we can return this country to the People’s National Party," she declared, apparently referring to the party’s shocking loss to the Jamaica Labour Party in the February 25 General Election.


According to Simpson Miller, who is facing a challenge for leadership of the party, the local government election must not be taken lightly.


"I am not taking this election lightly and neither should you. I have a responsibility to get the party ready for the local government election and I will not ignore that, or give up that responsibility. So, I am visiting the regions, constituencies and divisions and meet with the councillors and candidates. Local elections are about walking the hills and valleys, going into people’s homes, workplaces and where they socialise, and it is important that we talk to the people," she emphasised.


Local government election is constitutionally due every three years. The last one was held in March 2012, which saw the then governing PNP taking control of the 12 parish councils as well as the Kingston and St Andrew Corporation and the Portmore Municipal Council.


It is not clear if the election will be held this year.


Simpson Miller will be challenged for the PNP presidency by former Cabinet Minister Dr Karl Blythe when the PNP holds its annual conference next month.


On Sunday, she told the gathering that "some [people] are of the opinion that my legacy is not to be protected".


"This movement is a noble movement that was established by an outstanding son of this country, Norman Washington Manley. We must always protect the legacies of the leaders of this noble moment. From Norman Manley to Michael Manley to PJ Patterson, and now [because] me a one little black girl, one little black woman, people believe that my legacy is not to be protected," she argued.


She said that now is the time for unity and that it was upsetting to see party matters being thrown in the public domain.


"...In every family from time to time you might have differences, but you sit around the breakfast or lunch or dinner table and solve those challenges. You do not wash your linen in the public," she urged.


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