Click here to print page

Don't let them buy you, Portia appeals to delegates

Former PNP leader warns St Andrew SW contest is about who wants to own the PNP

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Portia Simpson Miller Friday night told her former constituents to reject the lure of money in today's selection to determine who will replace her as the standard-bearer in the People's National Party (PNP) stronghold of St Andrew South Western.

At the same time, she questioned the motives of Comrades who she said, were suddenly present in the constituency seeking to “speak” for constituents whom they have previously ignored.

“They have never supported you; they have never respected you. But they have come to buy you, the people of South West St Andrew are not for sale… Don't take dem money and make them tell you don't go vote. Vote for your choice, and our candidate is Angela Brown Burke,” Simpson Miller told delegates at Greenwich Town All-Age School in the constituency.

The veteran politician who retired from representational politics last month has since, in what some say is an about-turn, been beseeching people in the constituency she held for 35 years to accept Councillor Brown Burke, who represents the Norman Gardens Division in the Kingston Eastern constituency.

The other contender in the race is Councillor Audrey Smith Facey, who represents the Payne Land Division in St Andrew South Western.

Both are confidantes and long-time friends of Simpson Miller.

The former PNP leader's choice has created a divide in the constituency with those primarily from the Payne Land Division strongly objecting to her endorsement of Brown Burke.

Today's result will mark the end of two punishing weeks of bickering and acrimonious campaigning among Comrades in a contest that has been dubbed “the fight for the soul of the party”. The result will also determine whether or not Simpson Miller gets to ride off into the sunset of political retirement a happy woman.

On Friday night Simpson Miller, in a final appeal to delegates, referenced the struggles the constituency has faced over the years.

“We have faced many trials together. When we had eight caskets laid in front of us of people who were murdered simply because they supported the People's National Party, there were cries, there were tears, and it was our tears,” she told delegates.

“For over 40 years I have placed my faith and trust in you; tonight is no different. How I see tonight, when I reflect on Monday, one year after tonight or 10 years after, will be determined by your actions on Sunday.”

Simpson Miller told delegates that her experience as prime minister, in several ministerial posts, as one-time vice-president and leader of the party has caused her to conclude that the job of a Member of Parliament is not easy.

“Many persons came to mind; many persons suggested themselves. I thought long and hard because I know my people and because I love my people. It was not an easy decision, but when I decided to endorse Comrade Angela Brown Burke I knew it was a good decision,” Simpson Miller said, while reminding constituents that she has “never left” them.

“This Sunday is not about Audrey and Angela. This Sunday is about who wants to own the PNP and who wants to own you. Nobody is going to come into my constituency and own any of you; you are free men, women and children. When this election is over they will leave; they will stop spending on you.

“…I ask you to trust my judgement,” she stressed.

A total of 1,927 delegates are eligible to cast their votes when the poll opens at 10:00 am at Caribbean Palms Centre on Spanish Town Road.