Portia tells why

Former St Andrew SW MP says her replacement must not be rude to constituents

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, July 27, 2017

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Portia Simpson Miller yesterday pushed back at critics who likened her endorsement of People's National Party (PNP) Senator Angela Brown Burke to “stabbing” Councillor Audrey Smith Facey in the back.

Simpson Miller's resignation from representational politics last month created a vacancy in St Andrew South Western, one of the most sought-after constituencies over which Brown Burke, councillor for the Norman Gardens Division, and Smith Facey, councillor for the Payne Land Division, are at odds.

Constituents and other members of the party with interest in the safe seat labelled Simpson Miller, one-time leader of the Opposition party, a “sell-out”, arguing that Smith Facey has been “by her side” for more than a decade.

The whiff in the constituency held by Simpson Miller for 40 years became agonising when a video the Jamaica Observer obtained last week showed the veteran politician endorsing Brown Burke, a virtual “outsider” to the garrison.

But yesterday, Simpson Miller declared that her replacement must be more than a shadow of her.

“I believe that Angela is more like me. She will love and treat the people with respect. I do not want to leave my constituency in hands that will not behave the way I behave among my people — embracing them and continuing with the number of students I send through university and those who needed help for high school.

“I want somebody who will operate the same way I operated as the MP for this constituency and somebody who will not be rude to the people. They are my people; they made me MP for this constituency for 40 years. I transformed this from JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) to PNP,” she told the Observer during a walk-through of the Whitfield Town Division with Brown Burke yesterday.

Smith Facey, who was present in her division at the time of Brown Burke's walk-through there, told the Observer that crowds and endorsements are non-factors to her.

“I have the delegates,” the woman, who calls Simpson Miller cousin, declared.

The councillor suggested that she was blindsided by Simpson Miller's decision and explained that she was part of a 10-year development plan for the constituency.

She said while Simpson Miller has achieved “much”, there is more to be done in terms of housing developments, the rehabilitation of roads, the refurbishing of schools, education and social programmes.

In the meantime, she distanced herself from those in the party who label themselves as “Team Renewal”, a group, some say, has been pushing for the promotion of younger Comrades.

“What is Team Renewal? What I do know is that Sister P leaving and a new MP coming is a renewal. Renewal is a process, my dear,” she said, adding that she was the right choice because the constituents have said it.

Brown Burke, whose division falls within the Kingston Eastern constituency, said while there might be a development plan in the constituency, plans sometimes need tweaking.

“…She (Simpson Miller) would have been supporting me because we have worked together over the years in the party. She has seen the kind of leader that I am. She knows that I am a leader of principle and also that I am an inclusive leader in the sense that I don't have all the answers. I am not the person who is going to insist that it is my way or the highway, but that in fact I listen and I am willing to learn and that I am also able to make sure that there is balance in the room,” the PNP vice-president said.

She suggested that a conflict could arise when the candidate selected for the job once represented a division in the constituency and is later faced with representing all three divisions. The transition, she said, might be difficult.

Meanwhile, the party said at a news conference at PNP headquarters in Kingston that 1,927 delegates are eligible to vote in the selection exercise slated for Sunday.




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