Say what you want, Portia Simpson Miller was the source of inspiration and colour in the House.
Petty fault finders looked for something to pick on in her little occasional slights in pronounciation, simply out of their own insecurities at her overwhelmingly charismatic persona. Kill them dead, other world leaders love her with her little ‘flaw’ and see it only as a “Jamaican “ thing’ like how every other ‘leadazz’ globally may have their own ethnic ‘thing’. Not a big deal.
Her personality, her colour, her fire, the sincerity in her and her deliveries, are what they take away of this woman. As former High Commissioner/Ambassador to Great Britain, Aloun Ndombet Assamba rightly declared just recently, when ‘Portia’ entered a room where the political elite was gathered, it was over. Their little squeals of delight at her appearance and the rush for a greeting and one of those special hugs was now what it was all about.
Yes, our little country girl from WoodHall evolved and may be a causative factor in how the global elite now meet and greet. Before her it was all mostly stiff necked and “politically correct” posturing, frosty fake smiles and terse greetings. The people needed a reason to show their natural warmth and they found that in our Prime Minister, Portia Lucretia Simpson Miller, the Jamaican country girl with little to commend her, except for the strong, warm and humane personality the good Lord birthed her with and her sense of style………and we dare to find fault with her!
We, her own that she holds so closely to her bosom, with our little ‘nobody’ selves have been trying to put her down and confine her to a box. I guess many would have liked to have locked that box and have the key molten down to never be used again…but it isn’t going to happen.
She has, after much internal conflict and disrespect, stepped away from the PNP throne, but has recently demonstrated that she is still at the batting plate. Don’t be deceived, she has not gone anywhere. Yes, she is that spectre in the PNP’s den that the bowlers can never ignore. She is their big hitter and ‘bowlers’ nightmare. The one reserve they know will be hitting that crucial “six” when given any small chance at bat. She is that ever ready all rounder, and maybe the best at the political game that Jamaicans will ever see. She may not have been the best read to start out, but she is smart. She learned fast, and she had a good teacher in Michael Manley.
Desmond McKenzie may provide the kind of colour that shocks the retina because of his many bright coloured and extravagant suits, but not the colour that matters to a nation’s wellbeing. Even in Opposition, PSM, as she is affectionately called by one and all, was always the central and focus point. Parliament is really going to be missing something that has been special to all. In Jamaican parlance, Parliament ’ just not keeping’ since she bowed out. Its colour is gone.
Now we have Peter Phillips, new leader of the PNP and Opposition leader. But don’t be fooled, she is still a major player. Who Portia endorses is always going to be ‘it.’
Even in the times of the indomitable, loved and revered Michael Manley, Portia was the heart of the people and pulled major sway with them.
As recently demonstrated, nothing much has changed since then. She is blamed largely for calling an early election, though she herself thought it was untimely and could be catastrophic, as her party wasn’t ready for one. Her more ‘academic” advisors reportedly assured her that they were ready and it was prudent to call the elections. She listened to them and the PNP lost the election. This little country girl some publicly called “dunce,” once again without uttering a single word proved that there is more wisdom in her “duncie pinky” than all the loud academicians gathered at the PNP table.
And the people cried, and are still crying.
Everyone blamed the loss on her. She had been conspicuous by her absence. An absence and silence imposed upon her by her “handlers.” The people needed to see their local queen and were continually denied that special treat by these “handlers” who convinced her it was better to stay out of the public eye. So she kept her nose to the grindstone and continued to plug away at the people’s business in apparent isolation.
We saw the results of that push in a big way. Little Jamaica was on the world map in a big and positive way. Though the global press applauded her and used her as an example of positivity, the local press crucified her daily for no apparent reason. After a while it was obvious that collectively there was a media campaign to ‘get her,’ possibly funded by an entity with a mind to destroy her for selfish reasons and definitely not in the nation’s best interest.
Yes , there were many clues out there as to who those may have been, but in true Portia fashion, she took one for the team and on the chin in order to restore calm and peace to her embattled party. You could always count on her for that. Some who should have known better even went as far as placing a gun to her head on social media and one even labeled her a Nazi. This constituted a threat. Threatening any sitting Head of State is a major International felony, bordering on treason.
Yet it was left untended by all, totally ignored and never addressed by then Minister of National Security, Peter Bunting.
Mrs. Simpson Miller was under constant attack from her very own camp. Old grievances surfaced and the name calling was among the lowest and dirtiest ever heard in local politics. Stabbed in the back by those she loved and trusted, while they seemingly enlisted the media to deal with her from the front. She did very well to survive with her sensibilities intact.
But then, in her own words, “those who know Portia, know that she no ‘fraid a no one! ..no boy , no gyal, nowhere!”
It is now very obvious by the outpouring of love and shows of solidarity from all quarters and even her political nemeses across the floor, that the PNP never lost power because of the people’s waning faith in Portia Simpson Miller but lost the crucial General Elections because of a major power struggle within the ranks of her own party.
It seems that whatever Portia Simpson Miller says is still what the people trust and will run with. In my opinion, all the ‘Young Turks” gunning for leadership and trying to call the shots within the party structure through “RENEWAL,” would have been a whole lot better off trying to get an endorsement from her. Who Portia endorses is who the people will back, simply because of their love and deep trust in her, built by over forty years of stellar service to her people.
Now who will that person be? Who will merit an endorsement from her? They do not come lightly. Angela Brown Burke, chosen for continuing and executing PSM’s game plan for her South West St Andrew constituency, thus the latest beneficiary of that special commodity, may not be a shoe in choice for overall party leadership when that time rolls around. Who knows!
Mrs. Simpson Miller has displayed and openly declared that she doesn’t care a hoot who feels a need to vilify her, she is going to do what she thinks is best for her people anyway. All the public relations skills in the world will amount to nothing if Portia Simpson Miller doesn’t feel someone is right for leadership of this country. I reiterate, who Portia backs, is who the people buy into.
‘Country first, my pride second,’ seems to be what has typified her forty something years in local politics. Now I wait to see who she will endorse for when Peter Phillips leaves the stage due to advancing age. It’s not a title he can just bestow upon his son as much as he would like to. I think I have a fair idea who may be considered by her, simply because that person’s execution and persona is so much like a Michael Manley/ Portia Simpson Miller convergence that it is uncanny…..but I will leave it to time.
The loose talkers with private ambitions sought to make her a pariah by placing a bull’s-eye on her back and a bit in her mouth. All they have succeeded in doing is making a people champion out of her and the people have in turn crowned her their local queen, who they will “blindly” follow.
The ‘colour’ is not gone.
It has simply found another base of operation and no longer operates within the confines of the House, nor the strait jacket placed upon her by the Executive of the People’s National Party at their Old Hope Road headquarters.
By Ava Ramdeen – a former staff writer and subeditor of The Daily Gleaner ,The Jamaica Daily News, and Caribbean Life News in New York, as well as Managing Editor of the Caribbean Media Network 1995. Email feedback to [email protected] and [email protected]
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