POR­TIA PRE­VAILS

Simp­son Miller wins by a ‘city block’

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­mond Camp­bell Se­nior Staff Re­porter

POR­TIA SIMP­SON Miller was in cruise mode yes­ter­day as she crushed her chal­lenger, Dr Karl Blythe, and so­lid­i­fied her reign as pres­i­dent of the 78-year-old Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP). In what di­rec­tor of elec­tions for the in­ter­nal poll Ju­lian Robin­son de­scribed as a smooth process, Simp­son Miller emerged with 2,471 votes, while Blythe man­aged only 198 votes as PNP del­e­gates sent the mes­sage that they were not ready to part com­pany with the leader they af­fec­tion­ately call ‘Mama P’.

POR­TIA SIMP­SON Miller was in cruise mode yes­ter­day as she crushed her chal­lenger, Dr Karl Blythe, and so­lid­i­fied her reign as pres­i­dent of the 78-year-old Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party (PNP). In what di­rec­tor of elec­tions for the in­ter­nal poll Ju­lian Robin­son de­scribed as a smooth process, Simp­son Miller emerged with 2,471 votes, while Blythe man­aged only 198 votes as PNP del­e­gates sent the mes­sage that they were not ready to part com­pany with the leader they af­fec­tion­ately call ‘Mama P’. Blythe’s call for re­newal of lead­er­ship at the top seems to have fallen on deaf ears as the del­e­gates ap­par­ently opted to re­tain the sta­tus quo at this time.

VIC­TORY SPEECH

In her vic­tory speech, Simp­son Miller told the del­e­gates: “I ac­cept your vote of con­fi­dence. I ac­cept your re­sound­ing man­date.” With the throng of del­e­gates shout­ing “One leader!”, Simp­son Miller said that while she has had set­backs in her po­lit­i­cal ca­reer, she is de­ter­mined to stay the course. “You pick him up, you lick him down, him bounce right back,” de­clared

Simp­son Miller as she quoted lyrics from time­less mu­sic from Ja­maica’s past.

The land­slide win came for Simp­son Miller amid in­tense pub­lic de­bate as to whether she still pos­sesses the po­lit­i­cal gump­tion to lead the party into the up­com­ing lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions, which are ex­pected this year.

While some PNP in­sid­ers charged that this would be the last time Simp­son Miller would of­fer her­self to lead the party, the vet­eran politi­cian gave no pub­lic in­di­ca­tion that

she would be go­ing any­where, any­time soon.

THIRD VIC­TORY

Yes­ter­day’s vic­tory gave Simp­son Miller num­ber three in PNP pres­i­den­tial polls, with her loss to for­mer prime min­is­ter P.J. Pat­ter­son in 1992 the only blem­ish on her per­sonal record.

Simp­son Miller first be­came PNP pres­i­dent in 2006, emerg­ing from a con­test in­volv­ing Dr Omar Davies, Dr Peter Phillips, and Blythe.

She was to re­pel a chal­lenge from Phillips in 2008, and lead­ing into yes­ter­day’s poll, she told jour­nal­ists that she would be re­turned by an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of votes.

Quizzed about her track record in pol­i­tics, the party leader said she has made a strong con­tri­bu­tion to both the party and the coun­try over the years in ev­ery ca­pac­ity she has served. “Whether it was at labour, whether it was at tourism, whether it was at lo­cal govern­ment, I left my mark in ev­ery area that I was as­signed.”

She said Blythe’s chal­lenge was wel­come and has only made her stronger.

The de­feated Blythe had ear­lier told jour­nal­ists that his ob­jec­tive was to “make a state­ment”.

He con­tended that if be­tween 20 per cent and 30 per cent of the del­e­gates had voted for him, he would have ac­com­plished his ob­jec­tive.

Ac­cord­ing to Blythe, the day he threw his hat in the ring to chal­lenge the in­cum­bent, he had al­ready scored a vic­tory for democ­racy in the PNP.

“I have en­er­gised mem­bers of the party to go all over the coun­try, with the leader speak­ing at ev­ery divi­sional and con­stituency con­fer­ence, so al­ready, I have en­er­gised the party for the lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.”

De­feated Dr Karl Blythe says by en­ter­ing the race he en­er­gised the PNP.

PHO­TOS BY JER­MAINE BARN­ABY/FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Re­turned Pres­i­dent Por­tia Simp­son Miller (cen­tre) flanked by her vice-pres­i­dents (from left) Dr An­gela Brown Burke, Noel Arscott, Dr Wyke­ham McNeill, and Dr Fen­ton Fer­gu­son.

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