Forty-two years, Portia? And it comes to this?
“IREPRESENT ONE of the strongest constituencies (St Andrew South Western) in Jamaica; don’t play with me, I don’t play games. I work hard for this movement from 1974 ’til now, nuh boy, nuh gyal can’t talk to me ... I will come back here for another meeting and I know who I will bring,” said an obviously unsettled Portia Simpson Miller two Wednesdays ago.
Bear in mind that her unembellished barbs were directed at her own PNP supporters in South East St Ann, as a few of them openly demonstrated that democracy didn’t need Portia’s personal approval as she crudely pitted her home-grown supporters in South West St Andrew against the more laid-back but proud people of St Ann.
Had she ran into a pocket of JLP supporters and was facing off some booing, we could have seen with her, even though it would have been best of her to just smile, blow off a few kisses and move on briskly.
It is well known in Jamaica that the leaders of our political parties have been known to display all of the insecurities of prizefighters long past their prime in believing that there is always another last hurrah in them.
Eddie Seaga of the JLP did it, until his challengers drew out the carpet from under his feet in the first half of the 2000s. Now it is most sad for many PNP supporters to see their beloved leader reduced to ridicule. “Mark, you know me as PNP. I love my party, but that behaviour from Portia was just disgraceful. Disgusting,” said a 60-year-old Kingston woman friend of mine.
A man emailed me. ‘I expect the JLP to win the local government elections easily. Portia’s outburst in South Eastern St Ann will keep many comrades at home’.
It is more than likely that Portia’s inabilities to deal with the smouldering problems in Lisa Hanna’s rural St Ann constituency and a local government campaign in which the PNP finds itself broke and out of power are proving too much for her as time does to her what it will eventually do to those of us who live long enough and refuse to refresh ourselves on the air of humility.
On the other hand, after she brushed aside the afterthought of a challenge from Karl Blythe recently, she may have seen in that easy victory a convergence of her 42 years in politics and entitlement and lashed out because, well, 42 years.
The approaches of the ruling JLP smacks of a party about to nail the PNP to a wall come November 28. And the PNP, in not even being able to raid a friend’s piggybank to pay for a spray-paint splash graffiti ad, is acting as if it is already crucified..
After the results are fully known on November 29, we will have the added compilation of the extent to which an ad campaign and normal politicking differs from one where the only contact with the likely electorate is meet and greet as the PNP says is its only approach.
The JLP is in the driver’s seat and it is doing what the PNP would have normally done if it were in power. ‘Magic up’ $600 million bushing work, knowing that next month is Christmas month, and ensure that your own supporters get the bulk of the work.
Is the PNP wrong to criticise the work programme? Of course not. But at this time it is much too late for the PNP to get in on any of the work claims.
There is no coherent messaging coming from both the JLP and the PNP, but Portia’s recent implosion in South East St Ann is exactly what the growing anti-Portia faction in the PNP wants.
That faction has all but given up on even going through the motions to ensure a PNP win in its most vulnerable divisions. It just wants too see Portia further distancing herself from the PNP’s leadership values, a JLP win and that triggering the best shot of PNP renewal.
To have the Political Ombudsman, Donna Parchment-Brown, be the one to coax a nationally unheard apology out of Portia, a woman like herself, must have been quite painful. But, sad endings always end like this.