It’s high time for Jamaica’s Opposition Leader Portia Simpson-Miller to step aside and allow a younger and more forward-thinking person to lead the People’s National Party.
There are many qualified people who can chart a new direction for the party. One thing is clear, the status quo isn’t working.
I have been very critical of Simpson-Miller for a long time. She is an ineffective leader who doesn’t quite know how to harness technology to reach the people. Andrew Holness, love him or hate him, understands how to engage the people. He is a political wonk, which the country desperately needs in its leader. Portia seems unsure of herself when it comes to policy and is a blank slate when it comes to explaining policies and policy changes to the people.
PNP affiliate the Patriots, want Portia gone. Like yesterday. The group issued a statement calling for her to step down, saying, “it recognizes the right of any comrade to offer herself for leadership, but it believes that after the recent election defeat, and in view of concerns raised in the post-election Appraisal Report, the party urgently needs to undertake a program of renewal. That begins with a change of leadership.”
The PNP Patriots said, ” we believe the time has come to embark upon a program of renewal, including renewing the structures, affiliate groups and leadership corps,” urging Simpson-Miller to “publicly state a timetable for departure.”
The group is also demanding the delegates attending the annual conference of the PNP be allowed to vote “in a secret ballot” on the “continuation of her leadership as party president” if she is unwilling to resign.
I will give credit Portia Simpson-Miller for shattering the glass ceiling as the first woman prime minister of Jamaica, but I don’t believe she lived up to her fullest potential and or even maximized her position to help lift poor and working class Jamaicans out of poverty. The island has made some progress but crime and high unemployment rates continue to dog the tourist capital of the Caribbean. She thumbed her nose at the electorate ahead of the February election that led to the party’s defeat. She assumed the role of a dictator or sorts, with the mindset that she didn’t have to participate in the debates. She weaseled out with the flimsiest of excuses that Andrew Holness insulted her by calling her the “biggest con artist Jamaica has ever seen.”
Simpson-Miller led from behind on so many, many occasions. For example, instead of firing then-Health Minister Fenton Ferguson for bungling the chikungunya outbreak and the dead babies scandal, she reassigned him to the Labor Ministry. He said the deceased babies are “not babies in the real sense.” It took her 11 days to issue a woefully inadequate statement about the death of the 19 babies at the Cornwall Regional Hospital and the University Hospital of the West Indies.
Portia seems to be just figurehead instead of a true leader. Peter Phillips is her mouth piece. Jamaica deserves better leadership from both parties. I believe there are many younger and qualified people who would do a far better job. It’s time to try something new. That involves cleaning house — starting with Portia Simpson Miller, Peter Phillips and Paul Burke.