Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller on Sunday September 24, 2006 delivered her first address in the capacity as President of the Peoples National Party at her party’s 68th annual conference. Her rousing address to the packed arena has received a myriad of reactions from local commentators, some in civil society and ordinary Jamaicans. Some argued that it was her best speech ever, whilst others said it lacked substance and was a bit vitriolic in tone.
To the surprise of many Portia sympathizers, the tirade of criticisms of her address has been overwhelming. On the popular morning talk show program, the Breakfast Club, the phone lines were opened up to allow some listeners to air their views about the Prime Minister’s address. To the surprise of the lead host, government Senator Professor Trevor Munroe, a total of 13 out of 23 callers disapproved her address. It becoming increasingly clear that more and more Jamaicans are frustrated with the leadership of Portia Simpson-Miller and her administration. Some of callers were unable to complete their thoughts due to their seething frustration. NO SUBSTANCE
Her address focused largely on hyping up failed Ministers, rabble rousing, tracing the opposition Jamaica Labour Party’s leadership, announcing a six month crash work program among other unnecessary things. There was absolutely no comment on the desperate need for constitutional reform, youth development and other key matters of national importance. INFLAMMATORY COMMENTS
The comments emanating from other speakers at the weekend long 68th annual PNP conference are indeed mind boggling. Dr. Paul Robertson, the PNP Campaign Director, swiped elements of the media for taking on an allegedly anti-PNP stance. His comments were so inflammatory that it caused some journalists to fear for their lives. What made the situation even worse was his singling out of a major local newspaper, accusing them of campaigning for the Jamaica Labour Party. Dr. Robertson’s verbally volatile comments were unambiguous and alarming. GRAVE CONCERN
Mr. Patterson on the other hand expressed grave concern about the ability of the PNP to win several seats. There is no doubt that the PNP remains bitterly divided and that this will in effect continue to weaken their organization. Mr. Patterson appeared disturbed at the increasingly clear belief that the PNP is well on track to lose the next general election.
The PNP went all out to get some amount of international legitimacy for their corrupt, bungling and profligate administration. They went as far as drawing on Mr. Nelson Mandela’s grandson, Prince Cedza Dlamini to give Prime Minister Simpson-Miller an endorsement. Clearly, he was completely incognizant of the terrible realities faced by ordinary Jamaicans, brought on the by the Michael Manley, PJ Patterson and Portia Simpson-Miller led PNP administrations of the last 17 years. It was indeed a disappointment. I guess he was just misguided. Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines , Mr. Ralph Gonsalves, also joined in on the ringing endorsements of this failing administration. He has been, rightly so, chastised for his more than intrusive step into the political affairs of Jamaica . His comments on the conference floor speak to a possible ignorance of protocol by him. A SPECTACLE INDEED
All in all the PNP conference was a spectacle indeed. The most damning display was that of the group of failed political representatives previously aligned to the JLP on stage. The PNP has taken them all with open arms. This is a yet again a clear illustration of the ruling party’s acceptance of failure. Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller is increasingly being surrounded by failures and this speaks to her ham-fisted style of leadership. WISDOM NEEDED
Prime Minister Simpson-Miller needs more than ever to be surrounded by persons of wisdom. Her short stint as Prime Minister so far has been a colossal failure. So far there has been the massive cement crisis, which has severely impacted the economy, a worsening Sandals Whitehouse scandal, the Portmore toll road fiasco, a dramatic increase in political tension, cantankerous speeches, a worsening of public sector wage disputes, frequent jaunts overseas and several other failures and blunders on her part. The country at this time feels Leader less. There also seems to be no sense of direction. WARLIKE POSTURE
Prime Minister Simpson Miller has also ratcheted up political tension in the country. Her warlike and quarrelsome posture at the party conference spells trouble for our beloved nation. Jamaica at this time and more than ever needs a Leader who can bring people together, not force them apart. Some thought that the Prime Minister would have known better. Well now they have awoken. Let us all unite to turn our country away from despair. About the Author: Delano Seiveright, Deputy General Secretary, G2K
* Please note that these opinions are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jamaicans.com