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Supporters cheer on their favourites at Parliament's Opening

Published:Friday | February 20, 2015 | 2:00 AMDaviot Kelly
Riders from the police's Mounted Troop Division guide their horses and creating the usually breath-taking picture at the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament.
Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness (centre), surrounded by his supporters. Beside him is Desmond McKenzie, member of parliament for West Kingston.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller greeting supporters.
Members of the Opposition make their way down Duke Street.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (third left), leading members of her government towards Gordon House, for the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament, yesterday.
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In a show of solidarity, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) supporters gave a hearty showing at yesterday's ceremonial opening of the new parliamentary year at Gordon House in Kingston.

Current calls for JLP leader Andrew Holness to step aside were falling on deaf ears - at least for the day - as the beleaguered party leader's face was prominent on several T-shirts worn by green-clad supporters. For some of them, it was clear who should still lead the party.

"All weh a gwaan enuh, a Andrew a still di man! Him a try some different things wid di party," said Moxey McKenzie, a self-confessed long-time supporter of the JLP. "Some a di senior man dem a mash up dis ting. When a your time fi lead, yuh take it."

McKenzie, who uses a wheelchair to get around, said he looks forward to the ceremonial opening of Parliament every year.

"Mi haffi out yah, man. Mi a JLP from mi a youth, and mi a 57, soon 58 now," he added.

Armed with their bells, JLP supporters cheered lustily, waving 'V' symbols they made with their fingers.

NO-SHOWS

But despite the improved numbers over 2014's opening, including a reported sizable contingent from West Kingston, the absence of some prominent JLP members of parliament (MPs) did not go unnoticed. The no-shows of bigwigs such as Delroy Chuck, Daryl Vaz and Gregory Mair raised eyebrows.

Despite being outnumbered, the People's National Party (PNP) supporters were no less patriotic. They came cheering on the gamut of PNP members - from veterans like K.D. 'Star Bwoy' Knight to newcomers like Central Westmoreland MP Dwayne Vaz.

While the numbers may not have been what they traditionally enjoyed, for them, it was a sign of progress.

"A because nuff a dem couldn't leave work fi come, man," said 'Ms Janet', a loyal supporter from De La Vega City. "A beg mi beg di day. Plenty a dem get a likkle work now, so dem haffi make use of it."

The JLP no-shows and the current state of that party were also the butt of many a joke.

"Dem have bell? Wi shoulda have some broom fi sweep dem out yah now," said one woman. "Dem nuh have nuh party, dem mash up inna 10 piece."

When prime minister and beloved Comrade leader Portia Simpson Miller reappeared after the governor general's Throne Speech, the supporters who stuck around were jubilant. Never one to shun hugs from the public, Simpson Miller welcomed them with open arms.

"Dem nuh have nuh leader," one PNP supporter said, pointing to the upper section of Duke Street, where the opposition supporters were gathered.

The PNP supporters said they were more than confident that upcoming local government and general elections would see an orange tide rise once again.

daviot.kelly@gleanerjm.com