Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Bittersweet - Portia bids farewell to a lifelong love affair and incredible journey of service

Published:Friday | March 17, 2017 | 3:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Opposition Leader and outgoing People’s National Party President Portia Simpson Miller throws kisses to her supporters outside Gordon House before making her final Budget Debate presentation to Parliament yesterday.
Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller greets party supporters outside Gordon House before making her final Budget Debate presentation to Parliament yesterday.
Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller and husband Errald Miller make their way into Gordon House before making her final Budget Debate presentation to Parliament yesterday.
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In what Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller described as a "bittersweet" contribution in her final Budget Debate presentation in Gordon House yesterday, the longest current serving political representative in Parliament said that despite moments of tears and regret, her relationship with the Jamaican people has been "a lifelong love affair".

"I have seen the good, the bad, the happy, the sad, but above all, I have had an incredible journey of service to my beloved people and country," she shared with colleague parliamentarians.

Simpson Miller, arguably one of the most popular political figures in Jamaica's modern political history, yesterday received resounding acknowledgement from members on both sides of the parliamentary divide as they stood in unison, banging the tables after the veteran lawmaker completed a wide-ranging presentation.

 

'OVER TO YOU'

 

Quoting from founding member of the People's National Party Norman Manley, the outgoing president said that the "mission of the next generation is to achieve economic and social independence", a task Simpson Miller said she had set out to accomplish during her tenure.

"It is now your inning," said Simpson Miller to Peter Phillips as she leaned over to him and whispered: "It is going to be over to you."

While parliamentarians inside the chamber coalesced in showing respect to Simpson Miller's more than 40 years in active politics, the so-called grass-roots people, whose support made her a 'nine-star general', echoed their leader's name as they stood behind a barrier about 50 metres below Gordon House on Duke Street, Kingston.

Simpson Miller was elected nine times to the House of Representatives. If her win in the local government elections in 1974 were to be counted, Simpson Miller would have the enviable record of being designated a 'ten-star general'.

"I am proud of my record of representation of the people of St Andrew South West since December 1976," Simpson Miller declared, adding that even when her party did not contest the 1983 general election on principle, she never left her people.

The veteran politician conceded that she did not achieve everything she wanted for her constituency but noted that St Andrew South West had come a "very long way from where I found it in 1976".

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com