Smith Facey snubs SW constituency conference following recent defeat
There are telling signs that all is not well in the People's National Party (PNP) political bastion of South West St Andrew, following the no-show of a long-time political organiser and councillor, Audrey Smith, at the constituency's annual conference on Wednesday.
Her noticeable absence has triggered sharp criticism from some supporters, who have accused her of being "bad mind".
"She outa order! Never yet, in my 47 years since my navel string cut, me see this happen down a ya suh - and a ya suh mi born and grow. PNP people cuss all the time, but never, ever, it reach this," Annette, a supporter, told The Gleaner.
"The election done and gone already," she added, referring to a bruising internal run-off where Smith Facey, the councillor for the Payne Land division in the constituency, was defeated by Dr Angela Brown Burke, former mayor of Kingston, to be the party's standard-bearer in the constituency.
Though Brown Burke, backed by former member of parliament for the constituency Portia Simpson Miller, won that election, there were rifts in the aftermath, with some Comrades vowing not to support Brown Burke.
Smith Facey, a long-time ally of former Member of Parliament Portia Simpson Miller, went silent for days after the defeat.
But at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, there was no sign of Smith Facey at the conference, despite all other councillors from the constituency being present.
Half an hour later, Simpson Miller arrived to cheering Comrades but Smith Facey was still nowhere to be seen.
... South West St Andrew must remain number 1
Addressing the conference, Simpson Miller told her supporters that the constituency must remain the strongest for the PNP, evidence of which must be shown in the numbers in the upcoming by-election.
"I am calling upon you to work like you have never done before to ensure not just a victory, but to keep South West St Andrew at the top of the ladder. Whenever the by-elections are called, let the constituency remain the number-one PNP constituency in the island of Jamaica," Simpson Miller urged as she rallied supporters.
The former member of parliament, however, made no mention of how that feat would be achieved, given the rift in the constituency and the absence of Smith Facey, who influences one of the largest pools of supporters in the constituency.
Neither Smith Facey nor any of the nominees presented a report on her division at the conference, and, because of absence, she was the only councillor not to present a token of appreciation to Simpson Miller.
Quizzed on the absence of Smith Facey, councillor from the Greenwich Town division Karl Blake shrugged his shoulders without a response, suggesting that he did not know.