'Simpson Miller is the best person to lead the party' - Newcomers back PNP president
PEOPLE'S NATIONAL Party (PNP) president, Portia Simpson Miller, has been given a strong vote of confidence by several first-time candidates running on the party ticket, for both her capacity to lead the party and Jamaica at this time.
Simpson Miller, the first female prime minister of Jamaica, has been criticised inside and outside of the party by many who say she does not have the capacity to lead the country.
On Tuesday, the candidates, who are all aspiring to be members of parliament in the next general election, were guests at a Gleaner Editors' forum held at the company's North Street offices.
First to defend her was Deputy General Secretary Julian Robinson, the party's candidate in St Andrew, South East.
"All of us who are here support her leadership. She has led the party since 2006 through difficult times. She has managed to bring a party that has had two internal elections together. If you look at her standing, against the former prime minister (Bruce Golding), and in opinion polls she is always ahead," Robinson told the forum.
Robinson, who is to contest the seat currently held by the PNP's Maxine Henry-Wilson, said the party was aware of the viewpoint held by some, but it is one on which they did not agree.
According to him, the party has always encouraged dialogue and disagreements, and it was not fair to say anyone was blindly lining up behind either the party's leader, or its leadership.
"We all offer our critical feedbacks, we offer our suggestions, we inform the party leader and we tell her if we think she is doing something wrong, or if we need to go in a different direction. But, right now, she is the leader and we support her and she is the best person to lead the party," Robinson said.
Simpson Miller won the right to become party leader in 2006 when she beat three other challengers in the race to replace the retiring P J Patterson. In 2008, a year after the party lost the general election, Simpson Miller won big after another challenge to her incumbency by Dr Peter Phillips.
Newly-installed candidate, Damion Crawford, the former firebrand president of the party's youth organisation, said the PNP has always put the people first.
Crawford, who is expected to run against the JLP's Joan Gordon Webley in East Rural St Andrew, said the country needs to have a leader like Simpson Miller, and that time is now.
"I think that the time that is here now, is not a young people time, a woman time or black-man time. It's a time for the people of Jamaica to be the priority of the outcomes. And, therefore, I believe that that type of person is best to lead, and the best that I have seen in the politics at this time, as it relates to consistency and truth is Portia Simpson Miller," Crawford declared.
Another newcomer candidate, Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams, said she admired Simpson Miller.
"I definitely admire her as a woman, as the first female prime minister, and I do think she has the competence to lead this country. I think she has the confidence of the people, and the majority of the people in Jamaica, have a sense that she has their best interest at heart," she declared.