Portia Simpson Miller

Address to the Special Delegates Conference - March 26, 2017

Portia Simpson Miller
March 26, 2017— Kingston, Jamaica
Print friendly

Comrade PJ Patterson
Comrade Chairman
Comrade Peter Phillips
Comrade Vice Presidents
Comrade General Secretary and Deputy General Secretaries
Other Officers of the Party
Members and Supporters of the People’s National Party
My fellow Jamaicans!

I speak with pride today as we witness this smooth transition from one leader of our People’s National Party to another.

As I exit the stage as your party leader and pass the baton to Comrade Dr Peter Phillips, I know that my party, our party, the greatest party in the Caribbean is in good hands.

For my entire life, I have been associated with this noble movement.

My parents Zedekiah and Ethlyn were party workers, loyal to the ideals and vision of our founding fathers.

I could go no where else than to the party of Norman Manley.

I have been privileged to serve at every level of the PNP.

Worker, Councillor, Member of Parliament, President of the PNP Women’s Movement, the first female Vice President and the first female President.

So many of you have worked with me and contributed in significant ways to my rise through the ranks of this party.

It was because of your faith and support why this girl from the tiny community of Woodhall in St Catherine can stand here today and say; “I am proud to have served as your president for 11- years”.

Together we have stood on the battlefield.

Together we have faced the pain of defeat.

Together we have savoured the sweet taste of victory. Together we have walked through the valleys.

Together we have stood on the mountain top.

I thank every one of you; the delegates, members and supporters of our noble movement from the bottom of my heart for the love and support you have given to me over the years.

I especially thank the people of South West St Andrew who have been the base of my strength.

Their loyalty and support have given me the freedom to travel across the island in countless elections and support other candidates.

Today, I honour former Comrade Leader, Michael ‘Joshua’ Manley who saw the promise in me so many years ago.

His belief in me gave me the confidence to serve my beloved party in many capacities.

Former Comrade Leader, PJ Patterson, I thank you for the many opportunities that prepared me for leadership.

There are many of you who have been with me at every stage of my journey.

You have been my protectors, my warriors, my strategists and my strength. You have done it without remuneration or recognition. Today I thank you for your unbridled loyalty and love.

I think of the many who stood with me in the early years; Tony Spaulding, Hopeton Caven, DK Duncan, Daddy P and Robert Byers to name a few.

Comrades, I remain convinced today as I was in those early years, that the People’s National Party, must be that strong voice for the poor and dispossessed.

Norman Manley established the Common Entrance to give the children of the poor a chance at education and upward mobility.

Michael Joshua Manley led the most far reaching legislative agenda in modern Jamaica. He improved the social and economic status of poor Jamaicans, including women, children, workers, the unemployed and the socially down trodden. Equal pay for equal work, Jamal, maternity leave, the crash programme and don’t forget “no bastard no deh yah again”.

P J Patterson added the PATH Programme to give state support to the poor and he led the greatest modernization of Jamaica’s physical infrastructure.

Every single leader of this noble movement has worked to improve the lives of the poor and dispossessed.

Comrades, fellow Jamaicans, in 2012, we found a broken country.

Jamaica was on the brink of economic disaster.

The country was locked off from the international financial markets.

There was no funding from some of our bilateral partners because of the JLP’s abandonment of their programme with the IMF.

Many pundits said we could not implement the measures to fix the economy.

However, common sense told me that if we did not make a radical break with the past of high debt and low or no growth, we would sentence many future generations to a broken economic system and poverty.

We summoned the national will with the Partnership for Jamaica.

We got the different sectors to come together in the interest of Jamaica.
the private sector
the trade unions
small business people
and the general population

We were able to reduce the nation’s debt and build a positive investment climate.

Tourism grew with investments in thousands of new hotel rooms. Some of those are under construction now.

The energy sector expanded and light bills were the lowest in many years.

Now with the unconscionable taxes, light bills are on the rise again.

Many jobs were created during our time including JEEP and in the BPO sector.

We left inflation at a 50 year low of Four per cent.

We raised our global ranking in the ease of doing business and secured major inflows of foreign investment.

All the major indicators were trending in the right direction.

The economy was beginning to sprout like a plant that was finally getting the right care. It was growing and getting ready to bloom.

It is because of the correctness of our economic reform why this government was able to get a new programme with little effort.

Comrades, the PNP has always spoken out for the poor and voiceless.

That must remain our cause and purpose.

Comrade Peter Phillips like all of us before him will have to lead the charge to repair the breach, and restore the path, for the people of Jamaica.

He cannot do it alone.

He needs the support of the Officers, the Executive, the NEC, every member.

I urge every one of you to give your full support to our new leader as he works to win the hearts and minds of the people.

I say to the Portia Battalions and the Portialites, you must become the Peter Brigades.

He is your new leader and he will need you as much as I did.

Now more than ever Jamaica needs a strong, vibrant and united PNP to defend the interest of the people.

We must be the eyes, the ears and the voices of the people.

Now more than ever, Jamaica needs a People’s National Party guided by our timeless democratic socialist traditions.

We must embrace our foundation, mission, principles and ethics.

We must create programmes to enhance the quality of life of our Comrades…

That is why we created a special health insurance policy for members of the party and their families. This is the first time in our history as a political organization that a direct benefit has been developed for the members and their families.

Comrades, my fellow Jamaicans!

When I started in this noble movement as a naïve young girl from Wood Hall.

I could not envision that I would make history as the first female Vice President and President of this People’s National Party.

I had no idea that I would rise to become the first female prime minister of this great country, Jamaica,

Only the PNP could make possible the dreams and aspirations of a poor girl with no recognised family tree and connections on which to climb.

As I reflect on my nearly 50-years of loyal, selfless and dedicated service to this great Party and country, I have so many different emotions.

It has been quite a journey.

We have held together through some very stormy seas.

I have seen death, joy, sadness, good, bad, the weak, the strong, the highs and the lows.

I have been through some tough battles for this party.

I have witnessed many Comrades fall.

In this period, I think about those lost souls who gave their all and got nothing in return.

I think of those times along the way when only a few brave souls were left standing.

I remember the early 1980s when it was not fashionable to be a PNP.

We had only 9 MPs in Parliament but we were vibrant and strong.

We held up the pillars of our party.

The only thing we had was courage, but we were fighting for a cause and we were never going to quit on the people.

We knew that without the PNP, there would be no voice for the poor and dispossessed.

Comrades, In you, I see the best of humanity – You are resilient, caring and strong.

These virtues give me an unshakable faith in the future of the PNP.

With courage and confidence in our ideals, this great party will never tire … never falter … and never fail.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your President.

I have been blessed to serve the nation as Prime Minister, not once but twice.

My Comrades and friends, we did it. We were not just marking time, we made a difference.

I will continue to find ways to inspire and help people especially the least fortunate among us.

I thank you for the prayers that have lifted my spirits.

Most of all I thank you for the countless acts of sacrifice, courage, generosity, and grace that I have witnessed from many of you especially in the darkest times.

I thank you for your love and support.

I will never forget you.

You have been the wind beneath my wings as I have given the best of me to this movement.

Thank you!

I love you!

God bless you.

God bless the PNP and God bless Jamaica land we love.

Simpson-Miller, Portia. 2017. “Many of you have been asking for the text of my speech to the Special Delegates Conference yesterday. Address by the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller ON, MP to the Special Delegates Conference…” Facebook post, March 27. https://www.facebook.com/Portia.Simpson.Milller/posts/many-of-you-have-been-asking-for-the-text-of-my-speech-to-the-special-delegates-/10156562181832837