Portia Simpson-Miller was born on December 12, 1945 with the full given name, Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller. She served as the eighth Prime Minister of Jamaica from March of 2006 to September of 2007 and also served a second term from January 5, 2012 to March 3, 2016. She is a former leader of The People’s National Party. She lead the organization from 2005 to 2017 and she also lead the opposition twice. She was the leader of the opposition from 2007-2012 and from 2016 to 2017. She was the first female Prime Minister of Jamaica. Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller- Former Jamaican Prime Minister and PNP leader had a very fiery personality and was never afraid to tell her fellow politicians how she felt about certain issues.
Simpson-Miller opted to retain the positions of Minister of Defence, Development, Information and Sports. She has also had the responsibilities of being served as head of the ministries of Labour, Social Security and Sports, Tourism and Sports and the Minister of Local Government throughout her political career. Portia became the second Prime Minister to serve none consecutive terms after her election victory over The Jamaica Labour Party in 2011. The only other Prime Minister to do this was Michael Manley.
Portia attended the Union Institute & University of Cincinnati, Ohio where she earned her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Public Administration. Simpson-Miller is also the owner of many certificates due to the many leadership courses that she has taken. She has taken leadership based courses at schools like Harvard University. The former Prime Minister was awarded Honorary Doctorates in the fields of Humane Letters and in Public Service at the Union Institute and Northern Caribbean University, respectively.
Portia Simpson-Miller and her history at the poles
Portia became the eighth Prime Minister of Jamaica after the retirement of Percival James Paterson who was the Leader of the PNP and the seventh Prime Minister of Jamaica, at the time. After the retirement of P.J Paterson an election was held within the PNP to select their new leader and that leader would also be the one to inherit the tittle of Prime Minister. In the 2005 PNP leadership elections was Portia Simpson-Miller, Omar Davies and Peter Phillips were the 3 candidates . The race was hotly contested but Simpson-Miller would emerge as the eventual winner.
She would later inherit the posts of leader of the PNP and Prime Minister in 2006. She would eventually lose the 2007 election to the JLP leader, Bruce Golding. Journalists conducted many public interviews after the election but the answer to the reason why Simpson-Miller lost the election seemed to be the same. People were saying that it was because they believed that it was time for a change of leadership. Portia would assume the position as opposition leader until the next general election, which was held in 2011. She would once again become the Prime Minister of Jamaica on January 5, 2012.
Portia’s Political history
Portia Simpson-Miller was first elected to the Parliament of Jamaica in 1976. She was elected to represent the constituency of South West St. Andrew as a member of the PNP. The PNP would later boycott the 1983 general elections. Portia would later re-elected when the elections when elections were eventually help, in 1989 she was selected to assume the post as the Minister of Labour and Welfare. She would head the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Sports until 1993.
She was the Minister of Labour and Welfare from 1993 to 1995, Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sports from 1995 to February 2000 ,Minister of Tourism and Sports from February 2000 to October 2002 and Minister of Local Government and Sport since October 2002. She was Vice President of the PNP from 1978 to 2006. She was elected as PNP leader on the 26 of February 26, 2006. She won the election with a total of 47% of the delegates voting for her which made her the first PNP president to win the election with under 50% of the eligible delegates voting. she replaced P.J Paterson as Prime Minister on March 30, 2006.
In July of 2008 Simpson-Miller was once again challenged for leadership of the PNP by Peter Phillips. The delegates of the party voted in favour of Portia and she wold once again assume her position as leader of the PNP. She was the opposition leader during this internal election. The PNP would win the next election because the people of Jamaica liked the changes that were implemented to the policies of the PNP.
Portia’s Political Views
Portia is known to be a strong supporter of Jamaican Republicanism and is one of the first leaders to endorse the replacement of the Queen with an elected President. She reportedly made the pledge to transform Jamaica into a republic during the Jamaica planning and celebrations. She had contradicting views during her first term in office. Portia was the first head of government in Jamaican history to openly endorse civil rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender citizens. She made these endorsements during and election campaign.
Portia Simpson-Miller stated that she was open to giving homosexuals positions under her government as long as they work hard and are qualified enough to carry out their duties. She stated that equality within a nation is of utmost importance. She is a very strong believer in equality of the highest standard.
Portia’s diplomatic relations as Jamaican Prime Minister
A release from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said the prime minister was invited to give the Jamaican and Caribbean perspective during the panel discussion on the issue. The other panellists from SIDS Member States are the Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and the Seychelles Minister of Finance, Trade and the Blue Economy Jean Pail Adam. Simpson Miller outlined Jamaica’s efforts to secure its people, protect its borders and participate in global peace and security initiatives. She underscored the close link between national, regional and global peace and security and economic and social development issues, the release said.
The prime minister also outlined some measures that are necessary to enable small island nations such as Jamaica and other Caribbean countries to overcome security challenges. OPM noted that the current security challenges in Jamaica, including the prevalence of the gun related murders, the proliferation of guns, the effects of the drugs trade and other dimensions of transnational organised crime, were featured in Simpson Miller’s statement to the UN Security Council. She traveled to New York today and return on Friday. During her representation of Jamaica at the UN Security Council, Minister of Transport, Works and Housing Dr Omar Davies was in charge of the Government.
Obama’s Presidential visit to Jamaica
The visit to Jamaica by the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama on April 8 and 9 was no longer designated a State Visit, which was previously agreed and communicated. The change took into account the time constraints of the short duration of the visit and the established nature of a State visit in the Jamaican context. Throughout the planning of the Visit there was, continuous dialogue between counterparts in the Government of Jamaica and the Government of the United States.
The Government of Jamaica and the Government of the United States were committed to ensuring a successful and productive visit. President Obama arrived in Jamaica on April 8, 2015. On April 9 the US President had bilateral talks with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. He also held a summit meeting with the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community and placed a wreath to honour veterans of World War I and World War II. President Obama also hosted the President’s Town Hall forum with Caribbean and Regional Young Leaders. He departed Jamaica on April 9, 2015.
Portia’s Speech at the CARICOM-USA Summit
“Mr. President, the Heads of Government of CARICOM attach great significance to this CARICOM-USA Summit. This is indeed a special occasion, as we seek to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation, which for centuries, have been an integral part of the constructive official engagement and people-to-people connections between the United States and the countries of the Caribbean. We deeply appreciate the decision of President Obama to engage with Caribbean leaders on regional and international issues of interest to both sides.
People across the CARICOM region followed both your election campaigns with heightened interest, particularly the 2008 election.
Your slogan “Yes we can” was repeated at every opportunity. Souvenirs were secured. Your photograph has pride of place in living rooms. Your victories have been ours.
Mr President, I am going to request that you indulge me and carefully reflect on how you would like to continue to inspire the people of this region and particularly our youth. You have already broken new ground in US/Cuba relations. You are, I believe, the first US President to engage our regional body now on three separate occasions. This is part of your legacy.
Mr. President, Colleague Heads,
The young people of our respective nations remain the driving force behind increased cultural contacts in the hemisphere, reminding us that through advancement in information and communication technology, our vast world has now become a global village.
Contacts between our people and governments have grown significantly over the years. The Caribbean Diaspora in the USA fully embraces the USA as home, while at the same time, maintain their cultural and other connections to their respective Caribbean homelands. The United States and the countries of the Caribbean Community are uniquely positioned as strategic hemispheric partners.
We are united by fundamental values, our interdependence and the desire to address common concerns, including the threats to the security and well-being of our citizens.
Trade and economic relations remain vital to the sustainable development of our region. Equally important is our joint action on the environment, including climate change.
Our dialogue today reaffirms our strong partnership and also signals our desire to take CARICOM-USA relations to a higher level, capitalizing on the gains of the past and exploring new opportunities for the future. Within this context, we fully embrace the recent positive developments in USA-Cuba relations. We commend you Mr. President and President Raul Castro for this bold and courageous move to renew USA-Cuba bilateral relations for the common good of all the people of both countries. We are encouraged by your engagement and dialogue.
My colleague CARICOM Heads and I remain committed to our partnership with the United States. We anticipate fruitful and productive exchanges at our meeting today to move the development process forward in the Caribbean region and the hemisphere of the Americas.
I thank you.”
Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller- Former Jamaican Prime Minister and PNP leader, during her opening address to the CARICOM-USA Summit.
Portia Simpson married Errald Miller in 1998. He is a Business executive and former CEO of Cable & Wireless Jamaica LTD. She was vested with the Order of Nation in 2006, which gave her and her husband the tittle of “The Most Honourable”. Simpson-Miller is also affectionately called ‘Sista P’ or ‘Mama P’. Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller- Former Jamaican Prime Minister and PNP leader was a very straight forward politician during her political career and was not afraid to touch on certain matters such as rights for the LGBTQ community.
Portia is a very jovial and fun loving person who is sometimes known for getting a bit feisty whenever she is criticized or “drawn out” by her fellow politicians. She always greets the people that she meets with a smile and a kiss on the cheeks. Her best quality is that she is always a person who listens to the citizens of the country.
Thank you for reading this article and if you found it to be informative and educational, please follow this blog and while you are at it why not follow our socials for all our latest posts. Have a good one!