Jamaica Gleaner / The ugly underbelly of internal Jamaican party politics was on show yesterday as Angela Brown Burke and Audrey Smith Facey squared off for the right to represent the People’s National Party (PNP) in St Andrew South Western.
Allegations of vote-buying and intimidation led to ugly verbal skirmishes, but these did not turn violent.
At the end of the day, it was Brown Burke, the choice of their former Member of Parliament Portia Simpson Miller, who emerged victorious as her supporters chanted, “Who Mama say, a that we say!”
With the gulf between the supporters growing wider as the day progressed, promises of a united PNP after the votes were counted were echoed by loyalists of both candidates.
Among those who argued that the Comrades would be united after the votes was Smith Facey backer Damion Crawford, who was greeted with chants of “Traitor!” and “Sell out!” as he arrived at the voting centre with fellow Smith Facey supporter Raymond Pryce.
“Mrs Simpson Miller gave me an opportunity in politics, but at the end of the day, an independent man stands with an independent mind,” said Crawford.
“Audrey represents what the PNP stands for. When Portia is in Parliament, she says, ‘I am from Wood Hall’. We want someone to say, ‘I am from [St Andrew] South West’ so that children can look up to them and say, ‘I can become that same person’,” argued Crawford as he explained why he was backing the councillor from the Payne Land division.
But the Brown Burke supporters were adamant that despite their love for Smith Facey, Simpson Miller’s vision as who should be their next representative trumped all.
Following the announcement of the results, PNP Vice-chairman Anthony Hylton sought to downplay the divide among the Comrades as he argued that this was normal for an internal election and that the officers of the party would work to ensure that there is unity going forward.