The incident occurred on Thursday (June 29), the day Simpson Miller retired from active politics.
“Hearing people lament Portia’s departure is like seeing people congratulate my rapist for being a ‘good man’ … She isn’t a good person,” Stephens declared in a social media post that has since been deleted.
The Reggae artist went on to describe the former PM as unqualified, embarrassing and awful, adding that she is happy to see her leave.
“Besides (having been) unqualified and an embarrassing representation who wasn’t even of average intelligence as per her public displays, she was also an awful, apathetic human who perfected the art of pandering to the hypocrisy of Jamaicans,” the artist further said.
“I’m happy to see her back. I’m not alone. Good riddance,” she concluded.
Several politicians including Angela Brown Burke and Venesha Phillips have since responded to Tanya’s post.
Angela Brown Burke, who is PNP Vice-President and Senator, expressed shock at Stephens’ comments.
“Tanya, really now! That’s what you’ve chosen to say about another woman who has inspired so many others? SMDH,” she responded.
Venesha Phillips, the PNP Councillor for the Papine Division in St Andrew, joined in.
“Angela, please delete this post. Let us not give airplay to the useless. To recognise that dead will give life to her, so let her remain in her grave.”
Stung by the Tanya Stephens’ sudden and sharp criticism, Simpson Miller’s supporters also went into action.
“Tanya needs to go and get help with her damage(d) and hurt feelings, and stop being so bitter with everyone,” an online user wrote.
“I love her as an artiste, but I think she crossed the line, because even though I didn’t want her (Simpson Miller) to be my PM, I love and respect her as a woman who let all women know they can make it in this society that thinks only men can get the job done. Portia has fought and worked hard to make her name in society, and I salute her. I love Mama P to mi heart, but I didn’t want her to be my PM, so I did what I had to do. We must speak through our votes, and not degrade anyone. Tanya, mi love you bad, and a labour mi seh, but you need to apologise to this woman. She is a true icon. Big up yuhself Mama P. Tanya you a mi G. Love you still, nah change,” wrote another user.
“You can only do better if you know better, and clearly she doesn’t know better. We have a culture in Jamaica where women tear each other down. Instead of lift them up, we envy each other. Tanya Stephens is an unfortunate product of our society (in which) women feel they have to tear each other down to get ahead. And comrades, stop being hypocritical, because nuff a unnu same one hate Portia and orchestrated her demise. You orchestrated the demise of Lisa Hanna too. Until as a people we learn to respect the work of our women in society, expect a few more Tanya Stephens to pop up,” another user added.
However, on Friday (June 30), Tanya Stephens doubled down on her comments via her Facebook page, hitting back at detractors, and defending her right to free speech.
“People are more honest about what they think of you when they think you won’t hear. People who lack spine, i.e. If you know me PERSONALLY and you can chat to me about OTHER s—t, run your thoughts of ME by me b4 you run them by others or cut. Me nuh establish friendships with kids or spineless adults. Sunday I turn 44,” she said.
She also turned a critical eye towards the media, lambasting journalists for what she said was their reluctance to do “real” journalism and investigate the excesses of political violence that occurred in rural communities in the 1980s.
“To all the journalists weh feel compelled fi talk to me…drive go Richmond St. Mary and ask Ho-Sue and Kong dem why they and Tennis Bakery locked their establishments with customers inside. Go ask them who name Derek Webb and what ensued during his political campaign against Alva Ross in South East St. Mary in 1980 election. In short…go do some journalism. Don’t look to me for a sound bite,” she added.
While PNP loyalists have come out swinging against Tanya Stephens, others have come to her defence.
“She has a point….tell me how the former PM’s constituency stands today versus when she took it over, n that will show the commitment to the poor , even if it is those within her immediate purview….this rating of Jamaicans because they r the first this n that continues to feed into the divide…negatives r overlooked….if all we continue to say of the many politicians is that they served long, we should also say they came out socially n financially better than when they went in, yet the nation remains stagnant….for the cream of the ‘better must come’ group, only dem see the slogan fulfill,” one user posited.
After 40 years in representational politics, 35 of which she spent as Member of Parliament for South West St Andrew and six as Prime Minister of Jamaica, Simpson Miller resigned on June 29, 2017.
The departure of the populist leader has reignited discussions about her effectiveness as a leader.