In an earlier piece, "Crawford's epiphany", I called attention to the member of parliament for East Rural St Andrew and the difficulties he has been experiencing in charting a new course of enlightenment for his constituency. Since then, in the continuum of the struggle, the difficulties, to put it mildly, have increased. This has necessitated the PNP hierarchy sending a high-profile team to assist the beleaguered young MP to arrive at some amicable resolution with obviously belligerent members of his constituency. It will be interesting to see what this team will achieve. It would appear that up to now the MP has not been given the kind of fulsome support from his superiors that he deserves, and that the party is now just responding in knee-jerk fashion because the problems in the constituency seem to be escalating.
Mr Crawford seems dogged in his determination to use his CDF slush fund, not for pork-barrel distribution as many would wish, but to advance an educational programme on which he has embarked. He has learnt very quickly that in light of scarce resources money has to be prioritised, and he has made the calculated decision to err on the side of developing educational opportunities for his constituents. With the level of poverty and educational backwardness that he has seen in his constituency, no one could gainsay that this is not the right direction to go in. No one, of course, except the assorted tribalists who have been fed from the trough of scarce benefits and spoils and who expect that the limited funds be spent to reward their efforts in the recent elections.
In seeking to turn his back against this kind of politics and by extension bring educational enlightenment to his people, Mr Crawford is being flayed by the maintenance engineers of the status quo. What will the enlightened team from the PNP hierarchy do when they get there? Will they give support to the educational initiatives that Mr Crawford has embarked on, or will they reassert the significance of the status quo as the people have known it? Will they rap his knuckles and tell him to get back in line, or will they themselves be seized of the need to tread a new path away from the tribal political culture that has bred poverty in constituencies like East Rural St Andrew?
I am glad to see that there is growing support in the society for the "new path" that Mr Crawford is attempting. The significance of this must not be lost despite the methodology he may have adopted in bringing change. His personality or lack of communication skills is not what is at stake here. What is at stake is an effort to bring about that well-needed shift in political governance that the country needs if it is to be placed on the path to prosperity. Only a fool would say that this is an easy task. Although Mr Crawford is getting more resistance than he might have thought, not even he could have been naïve enough to assume an easy road ahead. It is not easy to clean up the Augean mess that has been created in our political culture where politicians are more than willing to bribe hapless voters in order to gain power. What Crawford is experiencing is standard fare in every constituency in Jamaica: the distribution of spoils and scarce benefits for which members of the wining party fought and for which some even gave their lives. It is not easy to wean them from the teats on which they have been fed in this horrible political game. Mr Crawford's unforgivable sin, according to some, is that he has tried to wrench them from these teats. It is true that he might have attempted a more gradual weaning, but I can understand his impatience with the culture.
It is again useful to ask: Where is civil society, including the church, in speaking to this initiative at a new dialogue about political governance? I have not heard one member of the clergy say anything about Mr Crawford's efforts and the problems he is encountering. Where are the PSOJ, JMA, JTA, JFJ, and the JCC in all this? Is it that Mr Crawford, a "rasta yute", does not merit your time? We like to bleat about the political culture that has stymied our growth and progress as a nation; that has spawned political violence which has resulted in horrendous bloodshed and destruction of property. Yet we grow silent when a young MP is doing something, however small, to chart a new course. This is the time for us to support him. Outside of voicing my support through these writings, I am prepared to send the MP a cheque , however small, for his 3-2-1 educational initiative. If other MPs are bold and determined to turn their backs against tribal politics, they too will get my support. Let us be part of the change and let us support those who are trying.