ATTENDANTS at yesterday's annual general conference of the People's National Party (PNP) expressed support for embattled Member of Parliament (MP) Damion Crawford, who has been at odds with many of his East Rural St Andrew constituents over his decision to spend his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) allocation on educational projects, rather than give handouts.
Crawford, a first-time MP and junior minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment, is facing serious opposition for spending the CDF allocation on his 3-2-1 education plan that was developed with the intention of giving persons within the constituency access to higher education at lower rates or free of cost in instances.
Senior members of the party had to intervene in the matter last week as the situation threatened to turn ugly. Among the criticisms was that Crawford had no consultation with his constituents before moving ahead with his plan.
But yesterday, a number of PNP supporters attending the party's 74th annual general conference at the National Arena in Kingston told the Jamaica Observer that Crawford was on the right track and that it was time for an end to "handout politics".
According to some, those attacking the young MP were lacking in vision.
"They must get up and go work. If they [the complainers] were working the country would be better off," said Barbara Henry. "Damion is not doing anything bad. We can't get up every day and depend on politics for handout."
"Education all the way," Calvin Rodney from St Mary interjected. "The handout politics, wi a try fi cut out. Don't give me a fish. Teach me how to fish."
Winston Dickson from Trelawny agreed that Crawford was "doing the right thing".
"The youth of today are going to be the men and women of tomorrow so we must invest in them," he told the Observer.
Tashia Brown, who hails from the Gordon Town Division of Crawford's constituency, is also of the view that handout politics is an unproductive way of doing things and should be done away with. "What I don't get [in handout] my baby will get through the education initiative. No Damion, no vote," she said.
Marjorie Mothersill of Gordon Town added: "We love him and he's doing a good job."