BY Garfield Myers Editor-at-Large South/Central Bureau firstname.lastname@example.org
SANTA CRUZ, St Elizabeth — People's National Party (PNP) parliamentarian Damion Crawford has told party workers and delegates to prepare themselves for an energising of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) should there be a leadership contest.
In fact, Crawford went as far as to suggest that JLP Deputy Leader Audley Shaw, who intends to challenge Andrew Holness for the leadership, may be better able to "rile up" the Opposition party.
"It is my own view that if Audley Shaw wins he might be better able to rile up the JLP people," Crawford told a PNP Region Five conference at St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) on Sunday.
"To rile up the people who just want... cuss PNP, just like how in PNP you have some people who just want to cuss Labourite... him nuh business bout IMF, him nuh business 'bout nuttin...," he said.
Crawford also argued that Shaw's proposed challenge would strengthen, not weaken the JLP.
"You have some PNP people celebrating and not looking at what the possible outcomes are," said Crawford, a former youth leader and current member of parliament for St Andrew East Rural as well as a junior minister in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment.
"The first thing is that it (possible leadership challenge) is a threat to us, not because of who they (Holness and Shaw) are... but what will happen is that they will energise their base by being active on the ground," said Crawford.
"What will happen is that they will be spending money with their people, causing some of our people to complain more because they are not getting some of that money. What will happen is that they will be oiling up their machinery because the activity in a campaign is the same in an internal as well as external," he added.
Crawford told Comrades they should match the JLP activity "with our activity on the ground", educating people about the work and objectives of the PNP Government as well as the challenges being faced in the current economic structural adjustment programme.
"I don't want we (behave) as if we don't understand that it (JLP leadership contest) has certain implications for us," he said.
Comrades, he said, should "be prepared for whatever scenario that comes out".
"And not just celebrate in the fact that there is a challenge as if challenge is in itself a success for us," he added.
He urged PNP leaders at the community level to set a good example for their neighbours and the wider community in their interactions and relationships.
He rejected what he said was a tendency by some Comrades to put themselves ahead of the community, their country and their party.
There were too many Comrades who wanted to practise "person power" and "me, my" politics rather than "people power" for the good of the wider community, he stressed.
Crawford also condemned the practice of political victimisation and what he suggested was an inclination by some Comrades to ignore the needs of Labourites. That kind of behaviour he described as "reverse unfairness".
According to Crawford, even if "Labourite used to starve PNP, don't mean seh when we get into power we must starve Labourite".
"When we inna power, we must look at it that things must happen for everyone, because when rain fall it don't fall pon one man housetop," he said.
The executive of the PNP's Region Five, led by chairman Senator Wensworth Skeffery, was returned unopposed at the conference.