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Crawford endorsed as 'first out of four'

BY SHARLENE HENDRICKS
Staff reporter
hendrickss@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 22, 2018

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Senator and former Member of Parliament, Damion Crawford received gilded endorsements, at his campaign launch on Friday at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in St Andrew, from among the ranks of the People's National Party (PNP), including former party chairman, Robert Pickersgill and senior Opposition senator, KD Knight.

Red and orange-clad PNP delegates showed up to declare Crawford their 'first pick' of the six nominees running for the vice-presidency.

The other five are current VPs Dr Wykeham McNeill, Dr Angela Brown Burke and Dr Fenton Ferguson, and first-time nominees Kingston East and Port Royal Member of Parliament (MP) Phillip Paulwell and MP for Manchester North Western Mikael Phillips.

But already, PNP delegates are naming Crawford as their 'first out of four'.

In his endorsements, Crawford was pegged out as a prized communicator, “di face a di youts” who is able recapture the attention of a younger demographic, with whom, they feel, the PNP has lost touch.

Meanwhile, Senator and Queen's Counsel KD Knight expressed confidence that Crawford will be an “action VP”, one who will bring “new ideas, new thought, and a new way of doing things”, perhaps to appeal to a younger audience.

The exuberant senator staked his claim to one of the four positions by pointing to his ability to “gain the attention of the younger persons”.

“If you're not saying what they are interested in, then they rightfully won't support you,” said Crawford, who has proffered youth-focused policies such as 'one degree per household', and a tertiary education fund similar to the structure at the National Housing Trust.

With the turning tide among the change-leaning, non-aligned millennial population, Crawford warned that the children of loyal party supporters are opting out of politics. That he claimed, or as some believe, was the case in the last general election, when younger delegates and the “educated minority” voted on policy and not out of political loyalty or family tradition.

Either way, the “man of the people” politician warned that this will be a problem for the PNP, if left unchecked.

“We have many children of the PNP who are saying they are not voting. If we don't get an active effort to regain those children, it is going to be a problem in the future.”

In his usual style of failing to mince words, Crawford admitted that “there's definitely a job to be done”, pointing to what some describe as an ideologically lacklustre PNP.

“There is a job to be done because we are not getting a lot of attention as we demand. We not getting the attention from the media and in some cases we not getting attention from the people. Our communication either is ineffective or when effective, is not gaining that attention.

“It is therefore important that we say to ourselves that we need a team that can move the party forward, so that the party can move the country forward,” Crawford stated.

Crawford went further to say there is a need for persons within the party who can communicate and “sell the philosophy, ideology and the history of the People's National Party”. And, as he put it, he is one of those who is able to do just that.

He reaffirmed the ideological traditions of the PNP, declaring himself as one who will be able to “win souls” for the party by repackaging the party's political product.

Crawford also admitted that his political career has not been perfect, and thanked this supporters for the continued trust in his leadership in spite of unmet expectations. And to his detractors who have levelled criticisms at him for being disruptive, Crawford hit back: “I'm a part of a disruptive party that has never seen the status quo as acceptable,” again outlining policies along the lines of equal opportunity to tertiary education, an improved pension scheme, poverty reduction, and gender equity.

“Equity means that all demographics are represented in an (sic) equitable way for policies to move forward”, Crawford said.

The PNP Women's Movement has also endorsed Senator Crawford for the position of VP, something that he has highlighted as an advantage for his campaign.

“The women's movement is one of the central bodies within the People's National Party, and the majority of the workers in the PNP are actually women. So, if it is that women are behind me it would mean that I have a good chance of being victorious,” he said.

On the matter of equal opportunity to tertiary education, Crawford echoed the sentiments of his fellow Comrade and former Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites, who recently made public statements about the mere 20 per cent of high school students who meet the qualifications to matriculate to the tertiary level.

Crawford called for the party to “resist an education apartheid that has 40 schools passing five subjects and 120 schools not passing five subjects”, a disparity which has attracted comparisons to the system of institutionalised racial segregation and discrimination that existed in South Africa from 1948, and which was dismantled in the early 1990s.

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