Fri | Oct 30, 2020

Despite Portland East pledge, Crawford will go where party sends him

Published:Monday | November 25, 2019 | 12:00 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Vice-President Damion Crawford has not ruled out running on a People’s National Party (PNP) ticket in St Catherine South East – or any other constituency – if the political organisation calls on him to do so.

Crawford, whose name has been linked as a replacement for Colin Fagan – a three-term member of parliament who has presided over falling electoral majorities – denied talk that he was abandoning Portland Eastern, where he is the party’s caretaker.

“I have heard that I am about to replace Colin Fagan. What I can tell you is that I am a party man, and whatever is needed for the party to win, I am prepared to do it honestly,” he told The Gleaner at a National Executive Council meeting at the William Knibb Memorial High School in Trelawny on Sunday.

“I have, since my entry into East Portland, developed an emotional connection with the people. Despite this, it all boils down to the interest of the party and its thrust to regain power. I can count four constituencies that my name has been assiciated with, so the present situation is nothing new for me.”

Crawford was defeated by Ann-Marie Vaz in the Portland Eastern by-election earlier this year. He was forced out of St Andrew East Rural in 2016.

St Catherine South East is among 13 seats the party sees as “challenging”.

Fagan defeated the Jamaica Labour Party’s Keith Blake by 8,260 votes to 6,589 in the 2011 general election but lost ground in the February 2016 edition, triumphing by 528 votes with a reduced vote of 7,553.

The JLP’s Robert Miller, a confidant and long-time loyalist of Prime Minister Andrew Holness, will challenge him in the next election constitutionally due by 2021.

PNP Chairman Fitz Jackson acknowledged yesterday that all was not settled.

“There are issues to be dealt with. There are ongoing discussions with East Portland,” he told this newspaper. “Be reminded that no one is a candidate for election until nomination, and that includes me.”

Outgoing MP Robert Pickersgill’s party bastion, St Catherine North West, has also been leaking blood, which has sparked concern among the PNP hierarchy.

“Elections have a lot of fluidity associated with it. We are aware of what’s facing us in North West, and the party is already in motion to arrest the slide.”

Jackson believes that Hugh Graham, three-time councillor for the Luidas Vale division, can halt the rot.

The party is also seeking to avoid a wipeout in St James, where it holds one seat.

PNP President Dr Peter Phillips urged NEC members to get ready because an election was on the horizon.

“We must be ready to deliver a better way of life for the people of Jamaica,” said Phillips.

The party’s manifesto will be ready by January 3, 2020.