Crawford blasts critics about Phillips’ age; cites Henry as example
It is shaping up to be a long three months of campaigning for the leadership of the People’s National Party (PNP) as more members of the 80-year-old political organisation continue to show their hands in terms of who they are supporting for party president.
The leadership race, which was being speculated about for several months, was confirmed two Sundays ago when Central Manchester Member of Parliament (MP), Peter Bunting declared that he would be challenging the incumbent, Dr Peter Phillips for the presidency of the PNP.
Delegates are expected to vote for their candidates at the party’s annual conference, its highest decision-making body, in September.
The party’s most popular, and one of its youngest members, Damion Crawford, signalled his support for Phillips just after Bunting made his intentions known. And Crawford defended the ‘Comrade leader’ on the weekend.
In particular, Crawford scoffed at critics who are insisting that Phillips, who turns 70 in December, is old.
Crawford, a former one-term MP for East Rural St Andrew, took a jab at the old guard in the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) while addressing a divisional conference for Dr Andre Haughton, the PNP’s caretaker/candidate for the West Central St James constituency.
Opposition Leader, Dr Peter Phillips (left) and Prime Minister Andrew Holness at an official function.
“When I hear dem a talk ‘bout Peter Phillips old, if Peter Phillips old, the PNP is young,” Crawford told party supporters. He then pointed to the platform and reeled off the names of some of the younger candidates and MPs inside the PNP, some of whom were appointed by Phillips.
Crawford then turned his attention to the JLP, and he waxed biblical while doing so.
“Over the JLP, dem have a man called Mike Henry. He is older than the ‘word’, and in the beginning was the ‘word’,” Crawford said to sustained applause, screams and desk-thumping.
He then named Edmund Bartlett, Karl Samuda, Pearnel Charles, Olivia Grange, JC Hutchinson, Delroy Chuck and Rudyard Spencer as being old.
And he was not through referencing the Bible.
“If you add up the JLP age, not even Noah’s Ark (is that old),” Crawford said to more applause.
The PNP leadership battle pits the 58-year-old Bunting against the 69-year-old Phillips.
Public opinion polls have shown that 46-year-old Prime Minister Andrew Holness is far more popular than Phillips, and that young people are more likely to identify with and support Holness and the JLP than the PNP president.
Bunting has used the findings of a Don Anderson poll which he commissioned in May to justify his challenge. According to the poll, based on his outline, some 50 per cent of Jamaicans will not vote for the PNP if Phillips is the party president.
On the other hand, 47 per cent said they would vote for the Opposition party if Phillips is not the president.