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Mark Wignall | The impossibility of clean politics

Published:Thursday | March 7, 2019 | 12:00 AM

First, let me give you the personal. In the 1980s, I had a five-year separation from my wife and it nearly drove me over the edge of insanity.

More than a few years ago when Daryl Vaz and his first wife were going through a painful break-up, I received a call from one of Daryl’s close friends who suggested that we go and pick him up, take him out and do our best to bring him some good cheer.

We took him to a rib joint, drank wine, and I, who had previously recovered from my personal hell, tried to use my experience to convince him that time does in fact heal all wounds.

I saw his return to happiness when he met and married Ann-Marie and had their little daughter who I called ‘Dolly Baby’. So, I know Daryl and Ann-Marie, and the first time I visited their Portland home was about 14 years ago.

So there you have a bit of the personal and an indication of my biases.

Damion Crawford invited me out for lunch just a few years ago. He is an instantly likeable man and his mind is sharp and unguarded like a scorpion’s sting.

In April, Mr Crawford and Mrs Vaz will be contesting for the East Portland seat, left vacant after the horrific murder of the People’s National Party’s (PNP) Dr Lynvale Bloomfield.

According to recent political podium remarks made by Damion Crawford, Ann-Marie has attained her utmost by marrying. Sort of like an earned MRS degree of social and economic standing and strength. Plus, in his world, the colour of Vaz’s skin must be seen in politics as a big jump-start.

In the presence of the entire hierarchy of the PNP, Crawford cravenly introduced a classist line in a local political contest when the only duppy he was seeing was one of his own invention.


It is known by many in this country that light skin, money and social strength are friends living on the same street. That fact cannot and must not be hidden.

But how does a Jamaican poor girl, who never even had running water in her home in Manchester when she was young, bear the brunt of that criticism simply because of her light brown skin and marrying a man of wealth and power?

Mr Crawford, would it be OK for you if she apologise for having fair skin? Would it have been OK for you if she had been born black and rich and got hooked to the same brown man? At which stage, Mr Crawford, do you simply make a decision to compete in an election, punch, jab, deliver punishing roundhouses and attempt to knock out your opponent purely by the believability of your planned policies?

According to Damion Crawford, ‘they’ have unfairly accused him of being a ‘pork dread’, of being mad and gay, too, and just because he accuses them of being Caucasian he is being dumped on.

Wish that he would define the ‘they’.

Just as how the South East St Mary by-election topped the previous general election turnout, I expect the same to happen in the April 2019 polls in East Portland. Even more significantly.

In the interim, I would suggest that the very eloquent Mr Crawford prepare himself to know the difference between stirring up class divisions and identifying the ideal forum to speak honestly of our colonial hangovers.

Political campaigns tend to evolve in messaging, so I expect to hear much more from Ann-Marie Vaz. I am also looking forward to the Bill Johnson polls done there recently.

Mark Wignall is a political and public affairs commentator Email feedback to and