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Mark Wignall | Crawford’s goat to get curried today

Published:Thursday | April 4, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Damion Crawford as first vice-president of the People’s National Party (PNP) is not just the most popular man among the national count of PNP delegates, but he gets the biggest applause whenever his appearance is announced at a PNP forum.

In simple language, he is the most popular PNP politician/personality, leaving even his leader, Dr Peter Phillips, to lag in the background and grow big in the unpopularity contest. If a charismatic man like Damion Crawford cannot hold the Portland Eastern seat that the PNP has held on to since 1989 by a safe margin, or at least take it by a whisker, then the PNP is in big trouble nationally, and its leader’s head will soon be on the chopping blocks.

According to everybody’s poll, Ann-Marie Vaz will be victorious after the ballots are counted today. Based on those polls, the least that the Jamaica Labour Party’s Vaz will win by is five per cent (5%) points, and 15 per cent (15%) points is also a possibility. If the Vaz win materialises, the swing to the JLP will be enough to convince the nation and its politicians of some simple considerations.

The first is, more of the voting public will settle off on seeing the JLP as the party of dominance from here on, and more young people will begin to savour its novelty, while some will begin to jump on the voting train. Second, the PNP delegates and its parliamentary factions will be moving to ‘recalibrate’ the PNP leadership later this year. I would not be surprised if Dr Peter Phillips makes a stunning announcement.

Third, and most important to the JLP, any plans it had to call an early election next year will be made more urgent. In the completion of infrastructural work on roads, bridges and water supplies, PM Holness may be tempted to look on anew at the dates. Early 2020 cannot be ruled out.

There has never been a doubt that the by-election today is anything other than a referendum on the JLP administration’s leadership, coupled with the trust brought about by Vaz’s big jump-start on work in the community. Crawford’s gimmickry has alienated some of those in the 25 to 40 age group who are most prone to leaning to a new side of the fence. Some of the older traditional voters in the PNP who are unimpressed may stay at home.

It’s obvious to me that the machinery of the JLP is the superior one and, if it lives up to its 2001 North East St Ann template, Ann-Marie Vaz will have the unenviable job of tackling the multiplicity of problems that east Portlanders have long had.

Is there an outside shot for Crawford?

For Damion Crawford to win after this evening’s count, he will have to gather up all the pollsters and steep them well and deep in a tall, hot pot of mannish water. For him to win will require that the well-oiled machinery of the JLP gather dust and rust at the last minute and it all grinds to a halt.

The chance of that happening is zero. For Crawford to win will require that at the last minute voters, potential and real, will suddenly see Andrew Holness as slow and lumbering and Peter Phillips as fleet-footed, ready, able and the more capable leader.

For Damion Crawford to win, it will require that Ann-Marie Vaz tell her runners and get-out-the-vote crew to relax, curry a goat, eat, drink, be merry and do no work.

The chance of that happening is less than one in a million. For now, it seems to be in order to welcome Ann-Marie Vaz to the parliamentary corps.