It came as no big surprise that Senator Damion Crawford – PNP vice president and caretaker candidate for East Portland – has walked away from his constituency role. Crawford explained that the financial pressures on his fledgling business has taken its toll and he needed to reduce his (unpaid) political workload to focus on his day job.
Should Crawford have resigned from the Senate?
PNP leader Dr Peter Phillips once again has to take some heat for this chaos for not thinking more strategically a year ago on East Portland.
When sitting MP for East Portland Dr Lynvale Broomfield, was brutally murdered last February, Dr Phillips should have stood up in parliament and suggested that a PNP candidate served out the duration of Dr Broomfield’s term and not make the late MPs killers win.
[Just as happened in the UK when Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered and the Conservative and Liberal Democrat stood aside for Labour to run and uncontested candidate to serve out Cox’s term.]
I found it strange in March/April last year that the PNP leader allowed Crawford to resign from the senate, contest the East Portland by-election last April and then allowed to return to the senate after losing to the JLP’s (Jamaica Labour Party) Ann-Marie Vaz.
Dr Dayton Campbell’s return last week to PNP shadow cabinet also came as no surprise. Yes, Campbell had backed Peter Bunting in the PNP leadership contest and thus lost his position as shadow cabinet spokesman on health. But Campbell was by far the PNP’s most effective opposition spokesman in holding the JLP government to account.
It was not a good look that following Phillips leadership win that the money men, Bunting and Mark Golding (backed Bunting), remained in the shadow cabinet and Campbell was thrown out.
It is clear that some in the PNP’s senior ranks were not best pleased at Campbell’s sudden resurrection to the shadow cabinet. Vice-President (1 of 4 VPs) Crawford told the media that he and some other officials were not informed of Campbell’s imminent return.
If this is true then it was unprofessional on the part of Dr Phillips and his inner circle not to advise their senior colleagues of such major developments within the PNP.
Surely there must be some private WhatsApp group amongst the senior PNP officials where such important news would easily be circulated. It makes you wonder if Dr Phillips has a low opinion of his some of his senior colleagues or just does not find them trustworthy.
Phillips has appointed Campbell, Shadow Minister for Special Projects. What does that role mean? Who is Campbell shadowing in the government? Whose portfolio toes within the shadow cabinet Campbell needs to avoid stepping on?
‘Special Projects’ is the kind of job title you tend to give someone who is on their way out of an organisation and have nothing substantial doing in the meantime.
Some of those key strategists in Dr Phillips’ team are either not the savviest cookies in the jar or the leader is not listening to their sound advice. But something is still not right as to the governance and communication channels within the PNP.
Full Time Senators?
But one of the issues that has come out from the whole Crawford issue going forward is should members of the senate (Jamaica’s Upper House) be full time and on salary? The senate tends to be a more effective chamber than the lower house of (paid ) MPs in how it scrutinizes proposed legislation.
But looking forward to any much needed modernisation of the Jamaican political system – a new swanky parliament is in the works – maybe it is time that senators are elected, full time and salaried with extra roles and responsibilities.