Sun | Aug 1, 2021

Crawford: Political backstabbing bleeding PNP - VP hurt by leaked phone conversation, apologises to Hanna

Published:Sunday | December 6, 2020 | 12:20 AMErica Virtue - Senior Gleaner Writer

In what was another turbulent week in the opposition People’s National Party, Damion Crawford has told The Sunday Gleaner that the movement is being hurt by “political backstabbing”.

The PNP vice-president was at the end of sharp rebuke from critics – including party members – last week after a September 10 telephone conversation, in which he laid bare concerns over the future of the party and its leadership, was released at last Sunday’s National Executive Council meeting, where a new chairman and general secretary were elected.

By the end of the week, it was former treasurer Norman Horne in the firing line as his failure to formally withdraw his nomination to the Senate prevented key Mark Golding ally Peter Bunting from being sworn in.

Golding, who was elected PNP president a month ago, had indicated that Bunting would be sworn in on Friday and take up the post of leader of opposition business in the Senate.

Horne had indicated that he would not be pursuing his nomination to the Senate by then outgoing PNP president Dr Peter Phillips after the general election, saying he wanted to give the new party leader the opportunity to make the pick.

However, he had not formally communicated his decision to the governor general, and so the nomination still stands.

Critics have suggested an outstanding debt of $10 million owed to him by the party was a bargaining chip for the Senate seat, a claim the businessman rejected.

Lamenting that “subterfuge and unnamed sources remain the order of the day” in the party, yesterday he pointed out that “Senator Damion Crawford is the latest victim of what seems to be a one-sided effort to leak private communications to undermine the credibility of senior Comrades and the party at large”.

Crawford, who is also a senator, told The Sunday Gleaner that the release of the contents of the telephone conversation, which was recorded without his knowledge, was part of a concerted effort to discredit him.

“In the last two years, anybody willing to look will see that there has been a concentrated effort, concentrated attack on my character. [It] started with the [presidential] challenge against Dr Peter Phillips and it has widened. I don’t have the money to pay bloggers or to counter every argument, but it has been concentrated and it has continued,” Crawford said on Friday night.

ORGANISED WORK

“The leaked conversation was part of organised work. The effort I put into the last elections cannot be questioned, and I have been 100 per cent committed to the PNP in everything that I do. I contributed to the manifesto. I tried my best to defend and to sell, and that is where I developed and gained much appreciation for Golding in that period,” stated Crawford, his voice thick with hurt.

“To be accused of being a Labourite hurts,” he said, quickly adding, “Nothing is wrong with being a Labourite; you choose what you choose. But even war has rules of engagement. But there are no rules, and when you attempt to defend yourself you are disrespected.”

Crawford said his major regret from the leaked conversation is the damage it would have caused to Lisa Hanna, who lost to Golding in the November 7 race.

“It cannot be incorrect for members of a political party to discuss candidates for leadership. It cannot be. … Some of the comments would be unacceptable in a public presentation, but I expected that this was a private conversation. But I particularly apologise to Lisa, and hope at some point that we could rebuild some form of interface. But I know, if it was me on the other hand, I would have been hurt by the method, more so than the content,” Crawford said.

The former MP is now turning much of his focus on helping parents assist their children with mathematics, especially amid the new schooling environment as he pledges to talk less and do more.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com