Every thing old is new again

So Christy Clark has decided not to call a fall election. Given the HST results, which can be seen as a referendum on her government, I am not at all surprised by this news. However, Clark assures us all that the BC Liberals would have won in a fall election. And, you ask, how does she know this? Well it seems they do internal polling that assures them they would have won. Oh, but they don’t release the results of their internal polling. Ya, ok, wev.

During the leadership campaign, Clark said she was different than her predecessor. She would do politics differently. She pledged to put families first. I suspect that many members of the party supported her hoping that the politics of the old regime would change. It may be that the electorate is tired of the games, paternalism and condescension of the BC Liberal Party.

Like most political parties these days, the BC Liberals practice brokerage politics. Parties used to govern themselves by ideology, which would be reflected in their platform and policy papers. Instead of rooting in ideology, brokerage parties seek to build consensus and their sole reason for being is to be elected and maintain themselves as government. They try to assess what the electorate wants and then give it to them. They are also not above stealing ideas from the opposition.

There are serious issues with brokerage politics. One obvious issue is how the party determines what the public wants. After all, politicians are a self-serving lot. Brokerage politics also completely confuse the electorate. If parties follow general ideology, it is much easier for people to understand their options when they vote. The carbon tax is a really good example of brokerage politics at its finest. Parties on the left like the NDP or the Green Party generally champions carbon taxes. However, in BC, it was the right-wing Liberals who introduced the tax in February of 2008. In the election campaign the following year, Carole James, then leader of the NDP, campaigned against the tax. This made absolutely no sense and made the NDP appear to be especially irrelevant. In fact, her intransigence when it came to this piece of policy made her look very silly and likely contributed to the rift in the party that caused her to step down as leader.

Nothing has changed with the BC Liberals electing Christy Clark as their leader. She may be a different person but the politics are the same. The BC Liberals will do whatever they can to stay in power. If that means taking ideas from the NDP or not calling snap elections even when we have fixed election dates.

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