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.

The NDP should be seriously worried

Christy Clark’s victory over the BC Liberal’s ‘old boys network’ last Saturday must be scaring the shit out of the NDP. Christy Clark is a shrewd politician. She won the leadership of the BC Liberal party with only one MLA backing her. The power elite of the party shut her out yet somehow she managed to connect with enough members of the Liberal Party to support her bid for the leadership. She has campaign ability.

So why is she dangerous to the NDP? First of all, even though Clark has a past in politics and indeed the Gordon Campbell government she has been gone long enough that she is not stained to the same degree that Kevin Falcon, George Abbott and Mike de Jong would be. She is not implicated with the improper imposition of the hated HST. Basically she is not the face of the BC Liberals that the NDP thought they would face in the next election.

Christy Clark is fresh. She is a new face for the BC Liberals. She ran an engaged campaign using social media. She is young and an active parent so she resonates well with other parents. Her family first agenda and hopefully the addition of a family holiday for February will resonate well. Clark is charismatic and she is able to command a room unlike other female politicians.

For the NDP, Clark is a huge threat. She is everything that Carole James was not. Clark sounds passionate when James would have sounded shrill. With James being gone now and her likely successor will be a man, the BC Liberals will look much more contemporary and in tune with British Columbians.

Clark also has the opportunity to catch the NDP off guard. She could call a quick election that could catch them unaware. They will need time to come together after their leadership campaign. If the campaign is divisive, which they often are, it could take them even longer. Clark and the BC Liberals have a clear advantage here.

The NDP are going to have to generate some ‘buzz’ around their leadership campaign, which has been largely over-shadowed by the Liberals. Their new leader is going to have to distance themselves quickly from Carole James and show that the NDP is ready to take on the BC Liberals. What looked like a sure-fire victory for the NDP is now anything but sure. If the NDP does not plan well they may find themselves in Opposition for another 4 years.

I love BC Politics!

So, we now have 4 candidates in the race to replace Gordon Campbell. First up is Moira Stillwell. I have no idea who she is and/or what she represents. I could not seem to pull much up on her at all. Now we have, in order of declaration, George Abbott, Kevin Falcon and Mike de Jong. I have one word: barf. These three idiots have been loyal Campbell yes men for years. These guys have stood shoulder to shoulder with Gordon Campbell and all his loyal henchpeople while they systematically decimated social services and healthcare in BC.

These guys have been part of the brain trust that sold off BC Rail, cut services to people with disabilities and imposed the HST. None of these people are fit to lead a political party. If they have leadership qualities they certainly have not exercised them in a very, very long time. From all accounts, Campbell made all of the decisions. Now we have George Abbott launching a ‘listening’ campaign and Mike de Jong promising that all the decisions will no longer come out of the Premier’s office only. Oh, and Kevin Falcon, in his infinite wisdom, promises to lower the HST by 2%. If any of these now former cabinet ministers becomes leader it will be politics as usual.

Carole James is also facing some political heat and questions about her leadership. Long-time MLA, Jenny Kwan has asked for a leadership. She argues (correctly, in my opinion) that if James feels she has a mandate with the caucus then she should submit to a leadership review to gain a new mandate.  I have to say that in a recent speech that Carole James gave to the BC Federation of Labour she actually sounded like a leader.

BC is facing many problems. Political renewal for both the NDP and Liberals can only be a win for British Columbians. If the Liberals continue on with same people at the helm the opportunity for renewal will escape them. The NDP, on the other hand, are poised to unseat the Liberals in the next election if they actually look hard at issues of leadership. I do believe that Carole James is not the leader to take the NDP into the next election in 2013.