Sunday, November 21, 2010

Carole James survives - will she learn any lessons?

  • Carole James has survived the current challenge to her leadership, but it does nothing to remove the underlying problem, Carole James is not up to the task to lead a party let along a province.   Going forward on the assumption that all is good is going to lead to more problems.   Carole James has yet to make any public recognition that the issue is her and they she needs to make changes.  Ignoring the problem does not make it go away. 

  • The fact that it could be as much as a third of her caucus is not supporting her is a big issue.  It is interesting to see who is supporting her and who is not.   Among her supporters are the people that 'get' the game of politics and all the people most likely to replace her as leader.  As examples, Adrian Dix and John Horgan know the importance of public unity around the leader because of the media implications of anything else.  I have no idea what their personal opinion is of Carole James, and neither one would be dumb enough to let anyone other than their closest friends know what they think of her, but I am certain their is political theatre going on.

  • The issue is not if the NDP will win the next election with Carole James or not, but if the NDP will be able to govern at all with her as leader.   If there are issues with her being distant and high handed now, imagine what will happen when she is the focus of all the provincial political media.   There is little indication Carole James is a team builder or someone that makes people strive for more.   The NDP is not very popular at the moment in BC, sure the polls show their support is doing well, but there general public is not excited by the NDP or thinks they would be able to govern well.   The NDP could easily become government and on day one be unpopular.   

  • The NDP has to take the strong public distrust of Carole James very seriously and develop some plan of action to change this.   The party has to either replace the leader or figure out how to make Carole James more approachable and seem competent to be premier.   Going forward with no changes to the current situation is a very dangerous act for the party to take.

  • Few people can change how they can be in front of a camera and this should not be the major measure of how we judge a politician, but it is.   Ideally Carole James would look to Corky Evans or Bill Bennett and see that being more everyday human and admitting to imperfections goes a long way to making public like you.  Being angry that people in your party are wanting you gone as leader and doing so publicly in the media does not endear you to anyone.   She had a moment to seem contrite after the vote came and spoken of the need to change how she is as leader.

  • She also needs to address the 'emperor has no clothes' aspect of the NDP - the party is without any sort of agenda for government.  All we have from the NDP is that they will not be Gordon Campbell, well the Liberals will shortly also no longer be 'Gordon Campbell'.   In the issue areas I work in I honestly have no idea what the NDP wants to do.

  • Aboriginal issues - will the NDP follow the Gordon Campbell position on the issues or will they be 'harsher' on the First Nations?
  • Climate Change - other than being opposed to the single best public policy tool to effect public behaviour, I have no idea what they would do in government.   I suspect they will stop new green power production.  Site C?  Who knows.  Also, what does the NDP think will happen in BC when they scrap the carbon tax?
  • Budgets - With an end to the carbon tax and the HST, there will be huge budgetary problems for the government.  There will be billions that will need to be made up the government.   Without a plan on how to deal with this, a couple of years down the road there will have to be cuts to social services and health.
  • Oil and Gas - will the NDP push for more exploration and development or slow it down?
  • Environmental Assessment  - A complete blank for me when it comes to their approach.
  • Forestry - All I can assume is a status quo government that continues from where we are now.
  • Mining - I assuming the NDP will come out against mining expansion, certainly they are going to tarred with being against the industry so they should simply do the things wanted by the people opposed to mining in BC.
  • Transportation - I expect the NDP to broadly govern like the Liberals. I can not see how they can do more for transit when they will have fewer dollars to work with, in fact I suspect the Evergreen line will end up being delayed.
  • Aquaculture - will fish farming be gone after the NDP is elected?   I think it is safe to assume the NDP will end open net fish farming in BC.

In other areas I am equally confused.   Will the NDP increase healthcare funding and if so, how will it be funded?  Will we see a healthcare reorganization, again?   Will social services see more money?

Ultimately I expect the NDP to keep the carbon tax, scrap the HST but not bring in a PST, raise the minimum wage to $11-$12 by 2014, make no changes to natural resource issues, stall the Treaty negotiations, avoid the climate change issue, announce lots of things for healthcare but do nothing new, and in general substance to govern similarly to the Liberals.

The biggest problem the NDP will have is the issue of taxes.  The NDP will be tarred as planning to raise taxes once they are in government unless they can explain ahead of time what they are doing and broadly how they can afford it.   There is a strong belief in the public that the NDP is in favour of more taxation and the BC public is in rather anti-tax mood.  The anti-HST and anti-carbon tax revolts speak to strong public opposition to more taxes, this will be an Achilles heal for the NDP unless it is answered in detail.

Currently I would say the NDP is likely to win the next election, but they have set themselves up barriers that are going to make the task much difficulty and may allow the Liberals to come back from the abyss.   I am beginning to think the NDP is subconsciously trying to sabotage itself.   Maybe it is better to win 40-45% of the vote and not win government and have to take responsiblity for governing?   Maybe it is not so much the NDP but Moe Sihota, Carole James and David Schreck that are the ones that have the issue?

Maybe the real hope the NDP is waiting for is the rise of the BC Conservatives and a split on the right so that they can win without needing to get more support in the province.

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