Monday, March 12, 2012

How will the NDP manage expectations?

Based on where the polls are at and the general mood of the public in BC, it is a reasonable expectation that the NDP will win the next election.   Winning will be the easiest task for Adrian Dix, it is in government that he he will have the biggest trouble.   How will he manage the expectations of the people that support the NDP?

List of Expectations to be Managed:
The NDP will have to negotiate contracts with all the public sector unions, this includes the teachers.    The odds are the NDP will have to legislate some public workers back to work, almost with a certainty the BCTF.  The NDP had to do so twice during the 1990s.   Adrian Dix will either be forced to legislate the strongest labour support the party has back to work or he will have to convince the leadership to accept settlements that will go nowhere close to making up for the perceived losses since 2001.

The attitude towards the NDP by the mining sector is not good, but can the NDP actually be seem to be positive towards the industry?  There are more than enough elements among NDP supporters that are opposed to an expansion of mining in BC.   The future of the next five to eight probable mines in BC are very much in question.   That amounts to billions of dollars of investment in BC that may or may not happen.

The NDP has little or no choice but to raise some sort of taxes to be able to have any sort of start on a left of centre program of change.   The left in the NDP is already talking about  higher taxes on the rich and corporation.  The NDP campaign against the carbon tax and heavy involvement with the campaign against the HST will make even harder for the NDP to raise taxes.   I suspect that there will be a fear among pragmatic NDP insiders that they will be crucified and lose government after a single term if there are any tax increases.  The NDP will be accused of wanting to raise taxes in the next election, they will be in real trouble if they deny it.

What sort of reorganization of government will come under the NDP?  It is inevitable that the NDP  will make some significant  changes.  There are a lot of people out there expecting more government workers and specific ideas on how the government will look.   It is going to cost money and cause disruption.  Those of you that have read this blog know I am think the current organization of the natural resource ministries makes no sense.

The NDP is going to have a huge problem managing public expectations in healthcare.   You could add a lot more money to healthcare in BC and likely see few significant improvements.   The public is convinced we have a serious healthcare crisis in BC, the NDP is highly unlikely to be able to make a serious dent in this.  No matter how many resources any government puts into healthcare people are going still be sick and will die.   There will always be people angry because the system can not deliver what they want right away.   The NDP will have to be seen to be doing something but that something will cost billions.

There is a strong lobby among NDP supporters for enhanced public transit.   The NDP wiollbe pushed to to commit to large new rail transit projects.   The Evergreen line will go ahead but there are many more possible ones out there.   The line to UBC, further extensions to the Expo line and the LRT in Victoria are all projects the NDP will be expected to fund and fund quickly.   I know on the island there will be a big push for money for the E and N railway.   These are large capital projects and need billions.

BC needs more electrical power and the NDP has demands to move away from private production and back to BC Hydro power generation.   This means Site C and a whole segment of the NDP is solidly against Site C.  Short of more run of the river power, there are very few realistic options  to bring power online anytime soon.

Many will be expecting the NDP to work on the climate change file, but at the same time oil and gas along with coal are very important parts of the BC economy.   The government will be pragmatic and not bring an end to oil and gas.

I could go on with more issues.

The Reality
An Adrian Dix government at the heart of it is not going to radially different than the current Christy Clark government,  I do not see this as a bad thing.  I know I will be crucified by the left and centre right for saying thatfor the suggestion.  The BC Conservatives and hard right social conservatives will agree the NDP and Liberals are the same, but will disagree that either one could be a good government.

I do not expect there to be a wholesale over turning of Liberal policies.

Sure the business community will scream about the socialist NDP government of Adrian Dix, but it is their own supporters that will be the most disappointed and upset with an NDP government - the left of the NDP and the green wing of the NDP.   How he manages this will determine if Adrian Dix will be premier for more than one term.
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