Friday, July 19, 2013

How corrosive is the 2013 election loss on the BC NDP?

After losing an election that everyone said they would win and would win with the landslide has got be messing with the confidence of New Democrats in BC of being able to ever win.

Will the public, NDP and media now be convinced that the BC Liberals will win the 2017 election baring a total collapse of that party before the election?   If people become convinced of this who will benefit the most from it?   Will the NDP just give up now?  Will BC Liberal supporters become complacent and do little to re-elect the government?

In the last three elections we have seen people try hard to win NDP nominations in hopes becoming an MLA and ideally a member of the government.  Will we see the same sort of drive by people to try and contest the nominations in any of the seats the NDP did not win in 2013?   Will the NDP membership effective write off much of the province as unwinnable?

I can remember in 1983 and 1986 when even though the NDP was polling better than Social Credit many New Democrats were resigned to losing.   The party, and much of the public in BC, had convinced themselves that no matter what the NDP would still lose the elections.   I have to wonder of if there was a bit of self fulfilling prophecy going on.

In many ways the 2013 election is the first time since 1996 when the NDP really thought there was a chance they could win and they campaigned as if they would be government.   In 2009 I never got the sense the NDP expected to win and certainly their campaign was one that did not inspire me with confidence that they would be a reasonable government with respect to environmental or aboriginal issues.

The drought from 1975 to 1991 covered four elections, this same length of time and number of elections as we have now seen since the NDP lost power in 2001.  16 years out of power means that very few NDP MLAs will have had any experience in government if they do win in the next election.   At the moment only Sue Hammell, Mike Farnworth, Leonard Krog and Jenny Kwan severed as MLAs in the 1991-2001 NDP government.  All of them other than Kwan are getting a bit old to expect them to continue, though Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan is 80 now.   There is a reasonable chance that an NDP government in 2017 would have no MLAs with experience of being in government.   The NDP is becoming a caucus of MLAs that know what it is like to the opposition and not much else and a number of them seem too comfortable with that.

It will be interesting to see how the NDP will handle this catastrophic hit to their morale and if they can really convince themselves they can win the 2017 election or if they will just dream of a right wing split to let them win.

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