Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The BC NDP needs a new leader before next summer

The BC NDP may or may not chose May 25th 2014 as the date for the leadership vote.  As long as the BC NDP does not have the new leader of the party in place the party will remain in an awkward limbo.   It is not the government in waiting, it has no clear direction or agenda, it is just marking time till the leader is chosen.

The preparation for 2017 has to start soon and that means a clear vision, program and team for the NDP.   That can not start to happen until you know who the leader is going to be.  The next leader will attract the people that want to be part of the next NDP government.   They will also be able to get people to volunteer and donate to the party.  

The longer Adrian Dix is the leader the longer the party is not building towards winning the next election.  The sooner he is gone, the sooner the NDP MLAs can stop having to talk about him as a sainted political hero.  Somehow the NDP can not allow itself to openly criticize people within the party that screwed up - however you want to measure it, Adrian Dix carries the can for losing this election and deserves public critiques by the party for that.  Instead the NDP on the record says everyone is a great and a hard worker while in private ripping them to shreds.

It was clear on election night to anyone that knows anything about politics that Adrian Dix could not lead the NDP in the 2017 election.  All the people that might be the next leader knew this by 10 pm on election night.   Everyone possibly interested in the leadership has had since then to decide if they want to do it and if they can find the team.   All the serious candidates have already asked around informally who will support them.   May 25th 2014 is a reasonable date to choose a new leader and allows for a more than long enough campaign for the candidates.

It seems some people, most specifically Nathan Cullen, are not happy with this date and would like to see it delayed.   This makes no sense to me because the provincial and federal parties are one and the same group.  Cullen has strong connections in the NDP in BC and whether or not they are federal or provincial is irrelevant.

Cullen had a strong campaign team for the NDP federal leadership race in 2012.  In fact his team and his supporter lists are newer and fresher than the ones John Horgan or Mike Farnworth had from the last BC NDP leadership race.   The people he counted on support from in 2012 are all still within the lapsed member category and not expired as many of the people that joined the NDP for the 2011 provincial leadership race.  His desire to have a later leadership race can not be based on his ability to mount a serious campaign.

Here is a radical idea, do not allow mass sign ups.  Hold the leadership race within the existing membership.   Leadership races tend to attract large numbers of members to parties of people who are paper members and not really the people that will do the work for the party.   If you hold the race among the existing members you are talking to the people that have been active in the party and making things happen.

For the NDP to be a serious threat to win in BC, and not win as they did in 1991 because of the collapse of Social Credit, the party needs to do the hard work on the ground.   In some research I am doing I am finding the NDP was very thin on the ground for volunteers in this last election, I have only found a handful of candidates that had large enough teams to do a traditional get our the vote style of campaign.

The NDP has to create 85 active constituency associations.  By active I mean at least 200 members, active social media presence, and raising at least $10,000 per year locally.  This is not an impossible task but it means actually building a strong locally based volunteer organization across the province.   It will not happen as long as the party has a Adrian Dix as leader.  It will also not happen if the next leader is just charismatic and not someone that pushes for the party to build at the grassroots.

May 25th is a reasonable compromise.
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