Tuesday, December 17, 2013

2017 would be 16 years our of power for the NDP in BC - that brings problems if they form government

In 2017 it will have been 16 years since the NDP was in power.  The chances are that they will have almost no one left with previous government experience and if they win they will be like entirely novice first time government, again.

One problem with a party that has been out of power for a long period is that institutional knowledge of the party is weakened making a smooth transition to a new government less likely.  In 2013 it had been 12 years since the NDP had been government and going into the election the NDP had five MLAs that had served as part of the 1991-2001 government.  If they had won there would have been a small core of MLAs with experience as part of government and part of cabinet.
  • Mike Farnworth MLA 1991-2001, 2005-current
  • Sue Hammell MLA 1991-2001, 2005-current
  • Harry Lali MLA 1991-2001, 2005-2013
  • Leonard Krog MLA 1991-1996, 2005 to current 
  • Jenny Kwan MLA 1996-current 
Several of the NDP MLAs elected since 2005 do have government experience in the form of being political staffers in the 1991-2001 government.  Adrian Dix and John Horgan are the ones I am certain of, but there might a another couple.

With the defeat of Harry Lali, the NDP is down to four MLAs that have served in government.  How many of them are likely to run again in 2017?   I expect several of them not to run again.  I am not sure any of the four will run again.

Comparable to 2013 was the 1986 election when the NDP had a total of six of their 1972-75 government members run and get elected:
  • Emery Barnes
  • Chris D'Arcy
  • Colin Gabelmann
  • Don Lockstead
  • Bob Skelly
  • Dave Stupich
Of these six, three retired and did not run in 1991, two were re-elected and one was dumped by the party and ran as an independent (Chris D'Arcy).  After 16 years our of power, the 1991 NDP government only had Colin Gabelmann and Emery Barnes with previous experience in government.  Neither Gabelmann nor Barnes were major players in the Barrett government.  What this meant was that the NDP started government in 1991 effectively as a first time government much as they had in 1972, as Bob Rae did in Ontario, or Darrell Dexter did in Nova Scotia.

Being a first time government is hard because there is a learning curve to governance.   The 1991 NDP government had one thing going for them, the Official Opposition Liberals were not ready to be an opposition and knew nothing of how to hold a government to account.  The 1972 Social Credit opposition was much harder on the Barrett government than the 1991 BC Liberals.

By comparison, the 2001 BC Liberal government had four former Social Credit MLAs who had been in government and three of them with cabinet experience
  • Graham Bruce
  • Stan Hagen
  • Harold Long
  • Claude Richmond
The 2001 BC Liberal government also has the advantage that the small NDP caucus did not look like a government in waiting.

I have no idea what the outcome of the 2017 election will look like, but the lack of experience in government for the New Democrats will make an NDP government weaker than it should be.

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