Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Wither BC Politics?

We have reached an interesting time in BC politics. We have a government that is moderate and centrist and is generally governing very well. There are no scandals of any significance. The economy is booming. The public is generally happy enough to forget about politics.

Meanwhile we have an opposition that seems to be in disarray. No one can tell me what the NDP supports as policy. The NDP seems to be divided about who they are and what they should be doing. There is no sense of any policy from the NDP on Aboriginal issues, forestry, mining, oil and gas or transportation. Basically, the NDP does not have a single coherent policy on all the issues that are core to the economy in BC.

The NDP is the opposition, but they seem to be unable to mount a serious opposition to the government. From 2001 - 2005 they can be forgiven because they only had 2 MLAs for most of that time. But they have had the largest opposition caucus in BC history since May 2005. In two and a half years they have floundered and not found a coherent approach to taking on the government. There are few stars that have emerged and a number of the touted stars have been less than stellar.

It is not good for BC to be governed without an effective opposition. No matter how good the government is, they will govern better if their feet are held to the fire on a regular basis.

The BC NDP needs a Tony Blair to come along and create the party into a modern left of centre party that is not caught up with the past issues or the current trendy issue.

Meanwhile we see the rise of a third party, the Greens. They seem to be consistently scoring around 10% in the polls. The Greens still need to figure out who they are and what they are about. They can still be a bit of everything for everyone. People presume that the Greens are a left wing party - though the partisan New Democrats keep on pointing out that they are not left wing at all.

Many Green supporters are soft New Democrat supporters, but they are not the majority. They also take support from the BC Liberals. They also draw in people that would not be voting. They are a legitimate political viewpoint that is not captured in BC politics at the moment.

There is another viewpoint that is missing in BC, the right wing. BC does not have either a fiscal conservative party or a social conservative party represented at the moment. This is not a good situation in my mind. The government has gone some way to be fiscally conservative, but in the last few years their spending has been rising quickly, much too quickly for fiscal conservatives.

What is really missing in BC politics is anyone representing the social conservatives. About 15 to 20% of BC's population is socially conservative and they do not have a voice in the legislature. They are either staying home or holding their nose and voting Liberal. This will not stay that way for the long term. At some point there will be a socially conservative party that comes out of the woodwork and takes a reasonable amount of the vote. One only needs to look at how well the BC Conservatives did in the few ridings where they did run in 2005.

I expect little to change before 2009, but between 2009 and 2013 we could see a fundamental shift in BC politics with or without BC STV being in place.

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