That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Huzzahs and challenges for the BC NDP

After offering her best wishes to the outgoing premier, Carole James was quick to adjust the narrative in the essential way:

“We must also remember that all B.C. Liberals played a part in the HST deception. All B.C. Liberals played a part in the slashing of public services, in the growth of social inequality we’ve seen in B.C. over the past decade,” she said.

Doesn’t seem like a huge adjustment, perhaps, but the BC NDP have, of late and necessarily, focussed their attention on the person of Gordon Campbell. It’s Campbell’s BC Rail deal, it’s Campbell’s HST, it’s Campbell’s cuts, arrogance and gall.

Without Campbell, there is an urgent need to apply the same criticisms to the BC Liberals en masse. British Columbians’ anger at the provincial government can no longer be effectively personified in the very person of Gordon Campbell.

British Columbians’ collective relief will inevitably prelude a Liberal bounce, which is the challenge to NDP unity. Carole James, and the whole of her caucus, need to be prepared to weather the honeymoon, and pre-empt it, despite the leadership turbulence she’s personally suffered recently. If the NDP falter on the rocks of self-doubt and nervousness in the next six months, they’ll have trouble recuping.

The timing is both a blessing and a curse. With years left before an election (unless the new premier calls an early election in early- to mid-2011, which is perfectly likely if they feel the honeymoon looks sustained and provides advantage), the Campbell rust could have well washed away from the BC Liberals by 2012 or 2013 (and more likely sooner), enabling them to resurge as a viably “change-focussed” force. Conversely, a couple of years is enough time for British Columbians to diagnose a terminal case of Campbellitis from root-to-tip in his party long after he’s gone. Unless the incoming premier makes some big and different moves – an HST reverse-course? Some amazing re-investment in health care? An apology over BC Rail? – the rust may come back despite the polish.

James has the task of diagnosing Campbellitis at every opportunity. And her caucus needs to hold their nerve during the inevitable Liberal honeymoon and continue to appear a cohesive and viable alternative. Rumblings otherwise could give Gordo the last laugh, whatever he does with himself now.

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It’s sword-fall o’clock

Gordon Campbell’s about to make an important announcement of some kind, and one can safely bet he’s not about to confess a longstanding addiction to cigarettes, or Scrabble. No, he’ll be playing seppuku alright, but there shall be no triple word score for Mr. Campbell.

Nothing ultimately surprising for a premier with 9% approval ratings. I am, however, quietly (well, not anymore) devastated in a way that Campbell shall be forced out so long before a provincial election. Carole James will be crying the loudest tonight – BC Liberal fortunes can only rise from here. If the BC NDP can keep a strong “same old Liberals” message for the next couple of years, it might not hurt their prospects too badly. But it’s not going to help too much either.

Filed under: Canada, Politics, , , , , , ,


November 2010

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