The polls have Gordon Campbell’s Liberals a massive 23 points behind the NDP. Though this is three years away from the next election one has to conclude that Gordon (Pinocchio) Campbell is electoral toast. It is he who has micromanaged his government from the start and thus it is he who is so unpopular. While it’s cheery to the NDP that they are at 46% the wise of them know that when you have over 1 out of 5 voters supporting the Greens or the Conservatives that nearly ¼ say a plague on both your houses and that something’s amiss. The Greens will be happy but they are born Pollyanna’s – they’ll still not take a seat.
There’s no need to dwell on Campbell – he is a horrible premier and the people are on to him and indeed were in the last election which he won because 50% of the voters stayed home and the NDP ran a pathetic campaign.
What about the leadership or lack of it shown by Carole James?
I’ve been very hard on her because she won’t do battle with the Liberals. I’ll tell you frankly how I could be wrong.
If the Liberals stay with Campbell in 2013 – and they may have no other choice – and if they continue to be lower than a snake’s belly in the polls, Ms. James tactic of staying cool and doing spade work constituency by constituency may pay off. The prospect of a premier that’s not always in your face may be appealing. Her gamble is that she will be listened to more and more the longer Campbell is Premier – that she will be seen as a statesman (sorry Carole, I just can’t spit stateswoman, statesperson out!) at a time when that will be the very thing people want.
There are two very important considerations Ms James must deal with. Whatever her strategy, she is owed the support of the party or the pink slip. And here is where the Liberals have their best thing going for them.
The NDP traditionally assassinate their leader. At the best of times they are at each others’ throats and these are not the best of times. Many blame Ms James for losing the last election and that, I can tell you from personal and close up observation, is unfair. After one fiasco that I was present at – the famous media flight over private power sites which was a shambles – I told her personally and in writing that whoever was running her campaign had a death wish for her which was clearly true. The NDP, if they want to win the next election – and it’s not always clear that they do want to win – they must either tell Ms James now that it’s time to go or rally behind her and her strategy.
What the NDP must do is make their decision now and base it on the assumption that there will be a new Liberal leader and if it’s Carole Taylor, Diane Watts or Mike DeJong it’s sort of like “new pitcher, new strikes” – a new game where past performance won’t much count…
What these numbers also tell me is that there is a golden opportunity here for a middle of the road party. This won’t likely happen as long as some who hate Campbell but loathe the NDP think that the public will vote for a party connected to Stephen Harper and run by Harperite Randy White. There’s a reason why Gordon Wilson, upon becoming leader of the BC Liberals, quickly seceded from the main party. He understood that British Columbians will not vote for a Liberal party or Conservative Party that’s a suburb of the national party. He knew that if he kept the federal association that the worst thing that could happen in a campaign was his federal leader endorsing him or, God forbid, campaigning for him. This rule doesn’t apply to the NDP because no one thinks the NDP will ever be the federal government.
These polls show two things for sure – the Liberals better get rid of Campbell before 2011 has passed and the NDP must either support Ms James or find someone they can all support and soon.