Well, now, the leaders of both major parties in BC are in deep doo-doo especially Gordon “Pinocchio” Campbell at 9%. Actually I’m amazed and wonder who the devil are those in the 9%! At the same time the wheels on Carole James’s bandwagon have fallen off with the Caucus in revolt over the heaving of Bob Simpson from Caucus by the leader without notice to Caucus, much less a Caucus consensus.
Leaders of a political party are very difficult to depose especially if the party brass supports them as is the case, we must assume, with the NDP and the Liberals. We of a certain age saw how difficult it was for the Social Credit Party to get rid of Bill Vander Zalm in the late 80s. In his case it took a former Supreme Court judge, Ted Hughes to find him guilty of big time conflicts of interest before he would budge. By that time Mr Vander Zalm had sown the seeds of destruction within the party and, as some in the media (me) predicted, his refusal to budge from the premier’s office in good time brought the factions out and the party self destructed.
In fact, both the Liberals and NDP ought to look at the Vander Zalm case.
The fact patterns are different all around but there is this in common – their leaders became unpopular and, for different reasons, unelectable. It also appears, at this moment at any rate, that the parties themselves lack the will to depose their leaders and each of the leaders seems bent on staying on without any concern for the party. And it’s in the public interest that there be two parties, one on each side of the political spectrum. If one party crumbles because the leader is detested or seen as incapable of governing, the voter’s choice is to vote for a party that doesn’t suit their views, vote for a political corpse, fingers on the nose, or stay away from the polls. None of these options is in the public interest.
What about third parties?
The BC Heritage party holds right wing Christian notions and can never have anything remotely close to enough public support to win. The Greens – and at the core that’s where I am on environmental but not other issues – cannot get enough support to even elect an MLA much less become the government.
The BC First Party is mainly Chris Delaney and is positioned in the centre where the vacuum is. Delaney has a very good grasp of where British Columbians stand both on current issues and those which lie deep in their tummy. The problem is that Delaney seems unelectable although he has never been in a party that was electable. He is not, to put it kindly, charismatic. But neither was Pinocchio at his most popular and neither was Bill Bennett, but they each had the main asset needed for election – a substantial party and a core elector base.
Can Chris Delaney turn the BC First Party whose press releases are deleted even before they are opened?
It’s a long shot. All new parties attract tarnished wanabes from elections past where their public acceptance hovered near 0%. This makes it difficult for a new party to be taken seriously. For all their peccadilloes, voters want a party leader to look and sound like he/she can actually govern.
For the Liberals to win again they must have a new leader, new policies, and a commitment to environmental issues.
For the NDP they have two choices – stay with Ms James and hope that the Liberals don’t recover and that a new party doesn’t eat away at their Centre-Left position or it can change leaders.
There’s one rule of politics that never changes – once the leader has a revolt, however big or small, that leader is almost certainly wounded past his/her ability to recover.
For their parties to be in decent shape to fight the next election, their leaders must go, in the very near future, so the new leader has a chance grasp the nettle and run with it.
And if this column does nothing else you must admit it closed with one hell of a good mixed metaphor.