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´╗┐The Liberal leadership convention next February 26th is shaping up as an Old Boys and Girls rally. As outsiders, Carole Taylor and Diane Watts have counted themselves out. As with all leadership contests, especially those where the winner instantly becomes premier or prime minister, this one will have a lot of media coverage. That won’t mean much, however, unless the winner carries enough buzz with him/her to make a difference with the public.

Whoever wins will be a factor just because it isn’t Gordon Campbell. And this raises an interesting situation It was a former NDP cabinet minister and leadership hopeful who said, in a recent speech, that when you have demonized an opponent you run the serious risk that when that leader is gone, what voters were mad at is gone and then the public is giving the party the benefit of a sort of “new pitcher, new strikes” situation.

True as this statement is, unless the winner can somehow explain their role in a Campbell government, the benefits of a fresh start are not there.

There are, however, two former cabinet ministers who present grubby hands instead of filthy ones – namely Christy Clark and Carole Taylor. (Ms. Taylor says she’s out of the race but there have been many “non candidates” who have gone on to seek and win party leaderships). Ms Taylor is better positioned than Ms Clark if only because the public have decided to overlook her participation in any decisions made by her cabinet colleagues. She seems, to be “Teflon lady.”

Christy Clark, for some reason, is not so lucky although she sat in the same cabinet with the same people as Ms. Taylor did. She does have an edge over Ms Taylor through her weekly radio show although in this strange world, that may not give off that sense of aloofness Ms Taylor has.

With either these two women, the Liberals will still likely lose so that the prize sought next February will be at least 4 years in the penal colony that is the opposition.

One cannot look at the political situation in BC without looking at two other factors – the position of Carole James and the possibility of a viable new party of the “middle.”

Ms James is fighting off rivals. She is wrongly seen as weak but correctly identified as a politician who lacks the instinct to do and say the tough things. Oddly, in her firing of Bob Simpson, she was outwardly tough at a time when acting without Caucus’s involvement was seen as arrogant.

If she goes – and I don’t think she will – there’s a paucity of strong options. John Horgan, if his health is up to it, is an attractive candidate as are Adrian Dix and Mike Farnworth. What frightens off the voter, though, is the lack of united NDP support from the public, especially “swing” voters who need a leader who is tough to get their support.

The picture of the NDP as a united party must be there for them to win.

There have been many efforts to create new parties of the “middle” as the Socreds under Bennett, pere et fils were seen to be. New parties have broken down before they got started because of fights for the leadership that act as a screen hiding policies.

The Green Party always thinks it will be the party of the middle but they haven’t really come close to winning a seat for 25 years and have no realistic chance to change that in 2013.

What about the Tories?

I won’t waste effort dealing with this because they aren’t a factor except as posing a threat to take some rightwing votes away from the Liberals.

If Gordon Wilson and Chris Delaney could get their act together, a new Socred style party could emerge and could be a large factor.

As it stands, the main parties have the same problem – Leaders who can win. That probably means that Carole James must look and fight like an alley cat or is replaced by one who can and that the new Liberal leader can ask for trust without the electorate laughing itself to death.

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