While some are being morose and hear the death bell tolling for the NDP, I am not feeling morose, nor do I hear any bells of death.
I do hear, and feel, a tremendous sense of relief for the thousands of people who had lost their faith in the future of this province. It is not without a certain melancholy that we feel this relief though – Carole has done much for politics in this province over the years, and even more for women who may choose to enter this often nasty and ruthless arena of public service. She is a strong,vital woman, a wonderful and caring mother, supporter, mentor, and a genuinely compassionate person who cares for others- a quality often lacking in politicians of any leaning.
However, this is an important day in the history of this province, not for the media attention the resignation of Carole James will invariably garner, but for what this day represents.
Change is inevitable, and if you stand in the way, it will run you over like a steamroller. Indulge my thoughts, please – I am certainly no political analyst, but this is the way I see it.
When the NDP lost last years election, it was not truly a surprise. There was a certain point in the lead up to the polls where Carole seemed to suddenly disengage from the process. Certainly, she was out there full force, meeting people, shaking hands, campaigning to the last possible moment… but something changed. For me, it seemed like towards the end they lost the voters through their messaging. Carole’s words did not seem genuine, but scripted. Did not seem passionate, but desperate. And the voters picked up on that. No cigars to be had, and a time for serious reflection for both the party, and the members.
But for whatever reason, the party decided not to have a leadership review until 2011 – a big mistake in my view, considering the past year.
I’ve been reading a lot of comments on various blogs, the anger in both camps is clear. But what is not clear to those supporting Carole James to the bitter end- and yes, it is bitter from what I can see- is that for some time,despite process, despite rules and regulations, James and the executive have forgotten about the people of BC. And in resigning today, for whatever motivation is truly behind this move, Carole has given new hope to the those people who never truly mattered to the Liberals,and have felt alienated by what is perceived as the only other choice in leadership.
I mentioned on Ian Reid’s blog recently, that it does not matter how many caucus members support Carole, nor does it matter that the executive recently voted in support of her, because if the perception largely exists among the voters that she is not capable, if the public has lost any interest in the words she speaks, it is all over regardless of their internal support. It is no secret the Liberals wanted desperately for Carol to stay- her leadership will guarantee a Liberal win again,as much as it pains me to say this.
I look at the voters relationship with Carole as leader, kind of like an unhappy marriage. You get used to your partner, things are comfortable,and so even though there is no real connection between the two, it’s easier and seems safer to stick with what you know. It’s comfortable, if not fulfilling or effective. Things go nowhere and stagnate if left like this for too long, with neither party willing to change for the better. Get what I am saying?
This was Carole and the membership of the NDP, and the public. The only difference is that the unhappy NDP members, and a good portion of the voting public, have been brave enough to face the truth that this relationship isn’t working for both parties anymore, and that something had to change. Unfortunately, Carole and her supporters did not see this, or did not care to see this, and it created what became a hostile separation. With today’s divorce, perhaps the NDP can see fit to find the person who is willing and capable to lead the party in a way that gives the people of BC a new hope for a future that it planned,committed and full of progressive, strategic actions.
My hope is that the holiday season is a time for reflection for the NDP caucus- each of them -and for the NDP membership. Those among the so-called dissidents are not safe from the same lack of action that plagued Carole. Many are calling for Leonard Krog’s head because of the perception he has done nothing to assist getting to the truth behind the Basi-Virk trial and the sale of BC rail. And there are others who seem to have been branded as opportunists who may have to face the music in any coming election unless they get out there and are seen as progressive workers for those who voted for them. Still yet will be the questions surrounding the MLA’s who stood in firm support for a leader the people no longer believed could get the job done. Each must look inside of themselves, and determine why they are in their position, and how they can serve the people who voted for them. No one person will be immune from the same fate that brought this unfortunate end to Carole’s leadership. Fail to act, fail to inspire confidence, and you too will be gone.
To be certain, there is much work to be done for this party to not only survive but flourish. Both morale and image are tarnished, and if there are clear policies on issues that arise in the press, certainly we have seen little coverage of this. But now that Carole is gone, there is still a very large obstacle within the party – Moe Sihota, who can never be anything but a liability to the party for several reasons. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, for the majority of British Columbians, than name is synonymous with corruption and dishonesty – two things that British Columbians have had enough of with the Liberals. The NDP must wave good-bye to him, because he will never do anything for them that could realisticlly compensate for the negativity that comes with his public persona.
Another smart move would be to hire some staff with the Moe payroll, staff that is both politically savvy, media friendly, and well versed in the power of social media -three hallmarks to any successful campaign or public presence. The NDP have little to offer in this capacity, and in a world where everyone is twittering, facebooking and blogging, use it or lose it. A successful strategy in this area alone would do wonders to engage and connect those lost since the last election, and will bolster donations as well as attract a younger audience to the party- and the younger college group are very politically active. One might be surprised how much money would come in as a result of these changes.
Support these actions with firm, substantiated GOOD POLICIES on every issue that presents itself, that offer realistic courses of action to address the challenge. This electorate is far more politically involved, concerned and knowledgable than they were before the last election. Half-assed rhetoric is not going to cut it with anyone, nor will platitudes or accusatory speeches that contain no alternative to what the Liberals have to offer. Even the new BC first party has done a far better job of demonstrating many of the suggestions I am making, and that is saying something considering their relatively small membership and new presence. It doesn’t take a lot of people, just a few talented ones with connections to achieve what I am saying.
These are extraordinary times, and such a period calls for extraordinary measures. What worked before will not work now in this current political climate. If we are to save this province, all of us, regardless of left or right or middle of the road, it is going to require a concentrated effort and there is no time to lose.
There is risk in changing, and some within the NDP will fight it tooth and nail, and might leave or quit, but this is to be expected. Oh well. What is important to remember is that there are far more ‘others’ who will come along and join this party because of the change, and that is what matters. Georges Jaques Danton once said:
” At last I perceive that in revolutions the supreme power rests with the most abandoned.”
The abandoned have won this battle, with Carole James resignation. We shall see what comes next.