NDP dodges a bullet, but not out of the woods

The NDP was lucky not to have faced Dianne Watts as a prospective BC Liberal party leader. She and Carole Taylor declined the opportunity to run for leadership of the party. Unfortunate for party planners and strategists, because those two ladies were the only widely known BC Liberal members that had any positive rating at all. Every other name associated with the BC Liberals had either a slight negative rating to anĀ appalling negative rating as potential leader. Choosing any one of them would have only been slightly less devastating as keeping Gordon Campbell as leader.

As much as good news as this might sound for the NDP, its not clear sailing to a landslide majority in 2013. Its a long time from now, and the NDP has its own problems.

Carole James is seen as a moderate in some circles, but many British Columbians simply do not like her. I do not like her. I think she has missed almost every opportunity to advance the party, and she has lost two elections to Gordon Campbell. While some of her supporters try to credit her with rebuilding the NDP after 2001, its a misguided theory actually.

Former Leader Joy McPhail and only other NDP MLA Jenny Kwan were responsible for holding the torch for the NDP after the 2001 catastrophe, not Carole James. The upswing in support for the NDP has more to do with a traditionally centre-left province abandoning the BC Liberals after punishing the NDP in 2001 than some imagined adoring support for Carole James.

Until Carole James gets her personal approval rating above her negatives, and until those numbers approach the support levels of the party itself (sitting in the mid-to-high 40 percentages), then she is the wrong leader of the party.

Think of where the BC Liberals were at the same place in history when the NDP Government was on its electoral deathbed. Opposition Leader Gordon Campbell was hitting approval ratings in the 60’s. In fact, in August 1999, the BC Liberals had the support of 60% of BC voters, the NDP was looking at 14%; while BC Reform was ahead of them at 16%…that was almost 2 years away from the 2001 crushing the NDP got, but the polls didn’t improve much either.

There is every reason for the NDP to be sitting at 65% in the polls and the BC Liberals should be scrapping it out with the Greens and BC Conservatives for 3rd and 4th place…but they’re not. It must come down to leadership.

If the NDP fails to deal with its leadership problem, then the BC Liberals will. They’ll pick a leader that is somewhat distant to the scandal and outrage, they’ll pick a leader that can bring most of their electoral coalition back together, they’ll pick a leader that’s serious about winning – because the NDP won’t.