“The NDP gets knives out… they credit the party leader with doing a good job of rebuilding the party…but cannot take it to victory.”
“There is some perception of lack of depth which seems to hurt…”
“Discontent rumbling in NDP… some sections of the present organization has become listless and demoralized…”
It was a bad week for the NDP when it should have been a really bad week for the government.
They had just won a by-election but by a narrower margin than predicted and the knives came out almost immediately…
Wait. Stop. Yes, the knives are drawn in the NDP and some are saying all of the above. But there was no by-election last week to precipitate this. What the heck is this Reid person talking about?
Time to cop a plea to a literary device here.
The quotes are from the Winnipeg Free Press circa 1997, not the Vancouver Sun November 2010. They come from a dark time within the Manitoba NDP, two years before four-term leader Gary Doer swept to victory in the 1999 election.
Exactly. Gary Doer, the most successful New Democrat Premier in Canadian history went through the same kind of battle Carole James is going through now.
And like she did today, he won out. Within two years he was Premier serving the first of his three terms in government.
Before that came to pass Doer went through his 40 days in the wilderness. Like Carole James, Doer had brought the party back from the dead, following the collapse of the Pawley government. Unlike BC, the Manitoba NDP was a bit more forgiving. Doer was on his fourth try before dissent erupted.
Here’s what Doer said about his critics in 1997: “All of us as New Democrats share the same objective, which is to defeat the Conservatives. Some, the clear majority, want to go with someone who has improved the party’s fortunes in every election and brought it back from oblivious to being the alternative… in seven years. And some, a small minority, want to go with someone else who they believe might improve our fortunes even more. But they don’t know who that is.”
It’s a perfect description of where the BC NDP is at today.
The Manitoba party chose to put down the knives, back the leader and go to work opposing the Conservatives and proposing change that Manitobans could get behind. They were in worse shape when they chose that course than the BC NDP is in now.
In 1999, the Manitoba NDP was behind the governing Conservatives and Doer was far behind the Tory leader, Gary Filmon. But they exploited the government’s problems, moved to the centre and sometime in the middle of the ‘99 campaign moved ahead. They maintained that lead through all three of Doer’s terms as Premier.
James is better positioned today, than Doer was in 1997. She’s a better speaker. She’s a great campaigner. The Liberal brand is badly damaged and they can’t attract an outsider of any caliber. They’ll be stuck with someone tightly tied to the Campbell record.
And then there’s the record. The Liberals still have the legacy of the HST hanging around their necks. They have BC Rail, privatization and an unworkable re-org of government ministries. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. No opposition in Canada has more to work with.
The main thing James has going against her is any sign of disunity within the party. If the caucus and the party can rise to her challenge today she will be BC’s next Premier.