I checked out the Globe’s on-line discussion of the Point Grey by-election yesterday and was struck by how much the two local reporters resembled their federal colleagues during the recent federal campaign.
Basically, they didn’t have a clue what was going on.
Here’s how Globe reporter Rod Mickleburg kicked things off. “Easy pickings”, Mickelburg typed, “for the Premier, methinks….”
A little ways into it, following an exchange with fellow scribe Justine Hunter, Mickleburg began to show doubts as he typed “gosh, maybe i’m thinking it’s a slam dunk for Christy when it’s really more of a three-pointer, so to speak.”
Turned out it was a three-pointer.
All the hype, all the announcements, all the last minute attack ads and leaflets and BC Liberal GOTV and all the sitting premier got was a 500 vote win in a seat she should have taken in a cakewalk.
What’s that about?
First of all it’s about the great disconnect between those who chronicle our thoughts and actions and… well… most of the rest of us.
It’s my belief that for many reasons – not enough reporters, smaller news holes, news organization bias – journalists get too caught up talking to politicians while forgetting it’s the public who elects them, leading to a disconnect with the real lives of people.
Take this by-election. Story after story about Clark the waitress, Clark the people person and Clark the change magnet. You have to admit Clark’s spin dominated the news.
There was nothing about Clark the Campbell legacy inheritor, Clark the education cutter or Clark the children and families cutter. Even less about the HST or the superficiality of the change she’s pretending to represent. Yet it is a lingering and broad general doubt about the Liberal record that seems to underlie yesterday’s narrow result.
Yesterday, Justine Hunter pointed to the debate issue as Eby’s big score in the campaign. But that’s just not right. Clark’s refusal to debate is an issue about the political game. It’s not about people.
My take on the by-election is that a lot more people than the media gave credit to are tired of the BC Liberals and their general approach to government, no matter what name they paste onto the leadership. People have lost trust that the BC Liberals will govern for them. And it will take a whole lot more than a photo op in a cafeteria to change that perception.
Enough people in Point Grey felt this way to turn a cakewalk into a near disaster for the government.
There is no evidence that it was one particular issue – although the HST seems to me to symbolize everything you can’t trust in this government – but rather a general desire for change.
Put another way, the BC Liberals got a bit of a bump from the leadership change, but the honeymoon is over.
People are looking for substantive change, a real change of direction, not just a new, nicer, smooth talking head. If Adrian Dix and the NDP can deliver that in a clear, concrete way, while showing that Clark represents change in name only the coming provincial election may be as interesting and transformative as the recent federal election.
Two more things: the green vote collapsed last night in Point Grey – one of the greener ridings in BC. That’s got to send shivers down the Liberal’s backs.
And the 19 point advantage Clark held over Dix – touted by just about every media source after the election of Dix – has apparently disappeared.
Or worse. Maybe it never mattered because it’s not about personality right now. That’s really got to worry the folks over in the Premier’s office. Because all they’ve got is personality.