I was talking politics with a friend the other day. Surprise. In fact we were talking about Christy Clark. Bigger surprise.
We were discussing Clark’s puzzling seismic shifts in rhetoric when he said to me, “nobody can tell what she stands for.” And I said that I think its very clear what she stands for. “What Christy Clark cares about is Christy Clark,” I said. “End of story”.
And that’s where I disagree with Gary Mason.
Writing in Saturday’s Globe Mason says Clark has governed the last year with “no grand plan for what she wanted to achieve.” Instead of working on her plan she’s spent the year playing politics.
So far so good. He’s absolutely right. There is no plan, no group of ideas and policies that reflect her political beliefs and her analysis of what BC needs. She has offered nothing but words and campaigns all aimed at securing electoral success.
But then Mason veers off course. The rest of his column reads like a doting grandfather providing wise advice to his wayward granddaughter. Except the granddaughter is sitting on death row, covered in mutant tattoos with a sneer on her face and a smuggled knife in her hand.
“Try to do better, dear” he says as she prepares to take another hostage in an insane attempt to bust out of maximum security. It’s the third attempt this week.
Case in point is Mason’s head in the sand analysis of Clark’s problems with the electorate. “It’s not because the public has a long list of reasons to dislike the Premier,” Mason writes with no idea of why the public dislikes Clark, “it’s because they don’t have a long list of reasons to like her”.
I love reading readers comments and this bit of absolution provoked lots of long lists of reasons the public has to dislike the Premier.
They all begin with the awful about face that was Clark’s pro HST campaign, a campaign that encapsulates everything that’s wrong with her government. It started with a lie: The campaign would just provide information. It piled lie upon lie: It would be fair. Both sides would be funded equally.
And the campaign ended with scare tactics. The economy will die. You’ll all rot in a PST hell if you vote to get rid of the HST.
And then there was the final lie. It’ll take two years to undo.
Through the whole misconceived campaign the government proceeded to dump millions of scarce dollars into a round the clock defense of a discredited symbol of BC Liberal arrogance and lies.
The government’s HST campaign was the beginning of Clark’s fall and Mason doesn’t even bother to brush it aside.
The real problem that Mason doesn’t want to face is that Clark embraced Campbell’s policies while ditching his rhetoric. And she did it badly. She’s not even as competent as Campbell.
Mason’s view is that to turn this around Clark has to roll out her own program. The BC Liberals only hope he claims “is by developing a new political manifesto that is substantive, innovative and broadly appealing.”
This is Mason telling the judge that the delinquent in front of him is “a good girl in her heart, just give her one more chance.” And he fails to mention it’s at least her third try.
There’s nothing to suggest that any of it is true. Dig below the talking points of the day and the most cogent felt thing Clark ever says is “we can’t afford the NDP.” That’s it. There is no plan except “I want to be in charge.”
The only MO that makes sense for Clark is “elect me so I can be in power.”
Here’s what usually happens when governments reach this point. You don’t hold their hand and plead with them to develop a new plan.
You vote them out. You send them to purgatory where, if they are to survive, they start to rediscover what they are all about, what they did wrong, and what values and ideas they stand for.
Then they find a leader who embodies those values and ideas.
In the BC Liberals’ case it won’t be Christy Clark. And once they’ve done this hard work on their own time, they develop a plan. If it’s decent and makes amends for their previous errors they might get elected.
In other words, the BC Liberals need to steal a page from the NDP’s playbook