Even though the socialists are pounding at the gate, the Liberals’ Diva of Denial seems content to play word games.
On the heels of two jarring byelection defeats at the hands of the NDP, Premier Christy Clark’s plan to reverse the unraveling of her government is disarmingly simple. From now on if you utter the words “Liberal government” you have to put a Loonie in the swearing jar. From now on it’s “The Coalition.”
Yup, B.C.’s radio waves socialite turned political prom queen has taken a moment to peer into the 2013 looking glass and has concluded she must “seek advice and input on how to strengthen our free enterprise coalition.” With bludgeon-like subtlety, she substitutes the word “Coalition” for “Liberal” and assumes the free enterprise vote will flood home.
It is little wonder that influential B.C. Conservatives are starting to fill the leadership vacuum with substantive proposals for change on the right side of the political spectrum, changes that would almost certainly make it impossible for Clark to carry on as leader.
Leading the charge is one of the province’s most respected and influential Conservatives, John Reynolds. The former Socred MLA, former MP and current co-chair of Clark’s upcoming mega-fundraising bun toss says the Liberals must hold a convention before the 2013 provincial election and change the party name.
“Let’s find a name that’s acceptable to all sides,” he says. Reynolds believes that Conservative party leader John Cummins does not have enough traction to halt a migration of Conservative supporters to a freshly re-minted free enterprise coalition.
Reynolds’ game plan has the support of Independent Contractors and Businesses Association president Philip Hochstein, a prominent anti-union zealot who has been a steadfast, flag-waving Clark booster.
“If the Liberals and Conservatives started talking about how to unite rather than split the vote in B.C., they’d simply be catching up with the conservation that is already happening across the pro-free enterprise community,” he says. “If this is all about a name or label, then change it.”
There are three problems with this scenario.
First: Cummins’ staying power cannot be dismissed. He really wants to crush Clark like a bug and he now owns more than a third of the free enterprise vote even though his upstart party has no organizational machinery and very little money.
Second: no blending of Liberals and Conservatives can succeed while Clark remains at the helm. She says: “I’m not opposed … to changing the party’s name.” But she adds this caveat: “I’m going to be leading the free enterprise coalition into the next election.” If she really believes this is possible then she’s been sniffing too much pixie dust.
Finally, Reynolds, Hochstein, the premier and other 2013 deniers are convinced this is all about vote splitting. This is so wrong and so insulting. It presumes that individual free enterprisers are too politically brain dead to appreciate the implications of their lack of faith in Clark and the blurred Liberal vision.
Vote splitting is not the problem. It is the consequence of more than a decade of Liberal arrogance and presumption. It is the consequence of a decade long failure to adequately consult, a failure Clark will now repair with good intentions. It is the consequence of consolidating power around the leader while ignoring the grassroots except when foot soldiers are needed for campaigns. M