Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BC NDP leader Carole James looks for support from business bullies who beat up her party. Again.

Carole James faces media outside BC Supreme Court, August 2010 - Bill Tieleman photo


Why Carole James Is Too Nice to Business

BC's NDP leader looks in the wrong place for support, blurring her party's real appeal.

Bill Tieleman's
24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday September 28, 2010

By
Bill Tieleman


"Don't Risk Your Paycheque and Job on the NDP."


- Coalition of B.C. Businesses 2009 pre-election campaign slogan

Carole James wants to make friends with the bullies who keep beating up her New Democratic Party. Again.

On Friday night, B.C. NDP leader James tried once more to extend the hand of friendship to a B.C. business community that has repeatedly replied by giving her the finger, holding a $295 per plate fundraiser titled: "An Evening with Carole James for Business in B.C."

There's no reason to expect a different response this time, even with Premier Gordon Campbell having sunk the BC Liberal Party to new depths of unpopularity with his Harmonized Sales Tax torpedo.

That's because business understands something James and her advisors keep missing -- they aren't looking to help a social democratic, labour-friendly political party whose policies they despise become the government.

Business knows the BC Liberal Party is their party -- they fund it, they run it and they will not leave it for the NDP, ever.

If absolutely necessary, business will throw Campbell over the side for a new leader -- but they won't change sides.

Words that can't be taken back

Oh sure, some smart corporate leaders pay lip service to James -- after all, with the NDP somewhere between
42 per cent and 48 per cent in the current polling compared to the BC Liberals at between 25 per cent and 33 per cent, it's quite possible they could form government in 2013.

But not if business has anything to say about it.

The Coalition of B.C. Businesses made that clear before the May 12, 2009 provincial election, launching a vicious attack on James and the NDP.

"Jobs are at risk on May 12. Higher taxes and higher payroll costs featured in the NDP platform will put at least 110,000 British Columbians out of work and put at risk the viability of B.C.'s small and medium-sized businesses," read the Coalition's breathless May 5 news release.

"In short, the NDP platform will hold B.C. back by working against recovery. A BC Liberal platform will help small businesses keep people employed, and get a jump-start on recovery," the Coalition
concluded.

Not a lot of subtlety in that message -- business loves B.C. Liberals!

The Coalition members listed in the release was a who's who of business organizations -- from the BC Chamber of Commerce to the BC Hotel Association to Retail BC -- claiming to represent more than 50,000 B.C. businesses.

And Premier Gordon Campbell was helpfully cued up for their attack.

"I think people do have to ask themselves why is it that no major employer in British Columbia has supported the NDP," Campbell
told the media that same day.

Friend of employers, or the employed?

Why indeed?

Perhaps because major employers recognize their own best interests don't include a minimum wage increase, labour laws to even the playing field for workers and unions, corporate tax increases, publicly-owned services and more social programs?

You know, the sort of things the NDP is expected to do.

Yes, some progressive small and even larger businesses don't "hate" the NDP and might even agree with some party policies.

But they are a distinct minority that will not speak out.

The overwhelming corporate view is to support the BC Liberals -- that's why business gave that party $8.6 million of its $11.9 million raised in 2009, or 72 per cent of all donations.

Business donations alone to the BC Liberals add up to more than total NDP donations from all sources -- $6.7 million -- while business contributions to the NDP were just $268,000.

James doesn't seem to acknowledge that. Her speech last Friday did deal with questions about her leadership and also her courtship of B.C. business.

James's speech

James said in her prepared
speech notes:


"And so even though I have been criticized for reaching out to, and meeting with, B.C.'s business community...



"'Come on Carole, they'll never vote for you. They campaigned against you! That's not the way politics is done in B.C.'



"I will continue to welcome business to my table, not to earn their vote, but because it's the right thing to do.



"The future we all want for our province is not possible without a strong and dynamic private sector.


"Risk must be rewarded. Innovation encouraged.



"The wealth created by business and entrepreneurs helps pay for the services that make for a just and fair society.

"We can't have one without the other.



"That's why I will work with B.C. business to promote trade and open markets.

"It's why I'll support small business by maintaining a competitive tax environment."

But the results of James's relentless pursuit of business approval, despite their past disdainful response, may be a major reason why she and the NDP face significant challenges ahead.

How much traction for James and NDP?

Despite the BC Liberals' disastrous drop of 21 per cent in voter support since the election -- from 46 per cent to just 25 per cent today -- the NDP has only
gained six per cent since 2009 if it is indeed at 48 per cent, or nothing if at 42 per cent.

This in the midst of a complete collapse of government support due to the wildly unpopular HST, a budget deficit that was six times larger than Campbell swore pre-election and the B.C. legislature raid trial.

The Green Party, which has been invisible and actually supports the HST, sits at 12 per cent or 13 per cent, and the once-dead BC Conservatives have risen to between eight per cent and 11 per cent.

And while Campbell is Canada's most unpopular premier, with an approval rating of just 12 per cent according to
Angus Reid Public Opinion, James's own approval rating is only 30 per cent -- lagging behind her party's support.

The NDP is also rumored to currently have just 11,000 active members and faces a cash crunch.

The last publicly reported membership
tally by the party was 13,500 in July, 2010.

Seven years earlier, in the Nov. 2003 leadership campaign, the party reported that it had "well over 13,000" members.

Either way, the party is not growing, and its membership stands at a fraction of the numbers enjoyed in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Signs the party is wilting

The James-led NDP ditched directly affiliated union memberships -- claiming at the time it would prove labour does not run the NDP.

No sign of acknowledging that from business to date, but it did cost the NDP hundreds of thousands of dollars in dues.

Add that to the fact that in the 2009 election 40,000 fewer voters cast a ballot for the NDP than in 2005 and it is obvious there is a problem.

While James and NDP president Moe Sihota focus on trying to
gain business acceptance and media commentator approval, the party is wilting.

What James has failed to deliver is a clear understanding that in British Columbia politics, lines are drawn and sides are chosen -- like it or not.

B.C. business knows which side it's on, and it ain't the NDP's.

Nothing wrong with that. The BC Liberals are unabashedly giving business what it wants in a way the NDP could never do.

That's why even in the midst of the BC Liberals' worst crisis, business groups are propping up Campbell and launching shameless campaigns to support the hated HST.

But now is when the NDP should be rallying the troops, filling its war chest, exciting a growing membership with new plans to invigorate the province and preparing to put an end to the BC Liberal favoritism shown to its corporate friends by an otherwise mean-spirited government.

Instead the NDP again tries to win over its most intransigent enemies, and the results will be entirely predictable.

Isn't it time for a different strategy?


.



21 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill is dead on with this article.
The NDP reminds me of Obama.. always trying to curry favor with the GOP that hates his guts. Carole need to get this party back to its roots. Does she seriously expect that BC Business community leaders will do anything other than what they always do, which is to trash and distort anything the NDP proposes. What would the Business community have done if an NDP government had lied about bringing in the HST? They would have been apoplectic..frothing at the mouth about the democratic process being ignored. Their good buddy Gordo does it and its the greatest thing to ever happen to the Province. Wake up NDP or you will forever be in Opposition.

Anonymous said...

Has to be one of Bill's stupidest columns. Read like it was meant for the NDP's Democrat newspaper.

C'mon Tieleman if you're supposedly this journalist, you can write a better balanced article than that and still get paid for it by 24 Hours.

Anonymous said...

Bill:

Harvey O, Just after the last election had a write up why the NDP should not change Leaders too soon,and wait till it's closer to the next election....good read...
Check with him...Chow

Anonymous said...

You know what you're talking about Mr. T.

If the NDP sticks to its roots the centre-right will think it's safe to splinter and then the NDP stand a chance of getting in. If the NDP moves away from its base and tries to appeal to the centre then the centre-right will get nervous and will pull together and support someone like Gordo if not Gordo himself.

DPL said...

I find it hard to fault Bill's writing on the subject. The lady was my MLA up till the ridings got adjusted.Thank goodness for that change.She didn't communicate with her voters as most MLA's do. I asked her senior staffer why we were left in the dark. The answer was laughable. While writing about long delays on medical issues, she finally emailed and told me she was not my advocate. When I asked why the taxpayers were paying for a community office, to answer taxpayers concerns, I got blasted again. Yes the NDP had two MLA's when King Gordo took over, and yes a lot more folks voted NDP the next time, but not any increase on the last election. I always thought that about three attempts mean its time to go. The party has some pretty active MLA's and maybe it's their turn.

But business looks after business and to hell with everyone else. We have a choice. Re-elect a proven liar or someone who dithers about so many things.

Anonymous said...

Well as a equal-hater of all parties, leaders and political trained seals its no wonder BC is the Most F_ _ -ED Place on Earth.

If Carole was around in 1938 she would have given away Europe even faster than history's other great appeasing dish-rag Neville Chamberlain did.

You may also speculate on where the Honourable Gordon Campbell fits into that bit of European History!

The GREAT SATAN

Anonymous said...

I've been NDP for over 40 years, as long as she's leader I'll be voting ABC - Anyone But Carole.

When you lose 3 elections to a lying drunk, it's time to pack up and let someone else take a shot at possibly changing things. Providing of course you're smart enough to recognize you're a major part of the problem when it comes to losing at election time.

Let's face it; business will NEVER support you Carole, they may placate you, appear to woo and accept you to keep you in place until election time, then they're gonna drag you through the mud and laugh while doing it. Big business wants you there, you're the greatest political gift the liberals have ever received. Not my words - words from the libs themselves. Truth.

Zoozie said...

Hmm, you would like to see a different strategy. Well, the NDP leadership has decided on a strategy. So which party will you be supporting for the next election?

Some random thoughts about the column. Just because you ignore the Green party doesn't make them invisible. Let's see $11.9 million vs $6.7 million vs $125,000. Gee, I wonder if that has anything to do with them not being as noticeable. So Liberals and NDP essentially buy votes while Green attracts people on principle.

You mentioned NDP membership is a fraction of what it used to be. What exactly is that fraction? 3/4? 9/10? I suppose it could even 5/4. Please fill us in exactly how much your prose is distorting the truth.

Is it significant that James's support is less than party support? So is Campbell's and it doesn't seem to hamper his ability to be Premier. What about Green and Conservative, how do their leaders approval ratings stack up? Do the Conservatives even have a leader at this point?

". . . in British Columbia politics, lines are drawn and sides are chosen -- like it or not." I guess one of those drawn lines is whether you like it or not. Which side are you on there, the NDP or Liberal side, oh wait, they're the same.

Just like they both represent people with wealth. I regularly struggle to make it to my next paycheck and I'm not close to minimum wage. Liberals are thieves but the NDP has nothing better to offer me.

$295 towards a group of greedy people that have more than enough already, just hearing about this dinner turns me off the NDP more. Where's my voice in government?

Anonymous said...

Carole James last I checked IS the leader of the NDP and you Tielemen are exactly who to call her credentials into question? Maybe once you have walked a mile in Carole James shoes you are fit to criticize but until then you are nothing more than an insignificant fart in the wind.

Why don’t you run to be the leader of the NDP if you are such a know it all ?

Anonymous said...

Bill, your last sentence of this article should really read: "Isn't it time the NDP get a new leader?"

Hell, at this pathetic rate even little I should proclaim myself a leadership candidate.

West Coast Gal said...

I think you do have to be careful with sweeping generalizations about business Bill. Not that business organizations don't fund the Liberals, but that individuals who run small businesses all have votes. And many small businesses, who do employ the majority of people, appreciate having social programs for their workers. Carole is right to reach out to moderate small business owners as there is a constituency there that doesn't appreciate their efforts to create employment being characterized as evil. I speak out at my local Chamber of Commerce where opinions are divided. I would say half our members might well vote NDP, even if the provincial organizations would never represent our opinions out that way. Small businesses often appreciate that unions create a level playing field for their own bids, even if they're not organized themselves.

Anonymous said...

"Carole James last I checked IS the leader of the NDP and you Tielemen are exactly who to call her credentials into question? Maybe once you have walked a mile in Carole James shoes you are fit to criticize but until then you are nothing more than an insignificant fart in the wind."

Actually he can call the leader's credentials into question. Just as any member within a political party can. Remember the leader is never ever above its leader.


Why don’t you run to be the leader of the NDP if you are such a know it all ?

He isn;t that dumb to do it. He has taken the smart way. Became a worker for a leader, got paid for it without the public heat.

Disagree with his writing in regards to the NDP, but he does make good basic points as to where the NDP should start working to build itself.

Anonymous said...

If you are going to criticize Carole James for reaching out to business, how about instead criticizing HOW Carole James reaches out to business. As most everyone has pointed out, Carole James makes absolutely no specific policy discussion or even remotely discusses what her policies or even thoughts on business are. Give that she has never once spent a day in her life in the business community these types of views are important. Her failure to articulate anything of any real substance other then comparing herself to John Wayne and Lagy GaGa is as alarming as it is disturbing.

The Business community is not like the NDP consistency who will endlessly vote NDP simply because it is the NDP. Carole James needs to either understand what it will really take to legitimately bring business on board, or she will continue to pay lip service and find herself and her platform opposed by most every single employment sector as she was during the last campaign.

How some of you think Bill is wrong to point out the patently obvious is beyond me.

Anonymous said...

"If Carole was around in 1938 she would have given away Europe even faster than history's other great appeasing dish-rag Neville Chamberlain did."

Another oblique obsessive reference to The Great Devilled Ham's hero, Adolph.

The Great Satan -- B.C.'s finest devilled ham

Anonymous said...

Everyone is missing the point. Carole and her advisors know that business will never support them, but these little shows to business have nothing to do with wooing business, but showing voters that she is, or at least trying to. And that Bill, is good politics, and i'm sure you know that so why this silly criticism?

Marian said...

Time for the NDP to get a new leader. I keep hearing from people they can't vote for the NDP with James in charge.

DPL said...

Lots of anons giving all sorts of advice and complaints about the blog owner. Some blogs don't print the opinion of anons. If one has an opinion, right or wrong they should have the ability to give themselves a name, other wise one person can be a number of anons with various opinions. It's easy, just pick something like your own initials if you have a problem with names.

But it is true that some folks vote NDP for years as the other party option isn't very good. I do agree that if a so called leader can't outshine a convicted drunk, compulsive liar, giver away of much of BC's raw materials, flogs off our rivers to private companies, and promise breaker, the NDP is in deep trouble. I for one will never forgive her for breaking a treaty policy brought forward by the previous NDP government allowing some band in Tsawwassen to get Agricultural land with no strings attached. Sure Gordo did the deal but Carole James jumped right in and agreed, just as she did with MLA pensions and large wage increases.
Leader ship change? Well that's up to the party membership not us or a bunch who actually have a name or a bunch of anons. Good article Bill T.says DPL . See anons it's not all that difficult

Anonymous said...

"Leader ship change? Well that's up to the party membership not us or a bunch who actually have a name or a bunch of anons. Good article Bill T.says"

It is up to the membership, being anon in a blog has nothing to do with what the NDP does in the end.

If you want to be a part of that, take out a membership. Be involved.

Writing into a hobby blog isn't going to do anything in itself to change how the NDP looks to the electorate. They certainly will not govern themselves according to opinions in one blog done as a hobby or any other blog.

Harmony said...

Thanks Anon 11:56 for your wonderful advice. "If you want to be a part of that, take out a membership. Be involved." And why exactly would I want to be a part of whatever happens with the NDP?

Not that I won't welcome the end of the Liberal regime but the NDP would be just substituting one criminal organization for another, regardless of who the leader is. Or even worse, maybe the right wing will get together under the Conservative name by 2013 and continue to stifle the NDP.

Who knows what is happening with the Green Party, completely lacking any candidates with experience at the provincial level? If they can't attract anyone with a fraction of political clout to take a chance then why should I waste my money joining them?

And that leaves a whole lot of options with pseudo parties which may not even contest future elections. Yep, get involved. As soon as it's okay to get rid of MLA's without going through the hassle of Recall.

Anonymous said...

And why exactly would I want to be a part of whatever happens with the NDP?"

and why not? If you're left wing, it is the party of left wingers. If you're right wing, there are others, but we'll see how they play out.

"Not that I won't welcome the end of the Liberal regime but the NDP would be just substituting one criminal organization for another, regardless of who the leader is."

You'll find that in any party. Take the provincial Conservatives. They are in a power play right now.
Nothing new. Except they haven't been represented in the legislature since the 1970's.

" Or even worse, maybe the right wing will get together under the Conservative name by 2013 and continue to stifle the NDP."

Names mean piddly-squat unless there is something the voters as a majority will go for. Right now there isn't anything. Sellling a party during a provincial election on the merits of one successful petition drive isn't going to do it.


Who knows what is happening with the Green Party, completely lacking any candidates with experience at the provincial level? If they can't attract anyone with a fraction of political clout to take a chance then why should I waste my money joining them?

I wouldn't. They not even really Green!! Look at the way many dress, few if any natural fibres, or natural dyes, they drive cars, many which are most likely not tuned to factory specifications, the office is loaded with plastic office equipment, and they write using pens which have oil based writing inks. Bleached toilet paper in the washrooms, etc. etc.

"And that leaves a whole lot of options with pseudo parties which may not even contest future elections. Yep, get involved. As soon as it's okay to get rid of MLA's without going through the hassle of Recall."

YOu can get rid of them in an election, so who do you replace them with?

peter kelly said...

The problem with the NDP is not Carole James. The NDP's problem is the NDP itself. Since 1961, its been the only party that represents the centre-left, while every generation it seems that the centre-right re-organizes and starts up a new party to represent their big tent. The NDP doesn't own the progressive movement and maybe its time that progressives pick up and move on...form a new party of the left (etc). After a while, a party accumulates too much baggage and negative legacy, and the NDP has almost hit its best before date (if not already).
BC is a majority progressive province. More people voted NDP and Green in 2009 than all of the conservative ballot options combined. BC is ready for a new party to represent the mainstream progressives that dominate this province.