Saturday, October 16, 2010

Carol James: You GO, Girl! (Please)

At a time when it should be gearing up to replace the badly faltering Campbell Liberal Government in British Columbia, the NDP seems to be working rather hard to assist its opponents' resurrection. Or at least, the current shenanigans let the Libs catch their breath as news shifts from Gord-o's bald faced lying and the HST imbroglio, to how hapless NDP Leader Carol James has dumped a caucus member for disloyalty.

The skinny, for those who value their time too much for political soap opera, is that the legislative member for North Cariboo, Bob Simpson publicly criticized the lackluster speech James had given at the Union of BC Municipalities convention last month. In rather gently calling attention to the NDP leader's content-free remarks, Simpson had hardly been a dramatic news-maker. He merely pointed out the obvious: Carol's manifest inability to define and advance key public issues, which, in the 2008 election campaign, gave Campbell four more years of neo-con reign. Here are the comments, no more , no less, that got Simpson booted out:

"The Leader of the Opposition likewise had little concrete to offer the delegates other than a commitment to be more consultative than the current government and a promise to explore the possibility of revenue sharing with local governments. This is a timely concept which has the potential to address the resource needs of local governments, but the lack of specifics was a disappointment to delegates."

One wonders if all those years in the legislature in no way thickened Ms. James skin if this is enough to induce so hysterical an over-reaction. Yes, I know: the back story is that Simpson was a pain in the butt, an habitual gadfly for Carol -- but it is such unsympathetic feedback that a healthy organization needs to make sure alternatives are considered and progress as well as regress are well tracked. By implication, Simpson has hitherto kept this talk internal, only recently going public with his differing perspective, and then, as you can see, in wording so mild that any person of reasonably sound self-worth would shrug it off.

But, understandably in light of her ho-hum performance, James is especially on edge. She is not paranoid for the threat is real: much bigger long knives than Simpson's are now gathering. If she had the party's best interests at heart she would not force it to go through what now seems an inevitable and confrontational leadership bloodbath. She would stand aside, stay with the NDP and see if she can redefine herself and her role, putting her indubitably good heart and head to work in a supporting role that matches her abilities and shortcomings.

Contrary to the arrogant crap that Globe and Mail columnist Rod Mickleburgh promulgates, there are plenty of prospective, highly electable potential successors. Once the James lid comes off the pot, there are 33 other elected NDP caucus members and 9 federal ones to think about. Moreover as I advocated several months back in these pages, an ideal leader with a proven ability to bring Gord-O and his neo-con dogs to heel, is Mary-Ellen Turpel Lafond, BC's Representative for Children and Youth.