November 3, 1948 the Chicago Tribune infamously prejudged the outcome of the presidential election and declared Thomas Dewey the victor over Harry Truman, fast forward 65 years and much like the people at the Chicago Tribune, the pundits prejudged the outcome of this election and were confronted with an outcome they never thought could happen.
Similarly, the NDP went from developing transition plans and planning victory night celebrations over the weekend to being stunned by their devastating loss at the polls on Tuesday. Since then the NDP have been riding a carousel of excuses that range from blaming negative ads, BC Liberals or the general public for their loss. The blame however, rests on the shoulders of Adrian Dix and the NDP campaign team.
During the election Adrian Dix and the NDP failed on numerous fronts, beginning with the release of their platform, the NDP announced new policies and spending on a range of topics for nearly the first two weeks of the election. This resulted in a convoluted platform that lacked a clear message. The policies in the NDP platform which apart from having new pictures and being accompanied by a new slogan “change for the better” was mostly built around the premise of reintroducing NDP policies from the 1990’s, such as the jobs protection commissioner and the capital tax. Without a clear platform and message, the NDP were not able to contextualize the slogan they repeated ad nauseum.
The abrupt change of principle by Adrian Dix, to make a decision on the Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning before an official proposal had been announced caught not only the general public by surprise but also NDP MLA’s in particular Carole James who was the NDP campaign chair. The change of principle was a last ditch effort to stop the flow of support to the Green Party on Vancouver Island. But the timing of the announcement and Dix’s failure to address questions surrounding the sudden change of principle, reinforced the BC Liberal message of Adrian Dix being a bad economic manager and as someone against the natural resource industry in BC.
The mismanagement of the campaign and the failure to communicate on part of Adrian Dix along with the perplexing failure of the NDP to define their opponent and instead be defined by their opponent was vested in their complacency and disregard for the voters which was brought on by an over reliance on public opinion polls commissioned by the media. The polls gave them an allusion of being so far ahead, there was nothing that could stop Adrian Dix from becoming Premier and they could sit back and ride in to government without having to clearly tell voters what it was they wanted to do as the governing party. The bits of their plans they did release such as their astonishing promise to introduce deficit budgets, smacked of arrogance and a thought within the party that they could say anything, do anything, and still form government on May 14.
Written by a guest contributor to Vancity Buzz.
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