15 April 2009

Dipper to BCNDP: Support STV or get out of the way

Dave Meslin brings several key points together in an article which appears on rabble.ca today.
The unfortunate truth is that the NDP has always supported voting reform on paper, but not when in power or close to power. We’ve had NDP governments in four provinces, and all have failed to pass legislation that would democratize our elections. The optics are bad. What it says is that we as a party are as opportunistic as the others. The risk of perpetuating this image is significant.

It isn't image. It's reality. And it's not just provincial NDP which have failed to put action to their words.

As Meslin's article highlights, the same consideration - for the interests of the party rather than of the voters - are at play with the BC NDP.
By taking a neutral stance on the referendum, the B.C. NDP is giving the Greens exactly what they want, and handing them an electoral breakthrough on a silver platter.

Some progressive leaders have even gone beyond neutrality and are actually opposing electoral reform. This smells of opportunism as the B.C. NDP can win a majority in the province under first-past-the-post.

Sadly, the tactics being used make the situation even worse. Instead of intellectual debate, we are witnessing fear mongering and false rumours being spread about STV in attempts to feed opposition. Misleading data from other countries is being used to fabricate arguments, such as the notion that STV will result in fewer women being elected. Experts and feminist leaders firmly reject the accusation, and it’s embarrassing to see some progressive leaders align themselves with this type of political activity.

If we’re serious about growing as a movement, then it’s time for the Left to take on the issue of electoral reform. Not at the bottom of our agenda, always slipping off the radar, but as a torch bearer leading the way.

Unfortunately, like Ignatieff's Liberals, Harper's Conservatives and, to a lesser extent, Layton's NDP, the BC NDP are following the same pattern of ignoring their own members.

As Meslin notes elsewhere in his article, a vast majority of members of the BC NDP support BC-STV. But do you think the party's leadership listens to them? Of course not.

Note that when referring to the party "leadership" I am not talking just about Carole James. I include those around her, such as insiders Bill Tieleman and David Schreck, the two main forces behind the No campaign, and others with whom I've been in contact. Virtually all their arguments are advanced from a party point of view. Few, if any, appear to address concerns for voters.

Well, electoral systems aren't about empowering parties. They are about empowering voters.

The optics are clear: the leadership of the BC-NDP cares only about the position of the party, not the voters or the members the party is supposed to represent.

H/t to HUD for bringing this article to my attention.

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