Opinion Column

Shadow warriors ready for NDP leadership war 0

Bill Tieleman

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

BC NDP's Adrian Dix takes the podium at NDP headquarters to admit defeat in the 2013 provincial election May 14. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

BC NDP's Adrian Dix takes the podium at NDP headquarters to admit defeat in the 2013 provincial election May 14. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

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All war is deception. — Chinese military strategist/philosopher Sun Tzu

Don’t be deceived by public indications, because a fierce war is already being fought for the BC New Democratic Party leadership.

But this is a battle being fought by shadow warriors — until they choose the right time to step into the light.

To date, the only leadership announcements have been to say no thanks: MLAs John Horgan, Judy Darcy, George Heyman; Members of Parliament Nathan Cullen, Peter Julian, Fin Donnelly, Jinny Sims and Kennedy Stewart; and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and Councilor Geoff Meggs have all declined the chance to succeed outgoing Leader Adrian Dix.

But this list is deceiving as serious efforts are underway by party and labour activists to convince Horgan — the fiery veteran who placed third in the 2011 leadership vote — to reconsider and run again.

Meanwhile, shadow campaign teams are soliciting support from MLAs, unions and key individuals for the votes and money needed to win the one-member, one-vote contest in September.

Veteran MLA Mike Farnworth, a cabinet minister under past BC NDP premiers Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark, is seen as the front runner after coming second to Dix last time.

Several of Farnworth's past team are actively seeking support again and believe he could have won the failed 2013 campaign.

But others — including Horgan himself when he announced he would not run last October — feel the BC NDP needs new leadership blood.

Many are coalescing around new MLA David Eby, who defeated Premier Christy Clark in her own Vancouver-Point Grey riding and previously built a significant reputation as BC Civil Liberties Association executive director.

Regardless of who runs, there are strong reasons for not yet announcing for leader.

The $25,000 entry fee and a party-spending limit of $350,000 shows fundraising is critical.

And the successful candidate needs high profile endorsements; member votes; be able to herd cats in the BC NDP caucus; deal with a prickly press gallery; navigate tricky party energy politics; plus have a very thick skin.

Daunting prospects but high risks come with high rewards: by reversing results in just nine BC Liberal seats, the next NDP leader becomes premier.

And that's enough incentive for warriors to step out of the shadows and into a party battle.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist who endorsed Eby’s 2013 election.

Read more at billtieleman.blogspot.com Email: weststar@telus.net Twitter: @BillTieleman 

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