Opinion Column

THE DUEL

Target failed policies, not dirt 0

By Laila Yuile, The Duel

Adrian Dix said he would run a clean campaign, but didn't run much of a campaign at all. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

Adrian Dix said he would run a clean campaign, but didn't run much of a campaign at all. (FILE PHOTO/24 HOURS)

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There is an old quote that states, “The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving you are unworthy of winning.”

While civic elections don’t happen until November, mayoral candidates have already begun campaigning in earnest, and have given voters a hard-hitting preview of what to expect in the fall.

Following a series of personal attacks between the Non-Partisan Association and Vision Vancouver campaigns that exemplified the meaning of dirty politics, last week NPA mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe announced a code of conduct intended to stop it all. Banning all personal attacks on opposing candidates, the code prevents any commentary, remarks or ads on anything but policies and government. Signed by all candidates, the mayoral candidate even pledged to resign if anyone breaks the code — a lofty promise reporters are sure to remind him of if needed.

But will a “clean” campaign win him the mayor’s seat? Time will tell, but in opposition to the proven strategy that dirty politics are the only way to win, I think running a clean campaign is a good strategy, provided it’s skillfully done.

In most elections, it’s a race to see who can sling mud first. Dig up some dirt on opposing candidates to knock them out, demonize their character, and misrepresent statements they’ve made. Toss in a little exaggeration and repeat, repeat, repeat. Some even resort to unethical dirty tricks to sabotage an opponent’s campaign. And it does work. We’ve had BC Liberals in power for over 10 years, haven’t we?

Tricky Dix, pictures of weasels, the horrible 1990s are all excellent examples of the above. It’s been claimed many times the BC NDP lost the last election because they ran a clean campaign, but in reality they didn’t run a campaign at all. They failed as they failed in past elections because they couldn’t create a narrative that connected with voters, not because party leader Adrian Dix stood smiling nicely while Christy Clark pushed him over the cliff.

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

Targeting failed policy, government dishonesty, and criticizing government transgressions such as overspending isn’t dirty, it’s truthful. There’s a reason the campaign office is called the “War Room” – elections are a battle for votes and words are weapons. A government’s record is ammunition. Running a clean campaign doesn’t mean laying down and letting your opponent walk all over you, a mistake the NDP made like many others before them. It means firing back with integrity.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com.

 

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