EDITORIAL: NDP panel will find that fear works

Analysis of election strategy, party philosophy will lead to unpalatable truth

Much analysis and speculation about different leaders has been done in the months since the B.C. Liberals scored a shocking, come-from-behind win over the NDP in the last provincial election.

Guided by research being undertaken this summer by a diverse, five-person panel, the New Democratic Party plans to tackle the issue of just how they lost an election they were destined to win.

Party president Moe Sihota, no stranger to the election process and campaigning, admitted the NDP must do some serious soul-searching to solve the riddle of how to get the better of the B.C. Liberals.

Many factors contributed to the loss of the NDP’s grip on the hearts and minds of the province’s voters.

There was leader Adrian Dix’s mid-campaign flip-flop on oil pipelines and the party’s lack of laserlike focus on a small number of issues while the Liberals focused on one: the economy. Even the lack of natural charisma of Dix himself helped create the perfect political storm.

The NDP can do all the analysis it wants to try and find answers. But the unpalatable fact that negative advertising works, especially when aimed at a relatively large number of undecided voters, is a reality the party must face for the next election.

Sihota acknowledged that both his party and the B.C. Liberals were surprised at the effectiveness of the governing party’s approach; the way it stirred up fear on the part of B.C. voters at the prospect of leaving the economy in the hands of the NDP.

Putting it into business terms, the voting public in too many areas of the province –the Capital Region excluded – weren’t sold on the NDP brand. It may go against party philosophy, but perhaps the NDP needs to consult an image specialist before the next election.

One need only to look south of the border, to the last presidential election, to realize how well creating fear can work.