Socreds win again. Four more foreflushing years focsussed on the health of business not people, crony capitalists rather than public service, of lies and scandals, punishing public schools and teachers. Worst of all it ‘s all buoyed by a complicit corporate media.
But after this tragic loss, let’s not waste our post mortem time tut tutting about the leader or the campaign strategy. Neither John Horgan nor the NDP strategy lost this election.
“Horgan should have done this… the campaign should have done that.”
No. This election , as in most provincial elections, the NDP was doomed from the start by B.C.’s corporate media (especially Postmedia) strategy.
They started slowly with stories of an early big NDP lead due to voter anger with myriad Socred scandals. They described a few of the dozens of scandals and set in the minds of BC voters that this time, it looked like the NDP’s election to lose.
By doing this early groundwork, the media did two things:
First they set high expectations for an NDP win. Over the subsequent weeks, it allowed them to cherry pick polls and chronicle a Socred “comeback”, a comeback they could attribute to prudent Socred fiscal mangement. It also gave them lots of time to change the other side of the narrative by discussing the tax and spend proclivities of the NDP in the horrific 90s, a false narrative that is no longer even questioned it’s been sold for so long. Coupled with coverage of a surprising “surge” of Green Support on the Island, where Socreds can only win seats with a split vote, the media campaign to re-elect the Socreds was well on it’s way.
Second, and more important, giving the NDP a big early lead in the “polls” got voter anger out there early so it was easier to diffuse later on, and most importantly, it could fizzle out early with the indifferent voter, who really doesn’t “follow politics much.”
Having chronicled the “comeback” with a series of cherry picked polls , the 2017 election media campaign culminated with an almost surgical final week of manipulation of the undecided voter.
The Globe and Mail started it off, with a glowing endorsement of Socred fiscal mangement – “5 balanced budgets!”. They threw in an embarrassingly fawning column by Gary Mason who sung Christy Clark’s praises.
The Sun was on board all along, with headlines like “Horgan, a leader looking for a backbone”. They finished it up Saturday with an outright Socred endorsement without mentioning scandals, fudge it budgets, poverty levels, or BC Hydro bankruptcy.
CKNW, always a reliable Socred player, interviewed Keith Baldrey in a nauseating segment on Saturday , Mr Baldrey feigning political objectivity. Giving the impression that he had sifted through all the information which yielded the inescapable conclusion that Socreds were the prudent vote.
The Province did one better on Sunday, placing, just below the paper’s gleeful Socred endorsement , a letter to the editor that they headlined “NDP Will Bankrupt Us ”.
It’s quite simple. About 40% of British Columbian voters favour the NDP. About 35% favour the Socreds, 12 -20% are “undecided” or indifferent.
It is this group of voters who decide every BC election.
If they walk into the voting booth having most recently heard anger and disgust with Socred scandal and mismanagement , the NDP wins.
But if, like this election, the last thing they heard was the orchestrated testimonials of the media and the amazing comeback of a gifted campaigner, the NDP gets beat.
The latter is usually the scenario, and it was the scenario this time.
A carefully coordinated comeback, a push of the Green party, a last minute characterization of the stuck NDP bus as analogous to the failed NDP campaign and it’s all over.
But this time,let’s please not blame the candidate. Let’s instead blame the real villain(s) – a coordinated, corporate media campaign which never laid a glove on the most odious government B.C. has ever had.