Sunday, September 23, 2012

Cummins Stays In, Van Dongen Gets Out, BC Cons Collapse?

The bizarre story of the BC Conservatives these days is one worth mentioning, because despite my current disappointment with the BC Liberals and Premier Clark, the self-implosion of the Conservatives is definitely more amusing to me (not to mention a possible game changer out on the west coast).
The past year-and-a-half, which has seeen the BC Cons move up in polling just behind the governing Liberals, has been an interesting one - what with the acclamation of their Dear Leader, former federal MP John Cummins in May 2011, and then the crossing of the floor of John van Dongen to become the first Conservative MLA in, what, 50 years or so?, in March 2012. The utter collapse of the Liberals has definitely helped this fledgling little far-right party.

But then what can be accurately described has a summer from hell ensued for John Cummins and the Conservatives, culminating in the recent news bits of the Conservatives voting (barely) by 71% to keep Cummins as leader (by avoind a leadership review), and then the sudden resignation of van Dongen from the party the same day.

Though I loathe to give him any traffic at all, to get the scope of this, Blogging Tory Dean Skoreyko is a must read on this. Dean was a former BC Con candidate before he was kicked out of the party some time ago for... I don't know, being his usual abrasive self, I assume. But he's still well connected in the group, so here's a sampling of some of his posts I found noteworthy:

BC Conservative Party falling apart? En masse resignations true?
BC Conservative leader Cummins compares himself to Jesus Christ
Email: BC Conservative Board of Directors outing their leader’s ‘Judas’
BC Conservatives only MLA no longer supports leader Cummins

It's something of a mess, and I look forward to Dean's post on vnan Dongen's resignation.

What does it mean? It means these clowns have no idea what they're doing, and they're not even fighting over anything except the scraps that their little party is at the moment. It is one thing for a government to have these kinds of internal squabblings, another thing for a formerly-dominate party to have them as well... but a party that is riding at its highest in a generation or two, and it can't get its act together when an election is just a few months out.

The BC Conservatives fall into the same branch that the Saskatchewan Liberals and the PEI New Democrats seem to: those provincial parties that we know exist but are so craptastic we don't want to really refer to their existence, for fear of tarnishing the broader reputation of our respective parties. Its just a sad, sad sight.

More importantly than schadenfraude, however, is how this will end up affecting the political scene in BC. A rift this public in the third party that was expected to run the gammut on the Liberals can do it no good, and its possible we've already seen some of this reflected in recent polls. While it won't eradicate the problems of the Liberals if the Conservatives collapse, it could go a long way to helping solve them. After all, I doubt most of these soft Conservative voters will choose to run to the NDP and Adrian Dix.


  1. You're probably correct that the soft Conservative voters won't support the NDP, but neither will many of them support the Clarke Liberals. Rather, I suspect they will avoid voting for anyone and let the chips fall where they may. The distaste for the Liberal Party in BC is almost palpable and there is little, if any, chance that they will form the next government.

    In the case of van Dongen, the proximity of his resignation from the Conservative Party, immediately after Cummins was reconfirmed as their leader, must surely raise a question about why van Dongen joined the Conservatives in the first place. Was he aware, perhaps, of the impending revolt against Cummin's leadership? Did he expect that he would be in a strong position to become their next leader if he switched to them? Did he think that in an election or two he, as Conservative leader, would be elected Premier of BC since the Liberals had disappeared as a force in BC politics? If so, the Conservative membership have made it clear he was a non-starter. So where will he go now? I suspect into political oblivion.

    1. Political oblivion suits van Dongen very well. Though I'm not sure he new about the impending leadership issues, as much as he may have inadvertently come just before they started; van Dongen was apparently never the biggest fan of Cummins, and once those two by-elections were lost back earlier this year, the bottom definitely fell out of that relationship, and the one Cummins had with his party.

      If it was the by-election losses that started this mess, how much of the blame should there really to have been directed at Cummins? And if it was only the catalyst for whats happened, how does Cummins really expect to hold on when roughly 30% of his party is against his leadership?