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Tick-tock: let James run out the clock

Make no mistake about it: Carole James will be gone as NDP leader well before the next provincial election. But remember: in politics, like comedy, timing is everything. And the next BC election isn’t scheduled until Tuesday, May 14, 2013.  Yes, 2013. 

So for the NDP there’s no rush: in fact, it would be politically dumb to replace James now.  Why take the spotlight off the Liberals right now?  Why waste all the attention, the radio, television and newspaper coverage,  the excitement of electing a  new leader, and the subsequent focus on his or her early pronouncements and speeches so far ahead of the election?  And why expose the new leader to a longer than necessary sustained period of Opposition and media exposure,  investigation, criticism and blemish-revealing doubts and possible blunders?

James’ future is unfolding as it should: with one of those walks in the snow or sand moments to come when she and NDP strategists are good and ready: next fall, or even better, the Spring of  2012. 

In the meantime, the NDP would do best to let the Liberals occupy the spotlight, tearing themselves open, shedding blood and accusations, exchanging blows and tears and fighting off recall campaigns as they also struggle to get rid of their current leader, Gordon Campbell.  

The NDP should sit back and watch as Liberal leadership candidates then try to outdo one another in distancing themselves from their curent leader. And just enjoy all the thrusts and cuts Liberals will inflict on one another in their leadership fight.

And then, AFTER the Liberals have their new standard-bearer, the NDP would be ready to step in and steal the spotlight with their own leadership moves … with an added bonus: knowing exactly who their primary foe will be and be able to choose a leader best able to face and defeat their new formidable foe.

That would seem to me to be the sensible, practical way for the NDP--and James--to go.

That is, unless ambitous power-seekers within the NDP ranks, scuttle that battle plan by organizing a precipitous revolt with the party right now. The real winner of that, at this time, would be the Liberal party, turning the spotlight away from their agony and redirecting it on the NDP’s. 

No benefit to that!

James will go, but to push her out now, in a public  ugly internal bloodletting … will serve the Liberals,  in the long run up to 2013,  more than the NDP.

This column originally appeared in Mr. Oberfeld's blog, Keeping it Real. Reprinted with his kind permission.