More to NDP loss than keeping to the high road

Taking the high road admirable but not if leadership doesn't inspire trust.

If anything, Adrian Dix is consistent in keeping to the high road.

Last week, as B.C. Premier Christy Clark was shaking hands and posing for pictures at this year’s Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention, the man who had hoped to be there in her place (as premier) but was denied last provincial election by a come-from-behind victory for the BC Liberals, tendered his resignation as leader of the BC NDP.

Dix’s announcement that he would be stepping down was undoubtedly a sigh-of-relief moment for NDP members and supporters who blame the election outcome on his leadership. Dix himself has accepted responsibility. And now a 40-page document on how and why the NDP went from leading by a huge margin in the polls, to securing only 33 seats in the legislature, also points a finger at him and his campaign strategy.

Written by NDP campaign director Brian Topp, the document suggests a more aggressive, “bloody-minded” campaign is needed to win, and that the party failed to emulate the Liberals in focusing attacks on individuals as opposed to criticizing policy.

While Dix might not have been consistent in his position on oil tankers, he continues to avoid the politics of personal attacks and, in his resignation speech, encouraged the party to do the same.

“In the face of cynicism, it is our duty to nourish the need to aspire, to hope and to offer hope,” said Dix. “Not by imitating our opponents at their worst or our critics at their most cynical but by speaking to the best in people. And of course to never, ever give up.”

From the HST to the ethnic vote scandal, the Liberals and their leader provided plenty of opportunity for Dix to draw blood. But the NDP and Dix have their own history of poor decisions that continue to hold strong in voters’ minds. And it could be argued the party lost not because of the positive message, but due to public mistrust in the sincerity of the messenger.