Tuesday, June 17, 2014

THE PEARL HAD IT FIRST


                                    _____________________________________
"I get the sense that all of this may be, as the
song goes, “a lesson to late for the learning”
unless as some rumors suggest Frank Coleman
may quit before being sworn in as Premier,
causing the PC leadership to be called all over
again."
 _______________________________________


I read it in the Pearl first, the rumor that Frank Coleman was going to throw in the towel before being sworn in as Premier. The editor, Dr. Scott Reid mentioned it in the May 26-June 8, 2014 edition.

Here is the full article for your consideration. If you are part of the PC Executive or the leadership planning committee it may not be too late to accept some free, sage advice now that Frank Coleman has produced a mulligan. 

Advice for the PC Party
The Pearl

Leader selection is one of the most important
functions performed by a political party. In doing
this parties filter the prospective leaders which
the full electorate has to choose from in a general
election.

The selection of a new leader becomes even
more important when the leader is being chosen
when the party is in power because the person
selected automatically becomes Premier and
starts making decisions which impact the whole
province.

This is why I feel compelled to give some advice
in a public way to the PC Party in this province
who seem to have gotten the process so
wrong over the past few years.

Sometimes train wrecks happen for unpreventable
reasons. It is an accident and no one
could have foreseen the circumstances which
led to it happening or stopped it. But other times
there are circumstances which could have been
altered, safety precautions which could have
been taken, but were not. The polls and media
coverage certainly indicate things have gone off
the rails with the PC party in this province and it
is worth asking why and how could it have been
prevented.

The local PC Party maybe could have learned
by taking a look west to the process used by
the PC Party in Alberta to select their leaders
since 1971. They have an open primary process
where anyone in the province can show up, pay
a $5 registration fee and vote for the leader. After
the first round they then have another runoff
vote involving just the top two contenders. It
has worked well for them in the sense that they
have been able to remain in power with significant
majorities over an extended period of time,
despite strong challenges from parties on both
the left and right of the political spectrum.
Academics who have studied this stuff (Steward
& Sayers,2012) point out that the process
allows the party to adjust to the challenges they
face and that sometimes means selecting someone
who is not the favorite of the party power
brokers.

Instead of looking at what is happening
around the country and the world, the PC Party
chose to stick with the same old process claiming
that it creates more drama and a more exciting
convention. Well that really didn’t work out
did it.

The fact is that the process used to select a
leader also impacts on the likelihood of candidates
running. People come forward and offer
themselves when they think they have a fair and
open process with a chance of being heard and
possibly convincing people to vote for them. The
spectacle of Bill Barry, a person of substantial
financial means, saying the deck was stacked
against him should send a clear message to the
Party executive as it does to the wider electorate
that this was not a fair and open process.
Leadership selection processes are really
opportunities for parties to get ready for the
next election. They energize supporters and legitimize
the leader’s position. The process also
should prepare and make the winner a better
campaigner and debater. The public should have
a chance to get to know the candidates better
and get a chance to warm-up to them. Leadership
selection processes such as the one used
in Alberta, allows a party that has been in power
for a while to re-invent itself and to choose a new
direction.

I get the sense that all of this may be, as the
song goes, “a lesson to late for the learning”
unless as some rumors suggest Frank Coleman
may quit before being sworn in as Premier,
causing the PC leadership to be called all over
again.

In any event the academic literature related
to when parties move from the closed delegated
convention to a more open and inclusive direct
votes for leaders, indicates that this is more likely
to happen when a party is in opposition. The
eggheads who spend their lives studying this
stuff conclude that “winners seldom innovate”
and “electoral defeat is the mother of change”
for political parties. I suspect the PC Party will
have an opportunity to make this change in the
not too distant future.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Craig wescott had it first