In BC the two main political groupings are the people, as represented by the NDP and what I'll call the Chamber of Commerce Tendency as represented by... well thats the thing. It tends to burrow inside existing parties, hollow them out from the inside and ride them until their exclusive and enthusiastic servicing of the rich and powerful at the expense of everyone else taints it beyond reclamation and then it is abandoned to wither and die as the Tendency moves on to its next host..
When I lived there it was animating the husk of the BC Social Credit Party - most of the kookiness of Social Credit had been shed in favour of cold blooded service of capital but their last Premier Bill Vanderzalm mixed a sleazy televangelist grinning wing-nut vibe with an approach to ethics and finances that also brought televangelists to mind. After years of less flamboyant but still sleazy simmering scandals under Vanderzalm's predecessor Bill Bennett, Vanderzalm's toothy religiosity and nickle and dime sleaziness in his personal dealings with shadowy Hong Kong land developers sunk the Social Credit label completely. As the NDP took over the Chamber of Commerce Tendency withdrew to lick its wounds.
And to slowly, over years inhabit the BC Liberal Party, hollow it out and animate it like a grotesque jerking corpse puppet.
Now that the zombie stink has gotten too much for the BC voter and the Liberals look like they are shambling to a political grave the 'Tendency' turns cold eyes to its next husk, the BC Progressive Conservatives.
The B.C. Conservatives took 2.1 per cent of the vote in the 2009 election. But under the leadership of John Cummins, the party is tied in recent polls with Premier Christy Clark's B.C. Liberals in second place at 23 per cent.
Marshall said there are striking similarities between B.C.'s Clark and Alberta's Redford: Women in their mid-40s who returned to elected office after successful careers outside politics and became leaders of par-ties whose previous male leader had become too unpopular.
Both enjoyed brief bursts of popularity, added Marshall, followed by a decline in the polls as small-conservative voters shifted to an insurgent party from the political right.
Similarly, Redford was a red Tory - "certainly not the blue-est of candidates for the Alberta PC leadership" - while Clark was a federal Liberal, said Marshall.
Simon Fraser University political scientist Royce Koop agreed that Wildrose and the B.C. Conservatives share a common tack. "They are both consistently and openly principled conservative parties."
"There doesn't seem to be any attempt or desire to moderate that. When you are coming in from the right, as the Reform Party did on the federal scene, you sort of behave in a principled right-wing manner."
One difference, added Koop, is that Wildrose is poised to take power. Given the NDP's current strength in B.C., the most the B.C. Conservatives can hope for in next year's election is to replace the B.C. Liberals as the main party for B.C.'s anti-NDP forces.