Some folks are beginning to look through the embers to explain why the official opposition is now the third party. Geoffrey Rafe Hall writes:
Many observers, picking through the post-mortem of the NDP campaign, have laid most of the blame on the niqab debate and the eruption of identity politics, on Tom Mulcair’s flat performance in the first leaders’ debate, and on Justin Trudeau’s substantial personal appeal. All of these factors contributed to the result, of course — but not one of them was solely capable of toppling what should have been a well-run, sturdy election machine.
It may not seem obvious now, but the seeds of the NDP’s defeat in October were sown years earlier — before Jack Layton’s death and the breakthrough of 2011. Both were momentous events that had negative and long-lasting repercussions. Ultimately, the gains in the 2011 election fostered a climate of arrogance and complacency within the NDP’s senior ranks and shifted the focus away from building a robust election machine to operating the levers of power. Jack’s tragic death, which triggered a genuine and heartfelt outpouring of grief from Canadians everywhere, virtually guaranteed that the party would not conduct a critical analysis of events.
Layton's triumph was also the party's downfall. Like Stephen Harper, Layton insisted on message discipline:
Career advancement was halted for anyone who failed to adhere rigidly to dogma prescribed in many cases by senior political staff — not the party leader. Greater emphasis was placed on centralized messaging and communications at the expense of organization, technical innovation, voter and volunteer identification and recruitment. In short, the NDP’s organizational strength was allowed to atrophy.
But, ironically, even though the party movers and shakers insisted on message discipline, the message wasn't clear:
From the get-go, the NDP campaign lacked a clear direction and message. Why did they want to win government? Was it to replace Harper? Usher in change? Provide economic stability? The party failed to answer these questions for voters, or to offer them any inspirational arguments for a NDP government.
The party seemed to have forgotten who they were -- and lots of traditional Dippers voted for Trudeau -- a message that Justin should heed.