Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Dipper Renewal


At the end of the last election campaign, the Liberals knew that the wind was at their backs. The Conservatives knew that the game was over. But Tom Mulcair's  New Democrats thought that they would do well -- particularly in Quebec. Gerry Caplan writes:

The leader waxed excitedly about the huge turnout for his meetings in Quebec, surely presaging the NDP’s second successive sweep of the province. A senior adviser assured anguished New Democrats that 50 Quebec seats were in the bag. Since virtually every public poll agreed the NDP was by then chopped liver, partisans listened but more plausibly believed the campaign was now totally delusional.

Last October, instead of 50 seats as the campaign leaders believed, the NDP won 16. It seems those running the campaign had pretty well lost touch with reality. Campaign bubbles can do that.

Last week a new poll suggested that the Liberals were still flying high. They had 49 per cent approval, the Conservatives were holding at 32 per cent. The NDP had plummeted from the 19 per cent it received in the election to a derisory 10 per cent. Only twice before in its 54-year history, in the elections of 1993 and 2000, has the NDP ever sunk this low.

Caplan believes that Mulcair's leadership won't be challenged at the party's upcoming convention. But he also believes that Mulcair would do well to consider radically different policies from those he was selling last fall: 

I continue to be obsessed with how little new thinking is being done to help us confront the vast challenges we face. Everyone knows what they are. No one seems to have creative solutions or policies for them. Bernie Sanders’s resurrection of democratic socialism in the United States offers, I’m afraid, little more than the welfare state. In much of Europe, the refugee/immigration crisis has given rise to semi-fascism that has intimidated most social-democratic parties.

Has the great history of socialism no insights to offer us at a critical time like this? Is Tom Mulcair thinking about such issues? Does he have a plan to restore the party’s confidence in him? We will know soon enough. That means April in Edmonton.

April in Edmonton could get very interesting -- if the party is genuinely interested in renewal.


Lorne said...

It should be a very interesting convention indeed, Owen. You may recall after the last election here in Ontario, provincial NDPer Andrea Horwath belatedly seemed to see the error of her ways, and was able to hold on to her leadership. I suspect the same mea culpa from Mulcair will yield the same result for him. However, one still has to ask a very legitimate question about both leaders: Does the fact that they were so fluidly able to tack to the right when power seemed to beckon suggest a fundamental lack of principle and character? If the answer is yes, can they truly reflect their party anymore?

Dana said...

At this point I think 'delusional' is the only word that describes the NDP. Or perhaps 'suicidal'.

It's really a shame. The Harperians, for that moniker continues to apply as long as the dark lord continues to claim his empty chair, will do whatever they can to confront the government of the boy king on behalf of their paymasters.

The NDP will do whatever they can, which is very little, to confront the boy king and his acolytes, on behalf of...who? What?

As near as I can determine the principles that once defined and motivated the NDP have been rendered non-operational and I'm unable to comprehend what has taken their place. If indeed anything has. There seems to be a fog of confusion around the party that allows no light to penetrate in any direction.

We may be witnessing the early phases of the self-annihilation of the party.

Toby said...

The lack of vision from all our parties is stunning. Only Elizabeth May has a real grasp and the powers that be won't let her anywhere near the reins.

Owen Gray said...

Under Mulcair, the party sold its soul, Dana. And, unless it's prepared to buy it back, self annihilation is a distinct possibility.

Owen Gray said...

Horwath kept her job, Lorne. However, I'm not sure the party has benefited from her survival.

Owen Gray said...

I agree with your assessment of May, Toby. Unfortunately, she is her party.

The Mound of Sound said...

Fortunately I'm no New Dem but I think Mulcair has outlived his utility to the NDP. He's no true believer. He could live in a thoroughly Blairified NDP but they tried that and it failed. There are capable New Democrats who would be far better at leading their party into the future but, unfortunately, two of the best, Megan Leslie and Paul Dewar, were defeated in the last election. I'm sure the Liberals wouldn't contest a by-election needed to get either of them into the House of Commons.

Canada badly needs a healthy, recalibrated NDP. I just don't see Mulcair being able to give them the credibility needed to withstand that rehabilitation.

Owen Gray said...

And, at the moment, nobody appears willing to challenge Mulcair's leadership, Mound.

Pamela Mac Neil said...

I wonder Owen, why no one is challenging Mulcairs leadership. They will be in the wilderness for a long time if they keep Mulcair as leader.

Owen Gray said...

That's an interesting question, Pam. Usually, there's more than enough political ambition ambition to go around.