Sunday, August 21, 2016

Not Good Days

Jack Layton was a perpetual optimist. But Chantal Hebert believes he'd find it hard to be optimistic about his party's current state of affairs. Perhaps that's because the party under Layton made the Harper government possible:

At the last national convention Layton presided over, less than two months after the party’s historic breakthrough in Quebec, he was rightly celebrated for his election performance. But it was not all rainbows and roses. Among NDP members, elation over the party’s accession to the rank of official Opposition was often tempered by dismay at the advent of a Harper majority.

Just as the Conservatives are having a hard time living down the stain of the Harper years, the Dippers have to contend with a public which holds the NDP responsible -- at least partially -- for Harper's ascension.

But there is a bigger problem. Unlike the Liberals, the next generation in the party is in no mood to take the reins:

The reluctance of the next generation of New Democrats to step up to the leadership plate would trouble him. He would not be particularly thrilled by speculation that Green Party Leader Elizabeth May could or should jump ship to come lead the NDP. She always seemed to click more with her Liberal counterparts (and vice-versa).

And the enthusiasm Layton generated in Quebec isn't there any more:

I live in Laurier-Ste-Marie, a riding the NDP twice won against no less than then-Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe. This week something that looked like an in-store raffle ticket was slipped into my mail slot. It was MP Hélène Laverdière’s latest correspondence.

It would be an exaggeration to call it a householder for it gave no sense of the NDP’s plans for the next sitting of Parliament. Instead it was a straw poll designed to produce a list of priorities for the party to tackle. One can only wonder what Layton would make of the NDP turning itself into a blank slate.

These are not good days for the New Democrats. 



Steve said...

Its the scorpion and the frog. Yeah cant be mad at Jack for trying to win. In the end he did us a favour by saving the Liberals from Iggy. Much as I see Trump hopefully saving the USA from Cruz or worse.

Owen Gray said...

I can only repeat, Steve, that I think your faith in Trump is misplaced.

Lorne said...

The Ontario NDP suffers from the same aimlessness, Owen. I could not vote for Andrea Horwath in the last Ontario election because she had no good reason to trigger the election except a bald lust for power. Had she continued to wield influence through the balance of power that her party held, she would not have enabled Wynne to go on to the majority government that allowed the premier to betray the people of Ontario through the privatization of Hydro One.

Horwath has much to answer for, as does any leader who forsakes party principles for a chance at the top job.

The Mound of Sound said...

The Dippers' trek into the electoral desert is well deserved, Owen. Not only did they give Harper the essential leg up to first accede to power but then to majority, they also abandoned the Left no matter how hard they deny it. It's one thing when the Tories or the Liberals turn on labour but it's inexcusable when the NDP turns its back.

Owen Gray said...

The brass ring can be too much to resist, Lorne. Power is insidious. The closer leaders get to it, the more likely they are to forget what they supposedly stand for.

Owen Gray said...

Labour knows that the Dippers have sold them out, Mound. They will never be able to take its support for granted again.

Anonymous said...

How pathetic to blame Harper on Layton. The reason VOTERS abandoned the Neo-Liberal party is because the Neo-Liberal party abandoned voters. In 1993, voters resoundingly rejected Mulroney's neoliberal reforms only to find the Liberal party was lying to them on the campaign trail and had morphed into the Brian Mulroney party.

If Canada was a democracy, Harper would not have governed long, if at all.

Funny how Liberals feel entitled to center-left votes and the unconditional support of other center-left parties, without ever having to represent it!

All of this is still going on. Blowhards like the Mound complain daily about the Trudeau Liberals betraying their promises. No doubt, a decade from now, blind Liberal partisans will blame Mulcair for Trudeau's fake sell-out liberalism.

If you really want to know who's to blame, look in a mirror. Why should the Liberal party represent voters instead of the establishment when their partisans only care about winning elections?

Scotty on Denman said...

The NDP has skewered itself before. This time, it's not so much for its alleged lacklustre performance in the last federal contest that the party appears to be foundering (once again), nor entirely for taking an assumed failure out on Tom Mulcair---nor even for the bold Leap Manifesto idea; in my opinion, it's more to do with assiduously looking like a bunch of crybabies over electoral reform.

By throwing in with FairVote's recipe for pro-rep implementation, the NDP has cut itself down to the Green's level---the level of a rank fringe-party that has no future without pro-rep. There's no real reason for the NDP do act this way---and some of their antics have been downright embarrassing---because, as the third party, a position it should know and be proud of in terms of punching higher than its weight, it has the unique advantage of always being on the two bigger parties' minds: neither can afford to ignore the NDP, even when it doesn't hold the balance of power.

Layton's mythological feat needs to be qualified: it wouldn't have happened without the vacuum left by the Liberals (and the PCs and Bloc to a lesser degree), nor without the famous sophistication of the Quebec electorate which makes politicians dance to its own tune, not the other way around. Layton was astute in availing the vacuum that existed. Quebec voters would, I suspect, claim it was they instead who took advantage of Layton.

The NDP would have been remiss not to have pursued the next logical step and shoot for the crown, as overly-optimistic as that was considering most of the Quebec seats it'd won under its late leader were really just on loan. Still, the fact that it retained sixteen where it once had just one is a remarkable accomplishment that the party should have celebrated instead of taking it out on Mulcair; those 16 seats signify a rite of passage: from now on the NDP will be a viable option for the expert puppeteers, Quebec voters, to play with as they make their politician dance.

Elizabeth running for the NDP leadership might be just what the witchdoctor ordered---the NDP couldn't do much worse than it's doing now with all its whining about pro-rep. At least she won the riding the NDP blew---which isn't near as lame.

The NDP hasn't been able to count on organized-labour's support for over two decades now. I myself watched as Alberta Report (and its eventual sister-publication BC Report) started filling the toilet stalls in logging camps up and down the BC coast and as once-solid, NDP-voting loggers abandoned the party over the gun-registry and native rights. That trend became permanent as high-density employers (mills) vanished, the logging industry became disintegrated (detached from mills) and populated with non-union contractors. Nevertheless, the 'worker's party' did get to Official Opposition and changed Quebec politics forever all with a significantly reduced contribution from union-members.

Owen Gray said...

As someone who grew up in Quebec, I have to agree with your assessment of Quebec voters, Scotty. I suspect they would claim that they took advantage of Layton.

Owen Gray said...

That's an old complaint about the Liberals -- which bears some truth, Anon. I'll let the Mound speak for himself.