They say, in the USA, that people don’t really start to think about politics and so on until after Labour Day. I suppose it’s much the same here, although, back in the dog days of summer, John Ibbitson, writing in the Globe and Mail about a month ago, did opine about the problems and future of the New Democratic Party. The Dippers, he suggested, quoting NDP stalwart Peter Stoffer, are in the political doldrums.
“The party of Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair is,” he says in the linked article, “in a parlous state. In the second quarter of this year, the party raised $1-million, less than a quarter of what it raised in the second quarter of 2015. Its donor base is only a third of what it was a year ago … [and] … A leadership race is allegedly under way, but two of the leading possible contenders, B.C. MP Nathan Cullen and former Halifax MP Megan Leslie, have ruled themselves out of contention, and Ontario MPP Cheri DiNovo, who had announced her intention to run for the leadership, has withdrawn for health reasons. With polls showing the party languishing below 15 per cent, the New Democrats are at a particularly low ebb.“
In a much more recent article in the National Post, Michael Den Tandt says that “When the New Democratic Party disavowed [Thomas] Mulcair at its convention in Edmonton, giving him just 48 percent support in a mandatory leadership review, they robbed him of what power he’d possessed as the leader of a 44-seat caucus in the House of Commons. They stripped him of his authority and dignity. They insulted him – the man who’d worked tirelessly to bring them to the threshold of power …”
And Rex Murphy, also in the National Post, wonders, “Where, oh where, has the NDP gone?“
All of John Ibbiston, Michael Den Tandt and Rex Murphy comment on the infamous Leap Manfesto but both Ibbitson and Den Tandt note that neither Avi Lewis, scion of the nearly NDP royalty Lewis clan …
… nor his more famous wife Naomi Klein seem interested in the job, even though I suggested, just a few weeks ago, that Ms Klein could be an attractive, credible leader of a left wing NDP and take votes away from Prime Minister Trudeau.
And that’s too bad.
We, Conservatives, must, in my opinion, wish the NDP well … well, more precisely we should wish the left wing of the NDP well.
… and how it can and should work for us if we can occupy enough (not all) of the political centre. The problem is that Jack Layton and Thomas Mulcair both moved the NDP sharply to the right, away from the Naomi Klein world view and much, much closer to something that most Canadian found acceptable. Then, in 2015, Justin Trudeau also campaigned from the left leaning centre. The centre, in other words, got too crowded, so even if Canadians hadn’t grown tired of the CPC and wanted change, we would have been in trouble.
(Prime Minister Trudeau turned standard Liberal practice ~ campaign on the left, promising Canadians everything and then govern from the moderate centre ~ on its head and he campaigned from the moderate centre and is now governing from the left of centre. In fact I would argue that Prime Minister is governing from well to the left of where a Thomas Mulcair led NDP government would be.)
Our Conservative goal, assuming, as I do, that Prime Minister Trudeau cannot manage to impose any new form of voting on Canadians in this mandate, must be to encourage the NDP to pick up the pieces and replace M Mulcair with a strong, attractive, really left wing leader. We must wish that the NDP will move back to its accustomed place on the political spectrum and convince a few million voters to either join them or stay home. We should want the NDP to get 15% to 25% of the popular vote and 10% to 15% of the seats in the House of Commons. That will rob the Liberals of a good slice of the left wing vote they earned in 2015 and make the fight for the centre, between the Conservative and the Liberals, that much closer. We want the Liberals to always be fighting a “two front war:” against against the NDP on the left, and against us, on the right:
To get there we, Conservatives, need a popular, attractive, well led New Democratic Party.
The secret to getting elected on a regular basis is to provide a platform that appeals to our reliable base of the centre right and right of centre voters and captures a bit of the right wing, too and, because that only gets us to, say, about 20+% we need to capture most of the centre~ leaning right and a good chunk of the centre~leaning left, too … in other words we must offer policies and programmes that most Canadians find acceptable.
Those who want to push policies and projects that appeal to only 6% of Canadians must look at that bell curve again and understand that some of those polices and projects alienate many, even most of the 38+% of voters who are, firmly, in the middle and without whose votes we are doomed to perpetual opposition status.