Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Merger? Why?

If the future of the Liberal Party was to be the party that it was under its last two leaders then maybe it would be time to throw in the towel and pack it in.   The right and part of the centre wing of the Libs could gravitate to Harper.   The left and some of the centre might more or less willingly sign on to the new NDP ship of state.  A number of Libs might just wish a pox on both their houses and withdraw from politics or go Green.

But the rationale I most often hear for merger assumes that one election, the last, foretells the future and that's just silly.   Weak Liberal leadership, strong NDP leadership and wiley and deftly manipulative Conservative leadership all played a big role in the last election outcome.   As far as the Libs were concerned, the vote was a referendum on a leader and leadership that's now safely gone.   Is there a Lib who thinks his or her party gave it their all, gave Canadians their best in that election?   If so, please join the merger line.

Something else that hasn't been resolved is just what the LPC would merge with?   This comes down to the heart and soul of the New Democrats - socialism.   Jack Layton, to his credit, very skilfully smothered the issue of whether the NDP, in opposition and with hopes to form a government, would expunge the party's historic commitment to socialism.    Mr. Layton knew that was a powerfully divisive threat if he let it come to the fore.   But, even if New Democrats are willing to let that sleeping dog lie, Liberals tossing about the idea of merger need to know the answer before they go ahead.  Will they be merging into a party that's avowedly socialist?

If the Liberal Democratic Party is to be openly socialist that is going to weigh heavily on the numbers of Liberals, centre-right Libs who will be interested in signing on.   A number of them will migrate, even if begrudgingly, to the Conservatives.   That will greatly weaken the Libs bargaining position in merger talks.   Look what happened to the Progressive Conservatives when they stepped into Harper's lion's den.

If the Liberal Democrats are not to be socialist but choose the path of centrism instead then there are going to be plenty of NDP faithful who won't want any part of it.   After all, some of them have spent generations denouncing the Liberal Party.   Why would they want their own party to take on that mantle?  What about everything they've so proudly stood for all these generations?

As a centre-left Liberal, I should be the least troubled by the idea of merger but it still concerns me deeply.  What's the rush?   If there is to be a merger, it's going to take time and effort and a lot of compromise if we're to get it right.   We can't risk getting it wrong.   That goes for both sides.  We have to measure our compatibility, our commonality of interests and in that identify our differences and weigh each side's ability to overcome them.  Who gives?  What?  How much?

We still need to consult the public and the best way to discern their opinion is at the polls.  We need another election, probably two, before we can safely gauge public support for a merged party.  The whole idea could backfire with the electorate.

I have always associated the New Democratic Party as a party of lofty ideals and fiercely held principles.  I have always valued the immeasurable role the NDP has played as the conscience of Parliament.   But if the NDP want to pursue the path to Sussex Drive, they'll have to embrace pragmatism and compromise.   Their future progressivism will have to be sharply muted from what it was in the past.

If the NDP believes it can campaign its way into government on a socialist platform then it should reject the Liberals.  They'll only drag you down.   If, however, the NDP believes it should become a latter day centre-left liberal movement, then it should come to that decision openly and democratically.  Its lifelong, dedicated members deserve nothing less.

No, merger initiatives at this point smack of desperation and are riddled with potential pitfalls.  The NDP needs to consolidate its organization in the wake of Mr. Layton's horribly untimely death.  The Libs need to rehabilitate their own tattered organization.   Neither side is currently ready for merger.


ck said...

We can't afford another Harper majority. We can't even afford this one. Time is a luxury we don't have.

As for those blue grit voters going off to the Harpercons, that ship sailed May 2 in fear of the Orange machine. Remember liberalsforharper.ca?

And it sure beats having those two parties sniping at each other which has proven to be counterproductive to say the very least. It's time they adapted that old my enemy's enemy is my friend.

Plus, the conbot trolls are absolutely livid at the idea. I mean, time to bring out the fainting couches and smelling salts time, which leads me to believe that this is probably the right thing. Rule of thumb, if a Harpercon cheerleader hates it, odds are, it's probably a stroke of genious.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hi CK. The facts aren't really on your side. Time we definitely have, a full majority term worth of time. That gives Harper another four years of unilateral rule so there's plenty of time for the left to wait and see.

The "my enemy's enemy is my friend" adage is understandable and appropriate to this situation. However we should be friends, not mates, at least not yet. You can't simply assume the level of candour and trust required for a merger. The PCs thought they could and look how that turned out.

Yes, by all means, we should explore areas and policies on which we can collaborate but that doesn't mean merger.

Anonymous said...

Iggy was not the right thing yet he had many liberal cheerleaders.

The NDP certainly do not represent this Liberal.

I would wait to see who the next leader of the NDP will be. If it's Mulcair, I may reconsider. Yes, he temperamental but he's also seasoned in politics.

In the last election, there was little need for all the snipping that the NDP did. They were opportunists and I hold them responsible for the Harper majority.

Now, the Liberals do have their internal problems. Once they have gotten past that and moved on, not going back to the likes of the buffoons they present maybe they will have a chance.

The Mound of Sound said...

I agree with you, Anon. The NDP sniping in the last election was unwarranted. It was, however, calculated by Jack Layton as the way to take second spot for the NDP and no one can convince me JL didn't comprehend and accept that it would be at the cost of a Harper majority. Yes they were opportunists, as they were against Martin and Dion before Iggy. And, yes, that should give Liberals genuine pause to reflect. I wouldn't begin to know how to trust the NDP today. Trust, like respect, is something earned. I don't happen to respect people and institutions I don't trust.

Anonymous said...

Aren't all parties opportunists when it comes election time?

LeDaro said...

Mound, right on. Those are exactly my sentiments on merger. Wait at least another general election. With Mr. Layton’s untimely death and already fickle Quebec support for NDP that support may disappear come next general elections and maybe a totally different outcome. With a new and strong Liberal leader they could even form the next government because Harper will continue to show his true colours during these four years. Merger is not appropriate at this time.

Anonymous said...

"The PCs thought they could and look how that turned out."

No, the PCs voted for a leader that would block any merger. Peter MacKay broke his solemn word and received a shiny ministerial position. Stephen Harper's Alliance orchastrated a scheme where Alliance members would buy a membership in the PCs in order to vote for merger.

The 2cards scheme was especially sneaky. They could guarantee the votes because the Alliance had more members easily. They highly likely could guarantee the leader's support through a treacherous backroom deal of some sort. So they could guarantee the merger, and then all the "wasted" PC membership fees magically turned into donations in the Alliance's coffers. One of the recent CPC conventions moved to change their regulations so that the same scheme couldn't be pulled on them.

Anonymous said...

Mearming is just not going to do it for the Liberals. Being positive about what needs to be done regarding the party is what needs to take place now. Spewing out the same old garbage as the above just will not get it. For example implimenting good sound systems that work. For example, fixing the health care system that is and has been so very stupidly operated by both the Liberals and PCs. And, don't belame retirees and upcoming retirees for the health care mess. Japan has more retirees than we do and their health care system operates just fine.