Wednesday, November 27, 2013

New Democrats, Take the Hint, We Need You to Go Home.

Hard as it's been to watch the Liberals morph into Conservative-Lite, it was vastly harder to witness the NDP slip its moorings on the left and migrate to the centre to become Latter Day Liberals.

Under Layton and Mulcair, the NDP abandoned the flank in a shameless bid for power  and Canada is much the worse for it.   Just when we needed the balancing force of the Left more than at any time in the past half century it stands deserted.

If Canadians are to weather the challenges of the 21st century, the overwhelming majority of Canadians and not merely the top 5 per cent, we absolutely must have a strong Left presence in our politics.  Without that presence we will have a devilish time dealing with forces that will sap our social cohesion - inequality, climate change, globalization, the assault on organized labour and collective bargaining, corporatism, our dysfunctional electoral system and other grave threats to our democracy.

Canada doesn't need another liberal party.  The voters said as much just days ago in four by-elections.

Canada needs a party of the Left.   Marginally a tad left of the other guys doesn't cut it when they've all headed off to the Right.   Canada needs a party willing to unapologetically stand for lofty principles to both inspire and guide the public and to keep the other parties at least a little more honest.

If the New Democrats are really done with the Left, then they should pack up and clear out and make way for a new party of principle, a new "conscience of Parliament."  That's what Canada is lacking and what the country needs now more than ever.


Anonymous said...

The NDP suffer from the same affliction than the Lib and Cons. Namely extreme partisanship and a lack of self-awareness...

Arguing with someone from the NDP is eerily similar to arguing with a Harpercon. For that reason alone, they should be mocked.

131220 said...

If you mock the ndp voters, those who remember which 2 parties have plundered Canada's social services, they will continue to vote ndp, and the liberals will perhaps see official opposition. The neo-cons, who haven't mocked the right fight in their camp, but instead gave them assurances that their issues would be addressed, will again form a majority.

The Mound of Sound said...

I don't see much purpose in mocking anyone. That said, I do also encounter an unquestioning loyalty of some devout NDP supporters who used to be, but are no longer, all about high, moral principle.

What can you say about voters who stand mute at the philosophical castration of their own parties? That includes old school progressive conservatives, the left wing of the Liberal Party and, latterly, most of the New Democrats. They're all deeply disappointing.

131220 said...

I'm giving up, actually. I'm putting my efforts behind leadnow and local aboriginal groups and organizations that will lobby for change OUTSIDE any party, because it becomes clearer that NO party is interested in being a lobbyist for citizens.

Scotian said...


It is after all a point I have made for over a decade now about the way our political landscape was changing. A little over a decade ago I had at least three possible choices for my vote depending on the issues of the day and the leadership of the day. Now, I am forced to one choice because of all of them they have changed the least from what I grew up with (and that is not to say they didn't change at all, as you noted they have) and that is the Libs. The PCPC no longer exists and the CPC is not something I can support in its current form, and the NDP have proven that they are no more principle driven than any other party these days yet they still act with the holier than thou attitude that they are, which really offends me. I find anyone that puts on the holier than thou attitude that does not actually truly practice what they preach to be some of the worst and most untrustworthy types of hypocrites humanity has to offer, be it religious, social or political in form/nature. We used to have a real depth of political range in this nation as recently as a quarter century ago, now, these days the spectrum range has shrunken down by a massive degree/amount.

I've made the point about how the only way the NDP shift to the middle could succeed would require the obliteration of the Libs as a viable party, and that I thought the odds of that happening were extremely slim indeed. Now, maybe, just maybe, if Layton had not died and stayed healthy for another decade they might have managed that (and I am far from convinced of that even so), but it clear that the Libs are still here as a real and viable national alternative, and this time they have the leader with charisma and warmth, while the NDP are currently led by someone who comes off more than a little like the left/flip side of the Harper coin, not exactly the vision of hope.

I was furious with Layton and company back in 2005 for abandoning the role they had spent decades assuring me and all Canadians that they were there for, to protect us from the right wing crazies. Time and again I made this argument only to be sneered at. Well I think MoS that the NDP and its membership for the most part have made their choice, so it is time for a new party of the left to form to replace them, because the NDP of Layton and Mulcair are not the NDP of old, and I believe they have driven out those within it that could have restored some of that "true faith" progressiveness. Else why such silence from former party stalwarts who were solid NDP core principle devotees?

No, the NDP has sold its soul for the worst of both worlds, a point I warned them about for years as I watched them first enable the rise of Harper to PM and then as their party became something that embraced all those Liberal traits they used to denounce as unacceptable in their lust for seats and power. It was bad enough under Layton, but with Mulcair at the helm it has truly become unstoppable I believe, at least for this generation, and I am not sure the nation has enough time left to left the next generation correct the NDP mistakes of this one.

The Mound of Sound said...

Yes but how, Scotian, is a new party of the Left to rise out of the NDP vacuum? How many years did it take Preston to launch Reform and what resources did he have at his disposal to do the job?

A new Left party would face constant, bitter attacks from the NDP which would not tolerate threats to what it perceives as its base even though it has parted company with them politically.

Scotian said...

I agree MoS, which is why I think the NDP bought the worst of both worlds with this decision, and when I say that I mean the supporters as much as the leadership. I really do think the NDP have so sold out their former position that they cannot credibly return there, and yet cannot credibly become the replacement for the Libs that they were trying for. Over time I think we are going to see the same split happen there as we did with the PCPC after Mulroney and a real dogfight go on for some year until either one side conquers the other or both sides drive themselves into political oblivion.

IOW MoS I think it may be too late for that third party progressive voice for this generation. I think the NDP cannot be it anymore outside of their rabid fans (who are as blind about their issues as CPC ones are about Harper and their party, and for much the same reasons, one of which being this irrational hatred of Libs), who are not growing from all appearances. I agree with you that any party trying to actually become the new voice of the left/progressive movement will be seriously handicapped by funding issues and constant attacks by the NDP to the threat such a party represents to their very existence. I do think the one way the NDP can regain its credibility is for such a new party/movement to gain strength and then merge with the NDP and pulling it back towards that direction, but that will be neither easy nor soon, which is again why I think essentially the progressive left in this nation was betrayed and sold out by their standard bearers, and that because of that treachery their interests will not have serious voice for many years to a generation.

This is *NOT* something I am happy about, contrary to what a lot of Dipper supporters believe of me. I liked having a strong three fold political dynamic and parties of strong progressives, centrists who navigated between progressive and centrists who used from both sides, and a moderate conservative voice with some stronger conservative voices within it. I thought we had a very rich and healthy political culture and dynamic with this reality, and I think what we have had evolve is a direct result of Brian Mulroney's actions, and I blame hm for our reality more than anyone else. It was his actions and decisions that created the Bloc Quebecois by bringing in the soft nationalists to his caucus (like Layton did more recently, which is one of the choices the NDP made that I find most worrisome) AND he damaged the conservative brand so severely that it empowered a fringe movement within it to becoming the replacement representative choice over the next decade and a half.

I weep for our current reality politically and the choices available to us. The only chance I see now for a strong voice of the left is the long route you noted, I don't see any other way at this point, the NDP on its own has sold out its decades long hard worked for established record of of being a principles first party, and this is something like virginity, once you lose your virginity, you can't get it back. That so many within the NDP failed to understand this going into this, or worse thought it was a good trade-off to become the new alternative choice instead of the Libs (which I always said was wishful thinking) also showed just how far from the old school true party of progressive principles not just the leadership but the supporters have become, and there is no simple or quick fix for that IMHO.

It is a bad situation all around MoS, with no quick or easy answers from where I see things. The one thing I am going to do is try to make sure the NDP does not profit from their actions, anymore than I want to see the CPC profit from its treacherous choices, I find myself trusting the Libs because they have changed the least and ironically enough have shown the most integrity overall (which granted is not saying much in the current reality, but still...*sigh*)

Anonymous said...

Well I would like one of you to state you issues with the party instead of broad statements.
Then I could try and make sense of what you are all on about.

Purple library guy said...

Well, the current NDP:
--Doesn't want to increase personal taxes on the rich, even the super-rich
--Seems OK with "free trade" deals which would be dangerous enough to economic sovereignty if they were about trade, but which in any case are not primarily about trade but rather about greater powers and privileges for corporations, particularly transnational ones
--Seems basically fine with the concept of helping wage imperialist war; reserves the right to niggle over details, sure, but is pretty gung ho about the general concept

--Has said nothing in some time about old fashioned left-ish ideas like:
--Industrial policy (including its modern "green" incarnation)
--Direct job creation as a way to reduce unemployment
--Social housing
Or more newfangled, merely liberal ideas like financial transaction taxes

Some of these latter may be vaguely supported in some very quiet policy statement somewhere, but one doesn't get the feeling an NDP government would do anything about them.

The Mound of Sound said...

Why aren't rank and file NDP supporters up in arms over the 'centrification' of their party, its transformation into Latter Day Liberals?

Scotian said...


That has been a question of mine for almost a decade now.

I know that my wife, a former hard core Dipper felt driven out of the party by these changes. So I have to assume there have been some others, but when you look at the online partisans of the NDP it seems to me like they suffer from a curious blindness to what has happened. One of the things I used to say back in the early Layton years was why was it OK for him to change the basic focus of the NDP from principles first to seats first without getting permission from the wider party at large, to which I heard insults to crickets. The insults generally were about how I was a Lib operative upset that the NDP were finally fighting back the way Libs worked, which I found the irony of incredible given the point I was raising.

I honestly think what has been happening is that the NDP partisans have combined their hatred of all things Liberal (be it rational or irrational, while I find some of it understandable, there are other things like their continued equation of Libs and CPC as the same thing despite the abundant reality of how wildly disconnected from reality that is impossible to understand) with what they felt was their best chance ever to gain real power of federal government by teaming up with the Cons to drive the Libs out of the picture, this despite their so called belief in democracy. It is one thing to strive to defeat your rival, quite another in my view to destroy/obliterate them which clearly was the intent of the past decade. This is part of what I've meant whenever I talk about the NDP buying the worst of both worlds, they took the traits of the Libs that they always denounced as why they should not be trusted where it came to how they lusted for power first and did whatever it took to get there, and they did so by sacrificing their decades long hard worked for established record of actually being a party of principles first.

I do think there is going to be a tipping point for a lot of the NDP voters out there wondering why they should stay with the NDP if they are only going to be the old Liberals in NDP clothing. Now whether they shift their votes or sit on them I don't know, but I do think that something is going to happen. My wife for example has gone to finding the Liberals under Trudeau acceptable to her, that whatever issues she has with them on policy that they are still the most like their old selves as opposed to her other two choices which she has found mutated beyond recognition for her (granted the PCPC were a long shot for her but she said she maybe could support some of them, it depended on who it was at the time). I wonder how many other usual NDP voters out there may be making the same calculation, or are thinking that it is time to punish the NDP for going too far to the middle by supporting the Libs to send the message. I don't know, but I do think that long term loyalty that Layton was able to hold onto will be far harder for Mulcair to maintain the grip on.

Layton could get away with it because of his personal characteristics combined with his history within the Party, Mulcair lacks both and I think that will pose a real problem for those willing to believe in Jack despite thee chances making them uncomfortable. Under Layton they could convince themselves that once he came to power he would use it for NDP positions, Mulcair coming from the Quebec Libs with little roots in the federal NDP does not offer that hope for these folks, and I think that will be a significant factor next election.

The Mound of Sound said...

Scotian, I have found that party supporters break into two disparate groups.

The larger group are the 'joiners', those who want to belong to a team. Every party has these and counts on them. They identify with the party, perhaps because it is the party their parents supported, and their continuing support can be almost unshakable.

The smaller group may be drawn to a party for its policy and platform. They support the party because they believe it conforms to their general values and beliefs. When their party abandons those once shared values, these supporters can detach from a party they no longer choose to follow. Some actually call themselves "Disaffected."

One of the greatest disappointments for me in belonging to these erstwhile 'progressive' sites, is the number of voices constantly denouncing Harper and the virtual lack of focus on the shortcomings of our own parties.

There's not much we can do to reform the Harper Conservatives but there's a great deal our own parties can do to re-connect with the public who have abandoned politics altogether. We don't speak of things that resonate with these people, that speak to their very real concerns, that might make them believe there are solutions to be found within the political institutions. That's on us. That's our fault.

Scotian said...


You'll get no argument from me about where one can make the most change as you said in your closing paragraph. I've never been a party partisan, as I have said before I am one of the old school unaligned swing centrist voters, I go where I think it does the most good that election cycle. That said though I have always tried to be a well informed voter and have a good sense of the basic policy and leadership directions of the major national parties, which is why I find the recent tendency to treat politics like a sports event especially infuriating. Although I find the replacement of the focus to taxpayers from citizens in many ways just as infuriating.

The main thing I respected the NDP for in the past was how it tried to live up to its principles, and how its membership held their leadership to account. Layton changed all that. The Liberals clearly let their dominance of the 90s go right to their heads, but they still also provided some good government, and one of the reasons why they were so unable to compete with the newly formed CPC was because they made serious changes to political fundraising rules which put them at serious disadvantage even before Harper got at them and increased their impact on Liberal fortunes. For me the PCPC lost much credibility after the fall of Clark, but even there we saw those within the party speaking out when they disagreed with the current path of the party.

What we have these days though is none of that, while I have said the Libs are the most part closest to their old form as opposed to the other two, that does not let them off their own hook for their failings. I just find them the least objectionable choice, and the one that currently I think has the best chance of restoring anything remotely resembling good government after the cataclysm that is the Harper government.

I think that mainly because of the institutional knowledge within the party combined with my belief that JT is probably going to be decent at putting together a strong team instead of trying to be yet another one man show, which for a Parliamentary system such as ours is not the way to go. Indeed, it is his youth and relative inexperience that makes me confident he will be the one most likely to return to the notion of a governing team, as opposed to the leader driven politics we have been seeing as of late and that Harper took to such extremes.

BTW, I love the self reference there regarding the "disaffected" term, not that I needed to be told that about you since I've been reading you for some time. What infuriates me about so many of the "progressives" out there is the inability to do shading, they in many respects aren't much better than the CPCers when it comes to with us/against us binary thinking about where you must be. It wasn't so long ago that in this nation to be a true mix of political philosophies was not strange or unusual, like socially progressive, fiscally conservative and one of many different positions when it came to foreign policy. I don't belong to any simply defined political perspective, I'm very much of the old school that way, and I have no plans on ever changing that, I just get very tired of having others tell me that they know my political views better than I do.

Sorry, this has been a long, hard, and bad week personally for me, and I suspect it is infecting my comments. I try not to be so negative/bitter/pessimistic, there is more than enough of that out thee as it is.