Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Is The NDP In Big Trouble?

Any objective reading of the current political landscape suggests BIG problems for the NDP. I've noticed recently that Layton and the NDP are almost invisible on the national stage, it's as though they aren't part of the conversation. This predicament is especially relevant, given the current minority parliament, which effectively gives the NDP the balance of power. You would think Layton would be front and center, enjoying a great deal of face time. Instead, Layton seems lost in the political wilderness, an afterthought. A major announcement, in the heart of NDP friendly Toronto, to announce his budget demands reveals the following:
the assembled media horde in its entirety included the following: one (1) TV cameraman; one (1) girl from a local radio station; and one (1) reporter from a national magazine...

Not unreasonably, it was decided that Layton would wait a little longer before speaking - the time allowing, hopefully, for more cameras and microphones to arrive.

Finally, about 20 minutes past 11:00, the media contingent steady at three, Layton decided to get this over with...

These sorts of orchestrated events are awkward at the best of times. But there is perhaps nothing more uncomfortable than watching a man of conviction plead a seemingly important message to an audience of three (most of whom aren't all that interested in what he has to say to begin with). On this ugly morning it seemed almost dehumanizing. One had to fight the urge to give Layton a hug.

A pathetic turnout, by any one's definition and clearly disheartening. Incidents like the above may explain why Layton has looked decidedly sullen and down in recent interviews.

Lost in the "Dion is falling" poll-inspired talk, are the abysmal, consistent, NDP numbers. Those results are in the official party status realm, a thought almost unthinkable just a few months ago. What went wrong, and is it temporary?

There is no question the NDP has suffered during the environment debate. Despite the most progressive environmental agenda, the NDP has failed to benefit from rise of the issue. In fact, the environment has been a setback, as other parties steal the NDP thunder, while the Greens siphon votes. The environment has always been a central NDP plank, and frankly it was the main reason why I voted for them last election, so any permanent erosion on this file is a major blow.

I really believe the NDP is at a historic crossroads, and I think party insiders recognize this fact. If the NDP fails to rally, the next election could be an ugly affair. I'm not suggesting extinction, but real relevance lost. It will be hard for Layton to make the important distinctions, that normally give the NDP political room, now that we have a left-leaning Liberal leader and a feisty May.

Down in the polls, squeezed from all sides, and nobody seems to care.

UPDATE

NDP MP Pat Martin expressing concern:.
NDP MP Pat Martin says his party must make significant gains in the next federal election or be forced to admit it may never be anything more than a fringe player and end its 46-year existence. Despite a recent rise in fortunes for the NDP, the Winnipeg MP admitted his party has led a tenuous existence, allowing bold policies -- such as calling for free first degrees for college and university students -- to be hidden behind timid language. "So, the result has been to bore people into some kind of a stupor where nobody has any idea what we stand for anymore." A poor electoral result could leave the NDP with few options, Mr. Martin said, including, in the case of a minority government, a merger or coalition with the Liberals.

23 comments:

Dana said...

Oh they care allright they just haven't the foggiest notion of how to climb out of Jack's asscrack.

The blind, deaf and dumb hubris displayed by Layton over the past 24 months or so, presumably with the compliance of what passes for the party braintrust, convinced me before the last election that there just wasn't enough mature considered judgement left in the present party to be untrusted with the lockbox keys even over a weekend.

I think Jack's been watching too much Oprah or he's been brainwashed by repeated watchings of the DVD of The Secret.

He's like Bush...both think that what they say will come true if they just say it often enough and believe it, like, really really really hard.

They're boinkin' Tinker Bell to death is what they're doin'.

Steve V said...

"They're boinkin' Tinker Bell to death is what they're doin'."

Nice imagery.

Gayle said...

For my part, I became disillusioned with the NDP during the last election, and they have done nothing to redeem themselves since then. Their petty, immature "drive by smears" is right out of the Harper handbook.

Like many people, I hold the NDP responsible for this Harper government, and I will not forgive them.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Standin' on the outside lookin' in, I hadn't considered what Dana's sayin' about Layton bein' a crap leader. I sorta thought he looked good compared t' Harpoon an' Dion.

I gotta friend who's also a Greenie like me an' he's all fer some sorta GPC-NDP merger. I been tellin' him that probbly ain't possible but who knows how far the desperate Dippers'll go. They'd hafta cast off the socialist yoke an' embrace marketplace-driven solutions.

The Greens is fiscally conservative an' most Dippers ain't so I can't see the Dips throwin' in with us treehuggers.

The Dips is becomin' an anachronism - a blip on the political radar - a flash in the pan - a fart in a windstorm.

JB

Steve V said...

"I gotta friend who's also a Greenie like me an' he's all fer some sorta GPC-NDP merger"

A Liberal/Green merger seems a more natural fit. I remember Mark Francis blogging about a couple prominent Greens moving to the Liberals, and there is talk of both parties working together in the next election, to avoid vote splitting. Having said that, I don't think that is on the table anytime soon- although a Liberal government with May as environment minister sounds good from here.

gayle

I voted NDP last election despite Layton. Those debate performances were one of the most embarrassing displays of partisan crap I have ever seen. As I said before, their environmental policies were really in touch with reality, coupled with Martin, the idea bereft, pandering fool, and it seemed a logical protest vote (my riding is a gimmie for the Tories).

Gayle said...

My riding could very well go NDP in the next election (Rahim Jaffer is our MP), and I very much like the NDP candidate (Linda Duncan), so I will be voting NDP again. It was hard to vote for her though, expecially after Layton came out with all his tough on crime policies - which, if you are familiar with me you know are a realy issue for me.

Duncan ran on a strong environmental platform. She said she would not run for the Green party because they are too fiscally conservative.

A View From The Left said...

I admit that I too voted NDP durring the last election, but it was more an exercise of which leader/party did I find the least repulsive then which party I most agreed with. Since the last election my opinion of Layton has dropped dramatically, and it's now at the point where I can't imagine voting for him again.

As for a NDP-Green merger, I can't see that happening as both parties seem too determined to hate one another at the moment. From my point of view a Liberal-Green merger is much more likely, but we wont see one for quite a while.

Steve V said...

"which leader/party did I find the least repulsive"

Isn't that a sad statement.

ottlib said...

The problem is Jack Layton has decided that he wants to replace the Liberals as the Official Opposition.

Unfortunately, he is going about it the wrong way. Instead of articulating a clear vision of where he wants to take Canada and well developed policy proposals he is just bashing the Liberals.

That works somewhat for the Conservatives because Canadians have the mindset that they and the Liberals are the only ones that can really govern the country.

The NDP has never enjoyed that status and they will have to overcome that before they can move into a position where Canadians see them as a viable alternative for being the government.

In addition by bashing the Liberals they create the impression that they are allied with the Conservatives, which really alienates their base.

So they find themselves in the situation where the have an alienated base and the remainder of the electorate not thinking they are serious alternative to either the Liberals or the Conservatives.

That is a recipe for irrelevance at the least and destruction at the most and it is going to come down to Jack Layton to figure out a way to stop that from happening.

However, from my point of view I do not think he is capable of figuring it out so he very well could be the last leader of the NDP.

Steve V said...

"The problem is Jack Layton has decided that he wants to replace the Liberals as the Official Opposition."

I definetly think Layton felt this way after the election. I defy anyone to find a QP in the late spring, early summer, where a Layton question didn't reference the Liberals- it was almost like he forgot the government was a secondary concern. This approach is where I believe the problems began and the partisan posturing had a negative effect.

You can't blame Layton for ambitious aspirations, afterall the only way for NDP expansion would have to be at the expense of the Liberals. However, instead of the slow and steady approach, Layton over-estimated the landscape and lost focus. To have a NDP leader attacking the Liberals more than the Conservatives makes no basic philosophical sense, the NDP would have been better served attacking a more obvious foe. We really haven't seen much in the way of effective opposition from the party that is often times the political conscience.

wayward son said...

Well I am a Green Party member and voter. I used to be an NDP voter. In fact back in the fall of 2000 I started helping a couple (environmentalist) NDP activists who were already pushing hard to make Layton the next leader of the Federal NDP. I was there at the convention in 2003 when he won the leadership. I believed it would be a major turning point for the NDP (I might still be right just in the opposite direction). He seemed like the ideal candidate. He was a commanding presence in Toronto city council. What happened to him? I am not sure. Most friends and family were shocked to find out that I didn't vote NDP in '04 - I voted Green instead. Did I expect too much from Layton? Maybe, but I wanted to see the environment front and center. I know that the NDP has a very good environmental platform, but the thing that worries many of my environmentalist friends who vote (or used to vote) NDP is whether or not the environment is a high enough priority to the NDP to ensure that those policies will be implemented or will they be tossed aside - thanks for the votes, but we have other priorities that the NDP deems more important. (I think that this distrust is warrented as for years we found ourselves as outsiders within the party. Our ideas thought of as 'nice' but at the same time detrimental to labor, jobs and working folk. Provincial NDP records on the environment are not great either - look at calvert for instance. The Sierra club has rated Quebec (lib), PEI (lib) and Newfoundland (con) as having the three greenest provincial governments, not Manitoba or Saskatchewan which are both NDP).

But anyways, in the 2004 capaign I rarely heard Layton talk about the environment. In 2006 it was even more rare. So I voted Green in '04 in protest to Layton not talking enough about the environment. When he brought down the government in '05 it was a couple days before the montreal climate conference which received a lot of media attention world wide but very little in Canada due to the election. I bought a GPC membership the next day and have been quite happy with that decision. I have always been a huge fan of Elizabeth May (I know many NDPers who have hated her for years and, of course, I know many more who hate her now.) and Layton cozying up to Harper hasn't improved my opinion of him.

But do I think that the NDP is in big trouble? Well I won't go that far as they got less than 7% of vote in '93 and bounced back. But I do think that they need to renew again, but I don't see that happening until after a new election and new leader.

Scotian said...

Well, if memory serves me correctly everyone that has commented here already as well as Steve V knows exactly how I feel about the NDP overall historically, how I feel about Layton and why, and that by the time of the last election he had already disgusted me to the point I voted against my NDP MP a woman I have known personally since I was a young teen and have a very high regard/respect for both professionally and personally. Yet I was so infuriated with the insanity Layton was willing to risk, a Harper government and potentially a majority at that, just to try and displace the Liberals.

If Harper and the CPC had been another Mulroney and the CPC the old PCPC I would not be making this argument. As much as I had (and still have I might add, some of them were not minor like his willingness to recruit clear Quebec nationalists to run as MPs federally thereby creating the nucleus/seed of the BQ as well as its founder and first leader Lucien Bouchard) problems with Mulroney I always thought he liked/loved Canada and wanted to better it even if I thought he was going about it the wrong way. Harper is different, he literally is contemptuous of what Canada has become, his entire adult career both public and private since the mid 80s has been to advocate what is for Canada's federal politics an *extremely* hard right conservative view of how this country should operate/function and it would require literally a revolutionizing of our current structure to achieve. It was only within the last 24 months or so that suddenly that Harper vanished to become the "new and improved" Harper PM of the centrist epiphanies claimed to have experienced yet never described nor why his old positions were so wrong.

Layton had been around the federal scene more than long enough to get a first hand taste of what Harper truly is like from before the transformation, yet he is acting like he has bought it, at least enough to be comfortable loudly proclaiming "Liberal Tory same old story" at every possible opportunity despite the reality that this time around there are several *VERY* significant difference between the two parties, their approaches and their overall destinations/goals with the so called "Tory" side of the equation being the ones headed in the literal opposite direction of Layton and the NDP's entire history as a party while the Libs are at least in many respects in the same general direction if nowhere near the speed NDPers would prefer. Yet Layton literally thinks it is worth taking the risk of Harper with long term power, especially a majority but even several years continuous minority can do us massive harm, possibly beyond repair while a majority nearly guarantees it.

I have spoken many times here and elsewhere about how Layton is literally too stupid and/or arrogant to recognize the dangers he courts for himself, his party and most of all the country as a whole with this approach. Whether he does it with intent knowingly and thinking he can manage the risks/damages done in the process or without recognizing it was and still is for me immaterial as far as determining whether I can support him and the NDP in any way while he leads it (including the $1.75 my vote carries with it along with the moral authority to speak for me all votes inherently carry with them from each citizen casting one) because either way shows massive leadership and character defects/problems within Layton.

That make him unacceptable to govern and any vote to the NDP risks that, just remember Ontario in 1990 and how improbable anyone ever thought that would be literally weeks before that election result let alone from longer back than that since the birth of the NDP if one wants to dispute that premise/assumption. Harper and his American movement conservative inspired (just look at his culture war policy speech and paper in 2003 as CA leader and LOO) Straussian influenced Calgary School of political thought is not rooted in anything resembling traditional Canadian Conservative thinking, indeed in many respects it is the very thing that Canadian Conservativism was designed/dedicated to oppose. None of this is hard to discover for oneself, especially not if someone has a decent background/grounding in politics and basic rudimentary research ability and an internet connection.

So whether Layton is deliberately gambling with the future of this country or whether he is too blind to recognize the disasters he courts for all Canadians by being so (especially progressively minded ones, supposedly those he most represents) is immaterial to the reality he is enabling exactly that. What has amazed me quite frankly is the amount of loyalty he has been able to command from his party while doing all this. The NDP traditionally was a principles before votes party far more than the reverse and the reverse of that is the kind of politics Layton has been playing for the most part since he came to lead the party. That is why until now it would seem most progressives felt it a safe place to park votes when they did not want to vote for the Liberals (and yes they are a progressive/liberal party over all even now, the fact that they may be far more centrist/balanced/moderate in their approach is part of why this country exists in the form it does today, and I for one happen to think that form exquisitely beautiful indeed despite its failings and areas needing improvement upon), and Layton has single-handedly via the acquiescence of his party leadership/caucus endangered that (possibly forever, more likely a significant period of time of at least 2-3 elections, possibly several more than that) among regular voters as opposed to political diehards and party partisans which are a fraction of the overall voter support of the party.

It would seem that the voters out there share my overall concerns with the actions Layton has taken and what he has enabled by doing so. As corrupt and stale as the Martin Libs had become (and I have no problems saying they were, although I never agreed they were anywhere near as corrupt as the CPCers were saying all along and the NDP started chiming in with near the end) they were a far better partner for the Layton NDP to work with than Harper and his CPC to get policies they favoured into place. They also were natural allies in more than simply opposing Harper and his parties policies (wheras the sole commonaity between the NDP and CPC policies of today is mutual loathing/opposition/hatred of the Liberal party and their mutual dedication to its demise as a potential governing party), they shared overall agreement on basic human rights issues, the importance of protecting the weak in society (if not to the same degree of support felt appropriate) and other significant general issues/policies than need to list now to make/prove that point. So why does Layton throw out the better option to provide for a much worse one, one that could leave him even weaker in the next Parliament (which appears to have been the result despite Harper's weak minority) and place his and his party's most dangerous opponent in power?

Simple. He thought he could bump the Liberals off as the alternate governing party of the "left" and reduce the Libs to what the NDP were, even if that meant letting the Harper CPC a turn in power. Indeed, I suspect he was thinking that after one term of that most Canadians would support a sharp turn leftwards to correct for the various unwanted changes a majority Harper government would have introduced and turned to he and the NDP for that. The problem is though as I have said before is that when one reads through what Harper has consistently desired in terms of devolution of federal powers that once sacrificed will be all but impossible to regain that would gut the ability of the federal government to put in place new national federal social safety net programs like Medicare one sees the wishful thinking/illusionary nature of that kind of thinking. Layton is gravely mistaken if he thinks he can undo the damage of even one Harper majority, Harper is a revolutionary and not a radical, and given the power that goes with a majority in our system that would enable him to enact quite a lot of his agenda and really screw this country up but good.

I also really resent having to vote against my NDP MP, she was the best candidate in my riding, although I felt the local Lib was a decent choice so my voting for her did not feel all that bad even if on the national level I was voting for the least evil rather than strong preference/support of. Layton has done nothing but infuriate me with his obtuseness, be it real or feigned, about the real threat to this country. The level of disingenuousness if feigned would make his emotional rhetoric and lofty above the partisan fray attitude he and his party like to project particularly offensive in nature/ethics/morality on top of the obvious hypocrisy of it.

If I am correct in my belief that there are many Canadian voters out there that feel this way (and I have said on more than a few times that this is something I am taking on my faith in the past actions of the Canadian voters in the past) that when their votes are combined can add up to a very nasty impact of the NDP's future viability as a national party, let alone for any consideration as a possible government. I have remarked many times since the election that I am surprised that the other major players in the NDP do not recognize the terrible risks Layton is courting for them, their party, and the principles/ideals which they are their party represent and feel Canada captures at least in part thanks to their input over the decades. Perhaps we may finally be seeing such begin to happen, but if it has it may be too late depending on whether we have an election within the next several months (say before fall, by then enough time would have elapsed that I could see significant repair being done with a concerted effort taking root/effect) for the NDP to even come close to maintaining what they currently hold.

I would hate to see the NDP lost; they have been a good voice of conscience if nothing else as well as being a major/significant/key vehicle via which some very good policies for this country and its citizens have come through. Layton appears willing to sacrifice the long term potential of the party as well as its future for the major gamble (and it is not like the odds are all that good nor ever were even at the height of the Liberal misfortunes in 2005, the election, and the aftermath while Libs were leaderless..not that Layton clearly wasn't trying his all anyways to make it happen no matter how unlikely) of replacing the Libs as a governing party within the next decade at most and as Official Opposition in the meantime.

Worse, as I have also said before it looks like he made this decision unilaterally or at most only by consulting with the very top of his party in private and the issuing the orders on down. For a party that claims to be a true representation of the people (and have in the past actually managed to live up to that boast better than most) with bottom up driven policies and goals that more than anything should show just how damaging Layton is being within his own party itself, let alone to the future of the party and the nation. In some ways he has a minor cult of personality around him too, although not nearly as bad as Harper's, and unlike Harper Layton doesn't seem to be actively encouraging it even if he is not going out of his way to stomp on it. If I am wrong and others can show otherwise please feel free, this is something I am saying is my impression, not my certain/sure knowledge and there is a very big difference between those two concepts.

Good post Steve V, and I think between you and your other commentators to this point (the first nine anyways, by the time this post is written and published it may have gone up) have shown exactly why the NDP is likely in real trouble in the next election and possibly for much more than that. You know I am quite inclined to agree since I have been quite open with my views on the Layton leadership and the IMHO insane risks he is courting given how and where he has "led" his party and alas this country to date. Even considering that though I think you are clearly on to something with this analysis/post that the NDP true believers had better start taking very seriously very soon or else they will pay for it sharply. The question will only be by how much and whether the rest of the nation must pay along with them in terms of more Harper government especially a majority no matter how slim.

P.S. Hope you don't mind the length, you never have before but there is always a first time...:)

Steve V said...

wayward son

I think you offer an interesting perspective. Layton's approach with the Conservatives has had an impact on many people who could entertain a vote for the NDP. This illogical strategy has alienated people, there is no way to reconcile the rhetoric with the actions.

Scotian

I can't really add much to your comments, thoughtful as always.

"I would hate to see the NDP lost; they have been a good voice of conscience if nothing else as well as being a major/significant/key vehicle via which some very good policies for this country and its citizens have come through."

The NDP influences the political discussion beyond their seat counts. If they forget about the irrational lure of power, they can be quite effective. "Conscience" is the apt word, minus the pius attitude displayed lately.

wilson61 said...

Why all the poopooing of Jack?
Recent poll on 'best PM' had Jack ahead of Dion.
''1000 respondents from Feb. 15 to Feb. 19 -- reported 46 per cent said Harper would make the best prime minister.

NDP Leader Jack Layton was their second choice at 29 per cent while Dion trailed at 25 per cent.''

"They" say, a leaders poll numbers rising preceeds the party rise, and vice versa.

Can Libs survive without the NDP supporting them?
Why should Dippers support the Libs? Libs are powerless in opposition, and want to 'absorb' the NDP.
The opportunity is present for Jack to take his party past being the Liberal rump and into a new era.
Do Libs think Dippers are stupid?

wayward son said...

"The opportunity is present for Jack to take his party past being the Liberal rump and into a new era."

I will believe that when I see it. They said the same thing about Broadbent's NDP in the late 80's.

Steve V said...

Wilson's hatred for all things Liberals clouds his judgement sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Most of the posts here have it bang on - watching the NDP start off every comment with a Liberal bashing has been tedious and really annoying, but watching the conscience of the country in bed with the Cons has been completely repulsive. Over a year ago I e-mailed our riding's NDP MP asking if they had forgotten that in our riding they had been voted in to keep the cons out and that they should be in opposition to the cons not the Liberals. He agreed and said he would bring it up at caucus, obviously to no avail. So I guess like Harper's caucus the edicts come from the top.

Susan

daniel said...

The NDP is hardly "in bed" with the Conservatives, and those of you advocating for some sort of truce between the NDP and the Liberals seem to be suffering from historical myopia.

Whenever the NDP has worked with the Liberals in the past, the Liberals are usually the ones who benefit, and the NDP is lost in the shuffle in the next election. Trudeau infamously referred to the NDP as the "rump" of the Liberal party; Bob Rae would have been a footnote in Ontario political history after the expiration of the Accord, had Peterson not utterly squandered his newly-won majority by calling a super-early election; Tommy Douglas was the driving force behind many of Pearson's progressive policies, but the NDP had a mediocre showing in the most elections in the 1960's; Martin governed with the support of the NDP, but in the 2006 election, the NDP gained as almost as many seats from the Conservatives as they did from the Liberals. So much for "basic political philosophy," eh?

The Liberals are essentially a "diet-Tory" party who use the NDP when it's politically expedient, and discard most of their ideas when in a majority government (see Chretien's fiscal and social policy for details). If Dippers are short-sighted enough to be conned into voting Liberal to stop a party that, frankly, is not that far to the right of the Liberals, then they'll reap the "benefits": the NDP will win a single-digit seat total, and the Liberals will forget all about whatever they professed to believe in order to lure NDPers into voting for them.

Really, the Liberals and Conservatives are FAR closer in terms of ideology than the Liberals and NDP: why do Dippers feel so totally comfortable with the Liberals, and so totally uncomfortable with the Conservatives?

Steve V said...

daniel

Fair points, except for this:

"that, frankly, is not that far to the right of the Liberals"

You're kidding right? If anyone REALLY believes that, they need to give their head a shake, seriously.

dalestreet said...

Didn't the NDP offer the Martin Liberal Minority government an olive branch in the autumn of 2005? Didn't the Martin Liberals tell the NDP to go pound salt? Most of the posters here make it sound like the NDP didn't offer and the Liberal government had no opportunity to take that offer.

Martin had a weak hand at the poker table and instead of folding, he went all in, hoping that Layton was bluffing. How is Martin's stake raise and stupid bluff call the NDP's fault, when all Layton did was play the hand he had? To top it off, Layton didn't even have his poker face on, he sat at the table smiling, rubbing his hands, saying "this is a winning hand, this is a winning hand!" over and over again.

I just hope that Stephane Dion and his team aren't as stupid or as arrogant or as ignorant as Paul Martin and his team were or we will end up with a Conservative Majority.

If you lot want to win the next fight then you should stop worrying about who may or may not have your back and learn how throw a punch.

Scotian said...

Dalestreet:

Didn't Layton offer an ultimatum to Martin? Didn't he tell him that unless he did exactly what Layton wanted on health care that he could no longer support the Martin government because the urgency was so great/critical? Since then exactly what has Layton gotten from Harper on the health care file and for that matter if it was so important in the fall of 2005 to bring down Martin's minority with why then has not Layton been screaming about it against Harper for the last 13 months, hmmmm?

Sorry, Layton acted in his own self interest in the fall of 2005, and he was not making offers in good faith. He just wanted a pretext to vote the Libs out over so he wouldn't be blamed for the dreaded Christmas election no one wanted to be responsible for triggering. If he really has been so concerned over the state of the medical system that he pulled the plug on the minority when he did then he would have made his election campaign about it and continued to press it on the new CPC government. Yet for some reason, I can't imagine what, Layton did none of this. So the notion that Layton was forced into this by Martin and the Liberal's stubborn refusal to recognize good sense by noble Layton that so many NDPers want to believe in simply is not supported by the actions of Layton afterwards. In other words, you all got spun successfully by Layton and the NDP.

Understand something; I am not a partisan of any party. My sole political interest is defeating Harper and his Calgary School of political thought because of the danger they represent to all progressives in this country which happens to be the supermajority if one goes by the voting results of the last several decades now. So I have no particular reason to defend Martin or the Libs actions, and the main reason I question Layton’s is that his actions (as opposed to his mighty words/rhetoric) are those of a political scammer and not a true convictions driven person/politician. He has decided that the principles his party represents is acceptable to delay (if not sacrifice altogether) by letting Harper become the government despite the clear truth that Harper is far more of a threat to any progressive agenda than the Liberals even under Martin could ever have been.

Why is Layton doing so? Because he is clearly more interested in power than he is in the principles his party has always represented and that he claims to hold in the highest regard/importance despite all of his and the NDP spin to the contrary. It is more important to him to weaken the Liberals and take seats from them than it is to oppose the greatest threat this country has faced in decades to the long term survival as a nation let alone a progressive one. I cannot condone such irresponsible and clearly insanely risky behaviour, unlike so the so called real progressives within the NDP that are supporting Layton in this despite until recently having a fair amount of respect for the NDP traditionally and being a former occasional NDP voter until the last election thanks to Layton.

The reason why I hold Layton in such contempt is that I believe he is too clever a politician to not recognize what kind of threat Harper truly represents and is willing to gamble that he can limit his damage by becoming the government to follow Harper's. I think he is taking insane risks with the future of this country to try and make his party the new alternative governing party in place of the Liberals. I think that this indicates both a disturbing lust for power within Layton as well as very bad judgment. I also think that most every NDPer that claims "Liberal Tory same old story" is either lying or too ignorant of what they are comparing to recognize the reality that this time round the Libs and the CPC are truly very different parties fundamentally and have very different directions they would take the country in. With the Lib one being in the same general direction as most progressives (it was the Libs after all that wrote and implemented the Charter which is a very liberal/progressive document/tool) while the Harper CPC one is nigh on completely diametrically opposite it should be obvious that there is clearly a significant divergence between the two parties. So it is no longer "Lib Tory same old story" but "Liberal Conservative reverses that narrative." Either deal with it or not, but do not try telling me and those of us that actually have studied Harper and his Calgary School that there is little difference between them and the Liberals, even the Liberals when they were under Martin, it is utter male bovine excrement.

As I said before in my first comment, if this was the old PCPC with even Mulroney or someone like him I would not be making this argument since there really wasn't all that much difference between the old PCPC and Liberals, more a difference of degree in many respects than in kind. That though is not the case where the CPC is concerned, any more than Reform/CA and the Liberals were the same thing. Don't tell me you think you can argue that there was little difference between the fundamental Reform/CA policy platforms and those of the Liberals. If you think that then you are either so extremely far left wing yourself that you cannot make such a simple gross distinction, ignorant of the respective realities of those respective parties and their goals, or a liar. This is not your parent's Conservative party anymore, this is a whole different ball game, and these are not Tories in any proper definition of the word, it like so many other things is a deceptive mask under which a very ugly beast indeed is just waiting to be let free since the only thing keeping him on chains is the lack of a majority.

Part of the problem I have with some NDPers on this is that they think I must be brainwashed by the Libs or a partisan of theirs, that somehow no truly independent progressive thinker could come to think such things. Instead of showing why my concerns about Harper and the CPC are baseless, instead of showing why there is no difference between the Libs and CPC I instead get attacked as a shill, fool, dupe if I get a response at all. I am supposed to accept just because I am told by NDPers and Layton that Liberal Tory same old story that it is true/so, instead of questioning it and verifying it for myself which any responsible voter should be doing about what any political leader says regardless of political affiliation. Well, it is not going to happen, and since I can and have in the past shown why there is a vast difference between the Harper CPC and the Liberals while the NDPers have not been able to make their case that the CPC and Libs are the same (only that this used to be true, but then that was the PCPC which was sold out/betrayed and the CPC that rose from the ashes were Reform/CA in moderate clothing) it likely never will happen either. Indeed, it is the inability to recognize just how dangerous the CPC truly is that discredits many NDP voices, because there is a vast chasm of difference between the threat to the NDP agenda and progressive agendas generally from the Liberal approach to governing and the CPC approach to governing.

I don't blame the NDP for wanting to attack the Liberals while they were the government, or even making them the primary focus of attacks in the last election, but that is not the same as saying they should only have attacked the Libs and only given cursory attacks against the Harper CPC. Worse though is that once the CPC came to power Layton spent most of 2006 primarily bashing/targeting the Liberals despite they were not the ones in power any more. That shows just how unworried Layton is about Harper and the CPC governing despite the evidence of just how revolutionary the Harper CPC is, and how much more focused Layton is on taking out the Libs to gain increased power for his party than he is in opposing the truly scary threat to progressives everywhere Harper and the CPC. That is not defensible, and the fact that Layton and the NDP still tend to sound in their rhetoric like it is the Libs still running things more often than the CPC underscores just how disconnected they are from reality, and I strongly suspect the next election will back this up unless Layton and the NDP start really hammering Harper and the CPC for the dangerous hard right Cons that they are. The fact that they have a very weak minority is the only reason we have not seen the full scary Harper agenda, as it is we have seen more than enough to scare any sensible progressive from the judiciary to media controls to use of national security secrecy and fear of terrorism to beat their opponents over the head with and game/control the government infrastructure with to serve at the behest of the CPC first instead of all Canadians first. Just as we are seeing happened with Bush, the GOP, and the federal prosecutors clearly being selected to work for Bush and the GOP first instead of applying the laws equally without prejudice.

So colour me unconvinced by your and other Layton/NDP defenders on this matter. I go by actions and clear consequences from actions far more than I do from rhetoric and words alone. By that standard Layton is a major disappointment, and worse by taking this approach has shown himself to be a dangerous useful tool for Harper and his CPC to make themselves seem moderate and centrist when they are anything but. Layton is willing to risk selling out the long term future of both the NDP and this nation in the hope he can make enough short term gains to supplant the Libs and follow up on Harper's CPC government and finally show Canada what a true "progressive"/NDP government would look like. I think he is making a very bad bet with the odds stacked against him and it also reads very much as an all or nothing bet in which a lose will cost the NDP (and Canada) all. No party leader willing to act in such a manner deserves any support IMHO, and from the looks of the wider public many other independent progressive swing voters that once considered the NDP as a viable option agree with me, and that while Layton is running it that it is not a viable place to place a vote. It is not like the NDP has been able to even hang onto the support it had in the last election, and the polls have looked bad for months now for the NDP, there must be a reason for that yet there seems little concern within NDP circles online about that and what there is doesn't place any/much of the responsibility on Layton instead blaming others from Liberals to CPCers for their misfortunes. That is also not very attractive to those that believe in the idea of personal responsibility/accountability I might add.

dalestreet said...

Wow Scotian, talk about flogging a dead horse. Yes, Harper and the CPC are farther to the right than even the Martin Liberals were. Yes, Jack Layton has been actively trying to steal votes from the Liberals. Yes, perhaps the NDP could critisise the Government bit more agressively (though I would argue that is the role of the Official Opposition, NOT the 3rd Party in a Parliament with a minority government, who holds the balance of power and should be looking to squeeze as many concessions as they can out of the ruling party).

All that aside, my point was that The Martin Liberals played the Minority Government Game poorly and lost. The fact that there seems to be a number of Liberal supporters who STILL blame that loss on one of their OPPONENTS, instead of realising that in order to win, you need to win (not hope that your opponents lose by scoring own goals or forfeiting or joining their team), is what I find alarming and sad.

If, as electoral history seems to bear out, most voters choose between the Grits and the Tories and the "other" parties are just spoilers in the race, then the supporters of those two main parties better spend their time working on their own training and not whinging about how the "also rans" trash-talk them.

daniel said...

steve v,

My assertion that the Conservatives aren't that far right of the Liberals isn't quite as off-base as you make it seem. Harper's been given the 3rd degree by Liberals these past few weeks for "stealing their ideas", and when I last checked, the Liberals weren't a "far-right" party ;)

Sure, Harper's past words may have suggested otherwise, but far worse things have been said by far more successful leaders (For example, MacKenzie King said some terrible things about Jews, but I don't recall any ethnic eugenics programs being implemented under his watch.), and, regardless of his personal belief, Harper hasn't governed that far to the right.