Which is it? Are the NDP irrelevant on the federal scene, the voice of a vocal few? or are they a party that others should be worried about?
You can't have it both ways my Liberal friends. Make a choice, which I don't care. But the credibility of your arguements go out the door when one day you post about how the NDP is hurting the country and the next that it is irrelevant and headed for oblivion. I can deal with both, and I can argue against both, but you can't have both.
The quote in question:
"I've sort of given up on them. I think Layton is not the leader I expected ... He's no Tommy Douglas. He's sort of in bed with (Prime Minister Stephen) Harper half the time, (or so) it looks to the general public, and only interested in his own advancement."
Credibility out the door? It would seem the above addresses both arguments, entirely consistent. Layton is hurting the country, which is why I'm leaving, which speaks to looming "irrelevance". The two arguments Sean posits as contradictory actually work in tandem, entirely connected, entirely logical.
I guess what Sean means, if the party is irrelevant, why does it matter what they are saying, nobody cares what a "few" think, so who cares? How can an irrelevant entity hurt the country, how can that doom Liberal fortunes?
I view today's comments as a SMALL sign, taken in isolation no big deal, people move between parties all the time. That said, the comments resonate for me, one because I came to that same conclusion on my own, and two, because it's not the first time I've heard it. In the last election I voted for the NDP, almost didn't after Layton's embarrassing debate performance, but still decided it was the best choice. Some argued that bringing down Martin was another example of opportunism, but I felt it was a tired, entirely bereft of ideas regime, that left little in the way of inspiration, or right to govern for that matter. I didn't fault Layton in the least, it seemed entirely justifable to have an election, under the circumstances. That changed in the first few months of this new government, when it became increasingly obvious that Layton was working tandem with Harper to hurt the Liberals, a naked example of ambition completely trumping philosophical leanings. Everyone has their own opinion, people can say that wasn't the case, but to me it was one of the most obvious political moves I can remember. It was there that I started to have some sympathy for the Liberals, squeezed on both sides, by two crazen politicians, so far apart on the political spectrum it was frightening, yet prepared to dance for mutual self interest.
You can point to the voting record now, but don't tell me that NDP headquarters wasn't getting some heat from certain supporters over this uncomfortable dynamic in 2006. They were, you know it and I know it, which resulted in a different approach, again based on self interest.
If you want to say the Liberal "weakness" over the past month had dampened enthusiasm in the ranks, caused disillusionment or outright hostility, you would be right. Everyone heard it, to deny otherwise is spin. However, it is equally true to say that certain people have lost their faith in the NDP in recent days, primarily as a result of their pre-occupation with attacking someone who actually takes climate change seriously, while mentioning the "do nothing" guy almost as an afterthought. This is where I get back to Sean.
The NDP has environmental credibility. It was the first, second and only reason I voted for them in 2006. Same for my 2004 Green vote, and again for my 2000 NDP vote. If there is an election this year, it will be the first time I vote Liberal in 11 years. The NDP is a coalition, but it is true to say they get considerable support from those who list the environment as a priority. This is where the distaste enters, and this is why we now see some people coming forward to criticize the NDP tactics. It's not just one old guy, it's another former MP, it's people that were once devoted allies on the green front. The reason, the NDP is not irrelevant on this file, so by targeting the only true alternative in a disporportionate way, if governing is your measure, it can cause harm. A debate about ideas, fine, that's politics, but to act as though the other plan isn't a serious one, cheapens the whole debate, and hence the blowback.
The NDP isn't irrelevant, but by harming the one party far closer ideologically (Harper the most right wing in history, Dion clearly progressive by any definition), which indirectly aids the arguments of the more natural philosophical enemy, it sets to undo it's well earned reputation. Pointing to the signs doesn't mean the endgame, it just means that you can see a path to irrelevance.
I think you can have both, because I know I'm not alone in my disillusionment with the NDP. That started when no one could accuse me of bias, in fact, my voting record serves as the spin resistent proof. The statements by Scott are spot on, which shows how a misguided perspective can lead to down times ahead for the NDP. You can have it both ways, citing examples of the damage now, based on current status, while also pointing to signs, as to why this approach could lead to eventual irrelevance. As a matter of fact, I see much of the "attacks" stemming from an internal calculation, although an entirely bad one politically, that this plan can't succeed because it has the potential to bring that irrelevance, or at least, put a central draw on the sidelines. It would seem Liberals aren't they only one thinking about possible obscurity. The irony, that "resistance" actually lends to the intial fear, which gave rise to the strategy.