Sunday, January 23, 2011

What's Up With Jack?

It's hard to separate fact from fiction with the NDP mixed messages routine. You're a bad, bad man Mr. Harper that we need to "get rid of" pronto, but we're willing to work with you if you give us some face saving scraps. Remember all that bragging about how many non confidence votes we've cast, that was so yesterday, let's "get things done" now, unlike these irresponsible Liberals who seem to be taking a position BEFORE reading the budget- tsk, tsk.

In all seriousness, I get the spin, I mean what else can the NDP do this point? As a Liberal, this scenario is well known, so my perspective takes no high ground, just a recognition once again, than when push comes to shove, all these parties are the same, all will compromise supposed core principles in the name of political expediency, self interest can and does trump. That people can still claim otherwise, well...

Are the NDP really gearing up for an election? Is this olive branch routine just pre-writ posturing so the NDP can say "we tried to work together, but.."? Or, are the NDP actually laying the groundwork to prop up this government, for what everyone agrees amounts to another year of reign? Remember all the nonsense the government put in the budget omnibus bill last year, the "end run" around Parliament, where the real agenda was found? I see nothing but embarrassment for the NDP if they support this budget, no matter what they are able to "extract".

Honest to goodness, a more mockery laden treasure trove of past NDP quotes and positions, you won't find, whatever the deal, it will never reconcile with the record to date. Liberals can tell you from experience, no matter the justification, supporting the budget, while others object with free reign, is a recipe for perpetual defence. If you accept that reality, I find it quite hard to believe the NDP will see any improved electoral position, based on supporting the budget? Maybe the situation now isn't ideal from the NDP perspective- assuming this, based on their current posture- but I highly doubt propping up this government will bring upside. What I see, no real improvement, but with the added burn of selling out.

Go re-read the lead up to last year's budget. What you'll find is the CORE NDP position centered around corporate tax cuts, giving big banks a break, etc, etc. The NDP have purposely put out a meager "demand" list, but even if these issues are dealt with, you still are left with these core affronts in the budget, no reasonable philosophical way the NDP can support such measures. And yet, the NDP might just let corporate tax cuts pass THIS year, after all the rhetoric? From the Liberals perspective, I honestly can't think of a more advantageous development, the NDP self neuters and they get to play "weak Liberals" for a year. Again, strategically, the ultimate upside here is hard to fathom, the fact Liberals would welcome it about the biggest red flag for the NDP.

What we know, the NDP clearly aren't keen on an election right now. Beyond that, it really becomes a question of how far the NDP are prepared to bend to let this budget pass. Layton is correct, Harper has a responsibility to try and hash out some agreements, that is a factor moving forward. I don't think the Conservatives want an election right now, so I suspect they will do this and that to try and secure NDP support. However, given what we already know is coming, the cornerstone budget commitments, coupled with all those jewels that will come out with subsequent budget revelations, support seems a hard, hard swallow. Strange days indeed, when the Liberal security blanket is removed from the equation...

33 comments:

DL said...

"What we know, the NDP clearly aren't keen on an election right now."

hmmm...I'm not sure who "we" is. My impression is that the NDP actually wants an election this spring more than any other party. The Tories for all their bluster know that if they fall so much as one seat short of a majority - they are probably out of power and the Liberals are still hoping for some magic bullet that will allow them to start an election campaign with a Liberal majority already in the bag. Now is actually a perfect time for an election from an NDP point of view. They have the money, the candidates, the organization ready to go, waiting 'till fall would conflict with too many provincial elections.

I think that its about a 99% certainty that we have an election this spring and the NDP is just trying to position itself as the party that tried to make parliament work and was reluctant to force an election.

Skinny Dipper said...

I do think that the Conservatives are election-ready right now. They seem focused, and know which ridings to target.

Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals will surprise Canadians with their excellence or faults depending on how well they can deal with the Conservative attacks.

My advice for Jack Layton would be to oppose the budget. The NDP will alienate loyal supporters if they support the Conservative budget. If the NDP is not ready for an election now, the party won't be ready six or twelve months from now. The same holds true for the other parties.

Even though the polls have been fairly stable during the past two years, I do think that voter support will fluctuate wildly during the campaign.

Steve V said...

Let it be said, that no matter how blue the sky, someone will still try to add an orange hue.

Jymn said...

Sadly, Skinny Dipper nails it: "Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals will surprise Canadians with their excellence or faults depending on how well they can deal with the Conservative attacks".

This is what it has come down to. The Cons wag, Iggy and Layton bark. Here's an ad, now fetch. It's no longer about Liberal or NDP strengths but about how well the opposition responds to a superior messaging machine. Rolling over is no way to run an opposition.

Gene Rayburn said...

" My impression is that the NDP actually wants an election this spring more than any other party. "

Well, someone has to take that lucrative third spot!

rockfish said...

DL means to say "the banks have the money and they will lend it to us..."

ottlib said...

This is probably Jack Layton's last election as the leader of the NDP, so do not condemn him too much for wanting to extend his tenure a little longer.

As I have said before do not try to over analyze the statements from both the NDP and the Conservatives about how they do not want an election. They mean every word they say. Both leaders of those parties have the most to lose from an election so they want to put it off as long as they can.

Will Stephen Harper sacrifice Conservative values for personal benefit? Evidence from the past 5 years should allow us to answer that question with a resounding "yes".

Would Jack Layton sacrifice a long standing NDP value for personal benefit. That remains to be seen but he certainly is making alot of noise that indicates that the answer is "yes".

stageleft said...

Party politics is all about expediency, and at this point in the NDP's life it is expedient to be (or at least pretend to be) co-operative in, of course, the name of Canadians.

If you look back over even short term Canadian political history (... say, the last 5 years) with a non-partisan eye you find it's the same BS engaged in by all of the political parties and leaders.

-- and really, what's Jack got to lose?

Skinny Dipper said...

Jymn, Ouch! That hurts depending on where I bang my hammer.

If Ignatieff says nothing about his absence from Canada, then Harper will win. If he can state that is is among many Canadians (including recent immigrants/new Canadians) who have explored and contributed to the world, then he can state that Harper is not just insulting Ignatieff, but every new Canadian in this country.

I estimate that I have been outside Canada for about two years of my life. Does that make me less Canadian?

Ignatieff should make every Conservative attack on Ignatieff an attack on all Canadians. If this is how Harper will treat Ignatieff, this is how Harper will treat Canadians.

DL said...

"Would Jack Layton sacrifice a long standing NDP value for personal benefit?"

What personal benefit? Layton can be leader of the NDP for as long as he wants the job, though quite frankly at his age and after all he's been through this past year, he's probably looking forward to one more election and stepping down with a nice send off after that. I don't think it matters to him at all personally whether the election is this spring or one year from now. But now is as good a time as any!!

Steve V said...

"If you look back over even short term Canadian political history (... say, the last 5 years) with a non-partisan eye you find it's the same BS engaged in by all of the political parties and leaders."

Bingo! That's really been the only point, as I think I reiterated in the post. Mount Pure doesn't exist!

DL said...

"Mount Pure doesn't exist!"

...and no one ever said it existed in the first place. I don't know why you keep constructing these non-existent "straw dogs".

Steve V said...

Man, that's a good one, especially with your first comment, wherein you can't even admit the obvious. The NDP absolutely need to maintain the veneer that they are a principles first party, otherwise the lack of differentation renders them meaningless. As it stands right now, the federal NDP are really just Liberals that never have to bother with actually governing. Once they have to act responsibly, their votes matter, then they look, act, sound, spin, just like the Liberals, which again raises the question- why do we need the NDP again? I think it instructive to see the difference when the NDP enjoys fourth party latitude and when they actually can shape events, the two realities are so different and yet supporters don't seem to have the STONES to admit.

DL said...

AS recently as a year ago the NDP was the only party against more corporate tax cuts and Liberals were all rolling their eyes at the very idea of putting a lid on more corporate tax cuts - now suddenly they act as if it was their idea to stop these tax cuts in the first place. There isn't enough room here to get into a discussion of Liberal/NDP policy differences. But, given that I think its a virtual certainty that the NDP will vote down the Tory budget in the end - all of your points above are moot.

Kirk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk said...

2008 election, NDP gets 37 seats.

ThreeHundredEight.com is projecting 23 seats for the NDP if an election was called now. Also, I think the NDP see an election as a real possibility this spring and makes them get serious about such a possibility.

It's not original to the NDP but it sure could be the reason, it's just NOT the something they will admit to.

DL said...

Threehundredaneight.com is not stupid enough to "project" how many votes and seats any of the parties will get at the end of a 35 day election campaign. No one can predict that. 308 is project how many seats each party would win if the results of the election were EXACTLY what the latest polls are saying - and we know that campaigns matter and the results on election day are NEVER what the polls were when the writ was dropped. As case in point would be Nov. 2005 where are all polls gave the Liberals a big lead when the government fell and the election was called. Then 8 weeks of Paul Martin's catastrophically bad campaigning caused his party to pluge about 10 points when the votes were counted.

Kirk said...

Thanks for the lesson in semantics DL. Yes, the projection is based on the current poll numbers. But you're right, the NDP could lose even more seats after a campaign ;)

Steve V said...

I honestly can't fine one non partisan observer who sees the NDP gaining seats in an election. If anything, the conventional wisdom seems to be the "squeeze is on", if you look riding by riding, I see more defence than anything. And, if you are actually paying attention, the signals from the NDP suggest they know the lay of the land, that's why they aren't exactly chomping at the bit. No, it will come down to how hard the NDP are prepared to swallow, if they think they can get enough to save face, I have no doubt they will consider propping up. It's obvious at this point...

Kirk said...

I think that you also have to consider that the NDP didn`t take a hit when they switched from opposing the 2009 budget without reading it to supporting it in return for one year of adjustments to EI benefits.

I believe they actually saw a bit of a bounce then.

I think the question for the NDP is will that happen again or will they demoralize their base or will they solidify the Liberals as the `get rid of Harper` choice by being the ones to play nice with him and if they do is the downside bigger than the upside of that.

Regardless, the Official Opposition is better off being the Official Opposition rather than the lame opposition and as long as the Liberals get themselves out of that trap they are in a better place down the road.

Steve V said...

The Libs made a serious miscalculation in fall 2009, only a year after the last election. Our numbers fell, the Cons and NDP both say a fleeting bounce, so I think the chronology is important. I also don't see that same voter sentiment now, we are now in an election window, people aren't disgusted by the mere suggestion, "making Parliament work" might sound fine, but from the Lib perspective I see nothing but upside if it's the NDP that props up these guys, for what amounts to basically a year at this point.

Tof KW said...

Steve, you just made an important point there. The Libs and NDP switched positions last fall, where the Grits finally began to vote against budget bills, and the NDP was forced to finally read them and 'make Parliament work'. Indeed the Libs took a big hit in the polls then, and the NDP and CPC numbers correspondingly went up. And both camps were laughing at Iggy for trying to force an election.

But here's the thing, it was absolutely necessary for Ignatieff and the Liberals to do this, regardless of the temporary cost in the polls. I remember posting this point back at the time.

Now over the past year they have had the freedom to act more like the official opposition, rather than as Harper's enablers. Even though the poll numbers have not rebounded back to where they were during the summer of 2009, I'm sure the Liberals feel better about their position now.

Steve V said...

If the NDP support a budget with corporate taxes included, they won't look people making Parliament work, they will look like complete hypocrites. I've already browsed the record, the Libs will have a field day, it's a treasure trove of quotes and statements, these taxes the cornerstone of their rationale to vote against last year! I know the NDP are shrewd enough to reframe, move forward, but the prospects of trampling all over your talking points the last five years, all this stuff about we need to get rid of him now, vote NDP because the Libs prop up we are the only option if you oppose Harper, bashing bank tax breaks, all this stuff just looks like complete and utter bullshit, no matter what scraps you get. You can dismiss as partisan, but man I just don't see the ultimate upside here for the NDP, they will face the electorate next year and almost impossible to see prospects better than now.

DL said...

This is all a ridiculous discussion because I think that the chances of the NDP supporting the Tory budget are close to ZERO. Stop dreaming and wake up and smell the coffee. The NDP is not going to save Ignatieff from himself. The election is ON.

Steve V said...

Wow.

Tof KW said...

Never say never DL. While I agree with you that on the surface there is no way that Layton can vote with a budget containing corp tax cuts, then why is he talking like he will be able to bring about any concessions from Harper for NDP support?

Harper has a pretty clear record of compromising in the past, just ask Joe Clark how much he moved during the initial Alliance-PC merger talks in 2000. Likewise you can ask Dion, Duceppe and Ignatieff about how much they received from the ever-generous Harper during their discussions with him.

At best, Harper will only give breadcrumbs for the NDP in this budget, so why even bother to pay lip service? For Layton to pass the nasty on to the Libs for pressing on an election? I think that's a pretty weak excuse this time around. The polls show most Canadians feel an election will happen this year and accept it, so there is little upside to be gained this time.

DL said...

I think everyone knows that this parliament is as good as dead and that there will be an election and the parties are all taking their positions around the coffin as its lowered into the ground. I think that the NDP feels that its good politics to appear reluctant to force an election. We saw what happened to the Liberals when Ignatieff did his "Mr. Harper your time is up!!" shtick in September 2008.

Steve V said...

I couldn't believe the NDP would support the budget either, in fact I dismissed it immediately, thinking it was an HST deal for the Bloc or we go to the polls. It was only when Lavigne and company started contradicting themselves, putting out a lame list of demands, that I started to ponder the impossible. I still hold, when push comes to shove, the NDP can't support these guys, but it is noteworthy that they feel the need to even try. The NDP aren't itching for an election, that seems objectively clear. Your bluster is just that, and I can't find ONE objective observer who echoes your "bring it on" sentiment.

DL said...

I think its all about giving the appearance of trying to "make parliament work" - its already pretty clear that the Tories will make no concessions. They seem to want an election too - otherwise why bother with the attack ads etc...I don't think the NDP is "drooling" for an election, but I think they figure now is as good a time as any for one - so let's go for it - rather than giving Harper another year to wreak havoc.

Steve V said...

See, I disagree, I think the Cons don't want an election at all.

Tof KW said...

I concur with Steve on that point. The CPC does not want an election - regardless of their bravado. Their latest ads, English and French, attack all three main opposition leaders personally ...not just Iggy. Remember all three will likely vote against the budget this spring. That says something. It's not just Harper being Harper. These are attack ads designed to thwart a possible election.

It will be interesting to what what happens with the next set of polls to come out. A number of CPC stalwarts appear nervous with their ads this time around.

Tof KW said...

Oops - that should read 'interesting to watch...'

Steve V said...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/with-a-dozen-mps-vulnerable-ndp-faces-defensive-campaign/article1884631/

From 308 no less!