Thursday, October 13, 2011

There Will Be Blood

The frame is already coming into focus for the NDP leadership, the establishment vs the insurgent, the traditional slant vs a new philosophical paradigm which offers electoral bliss.

This race promises to be very emotional, with Mulcair already musing about taking the NDP closer to the mainstream, ala Gary Doer, contrasted with Topp who sounds very much in line with what we are used to hearing from the federal NDP. As well, when is the last time you heard a federal NDP heavyweight preach the merits of smaller government, Mulcair is bringing provincial NDP evolution (Dexter, Doer, Calvert) to Ottawa, and it will be fascinating to see how stout the resistance, even though the faithful have embraced and celebrated the centrist move in provinces, tribal considerations trumping true political leanings. I suspect Dewar will also offer a philosophical reset, so we will see a true battle for the heart and soul of the NDP party.

I'm continually amazed by Brian Topp and the organization he has built in such sort order. It is no stretch to say he is the establishment candidate and others are quickly positioning themselves as the insurgency challenging the old world order. Dewar has placed himself as a grassroots up candidacy and Mulcair is throwing barbs that he is the unwanted irritant upsetting the pre-ordained coronation. I see plenty of blowback potential in this race, Topp does look every bit the backroom boy with powerful friends, poised to steamroll the field, a posture which tends to demand rank and file defiance. The question will be, is the abrasive Mulcair that messenger, does he enjoy that grassroots appeal to counter, or will his reforming ideas turn off those he need to take on the Topp juggernaut? Perhaps this is where Paul Dewar fits into the puzzle, time will tell.

This race is going to get nasty, make no mistake. Anybody who has watched Mulcair knows that "heated" is a given, I expect continual fireworks between his camp and Topp, the likes of which the NDP haven't seen. In fact, this race looks very Liberalesque in many respects, particularly the role of the vanguard in dictating. I'm curious to see how this notion of the "little guy" party confronts serious Topp down considerations, particularly when the perceived best challenger isn't exactly a natural fit.

This NDP leadership race will be conducted under a microscope, the big leagues demand attention never seen before, and this focus will only heighten the intrigue, the potential divisions and fault lines. I intend to follow this race very closely as well, largely putting aside my own party leanings to comment as a detached observer as I see it. Given we are still months away from picking a leader, this race has all the hallmarks of classic political struggle, all the elements are there for a fascinating affair.


CK said...

oh where to begin in this sordid mess?

For openers, as much as I like Paul Dewar, unless he's taken a crash, Berlitz course in French--and I don't mean standard Francais from Paris--I do mean Quebecois Joual--good enough to banter with Guy A Lepage of Tout le Monde en Parle, he won't connect with Quebecers. The fact remains that Dewar doesn't Parle en francais.

Sure, he may get support from members in ROC, but think of the long term, we're talking about someon who can compete with Harper for next election. While Harper and his cons don't need la belle province to get a majority, the NDP or any center-left party, for that matter, do. Let's remember that these days, the only thing progressive about Canada is French Quebec.

That said, I don't think any of the candidates, not even Mulcair, can connect with Quebecers.

Mulcair is only known inside Montreal. Ask someone up in Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, or Gaspesie-Isles de la Madeleines or somewhere around the Maine-New-Brunswick border or in the Lower North Shore, who Tom Mulcair is and odds are, I don't think most of the folks in those areas could tell you. They barely know their own MPs representing them. Mulcair did not get the Quebec vote. It was Jackmania all the way.

As for Brian Topp, well, this whole leadership thing is honestly turning into more and more of joke as I look at it. A dog and pony show and probably an expensive one at that from where I'm sitting. C'mon, Topp is the NDP's version of Michael Ignatieff. The only difference is is that Topp is in their own backyard, or should I say, backroom? The party didn't have to travel to Harvard University to up root him from his life.

Purple library guy said...

I don't really like backroom guys as candidates--at least, not straight from backroom to leadership. But Topp is by all accounts an excellent political strategist. And in many respects he seems to stand for core NDP social democratic principles. He's hardly an Ignatieff: Unlike Ignatieff he's been in the game for years; he knows the rules and he knows the issues.
The questions are on one hand does he have a gram of charisma, can he deliver on camera; and on the other, does he have principle or does he just talk a good game?
Unfortunately, the second is hard to gauge quickly.

Tof KW said...

The federal Liberals should be hoping for Topp and the old-order Dipper/union establishment to be victorious. Either Mulcair or Dewar would make excellent, formidable leaders who would shift the NDP rightward to the mainstream/centrist sweet-spot of politics. The lefty Dippers may not like it much, but that would crowd out the Libs and give the NDP a good shot at winning government in 2015.

Abandoning ideology in the name of pragmatism and power... nice to see the Dippers finally having deal with this.

Steve V said...

I agree, Topp is the Libs best option.

CuriosityCat said...

Either Topp or Mulcair would suit me although I think the NDP would be better off with someone who has charisma, can fight, can convince, and has courage. So many of our politicians are rather cowardly and it is a pleaure to see a person fighting for his or her principles.

Both Topp and Mulcair are intelligent, versed in politics, no strangers to political realities and probably both more mainstream NDP than the union-backing lefties in the party.

That said, Mulcair poses the bigger threat to the Liberal Party because he will force the NDP into the social democratic area that Tony Blair did for the New Labour (he won 3 elections, back to back - a remarkable change for a party that had been out of power for 18 years).

However, both Mulcair and Topp will also seriously consider electoral pacts and other working relationships with the Liberals in order to replace the reactionary Tories in 2015.

rockfish said...

So Topp was the guy who purchased Layton's cane? did he kind of tell him that running an election campaign and throwing away your health would pay off in votes? As to Topp being "an excellent political strategist" that has yet to be proven. We can concede that Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff were lacking in that area, but truly, the NdP's sudden burst of popularity just as much hinges on the Liberals inability to counter the Conservatives' nasty labelling job as it does anything Topp did. Unless you can produce that invoice for the cane...
And I agree, this is now very interesting. As someone who skirts the leftish side of the centre, i'm drawn to Mulcair with all his flaws. He's potentially very dynamic, if somewhat volcanic. Topp has all the earmarkings of Tony Clement...

Steve V said...

Mulcair and Dewar are the one's that are most problematic for Liberals in my view. More talk of Nash coming in the race, perhaps "coming up the middle". I don't see anything at all with Nash that looks PM in waiting, I predict she'd be dreadful. I also think the NDP are desperate to look more representative, she can fill that optical requirement, but as real leadership material, not even close.

sharonapple88 said...

Heading to the center. I could vote for that. I do find it amusing when some NDP supporters elevate Roy Romanow and Gary Doer to some holy pantheon, but at the sametime dislike people like Dalton McGuinty or even Jean Chretien. Hey, Doer conducted an open feud with Henry
Morgentaler., and to fix the budgetary mess in Saskatchewan Romanow closed 52 rural hospitals. Imagine the outcry from the NDP if a Liberal or Conservative had done something similar. I suppose it would sound something like this. (For the record, I'm pro-choice.)

I don't see anything at all with Nash that looks PM in waiting, I predict she'd be dreadful.

There was an article last week on how Nash had scored a "victory" over the Conservatives because they voted to support her motion calling on the government to act immediately to create jobs and keep Canada out of a recession. It's not binding, and it's a little vague on how the government should actually help the economy. As some sarcastic commentator said, who'd vote against something like that? It would be like asking people to vote for world peace. Who's against it? There was something Kady O'Malley wrote about supply side motions that would fit here. If the wording is so vague that the government is willing to back it, it may have been a waste of time presenting it in the first place.

Volkov, has an interesting breakdown of the support around Topp, Mulcair, and Dewar. Although it's Topp's to lose, it's hard to discount Mulcair or Dewar at this point.

Oemissions said...

Last NDP potluck and meeting I went to here in my BC riding, it was agreed that Mulcair was the best choice, even tho the fave was Nathan Cullen.
I think that the NDP will pull together as a TEAM and respect the people's choice, as has been shown in the provincial leader selection

Steve V said...

That's interesting, because I noted Capstick yesterday said Mulcair seems to be everyone's second choice, those supporting others. That sentiment could prove very important.

CraigB said...

Backroom boy trying to make it as a retail politician...

...anybody else uncomfortably reminded of Rocco Rossi?