Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Ranking NDP Candidates: Liberal Prospects Edition

To my mind, the NDP have a terrific opportunity with this leadership contest, if they get it right, Liberals have much to worry about. On the other hand, choosing the wrong person could provide the political space required for a Liberal resurgence. Most Liberals will admit, our destiny isn't entirely within our control, external forces will play a role, that's a fair representation. Putting on the partisan hat for a moment, a quick ranking of who I think would be the best NDP leader from a Liberal perspective, with the chief factor being an ability to reinvent the brand somewhat, appeal to voters the NDP MUST capture if they truly can takeout the Conservatives:

1 Brian Topp

Topp looks every bit a "in the pocket" NDP candidate, planting the flag on traditional ground, having a background which feeds the historical political spectrum bent. To my mind, any indication that the NDP will stay true to their core ideals is a net negative on the replacing Harper front. Not a matter of agreeing or disagree, but there is nothing about Topp that suggests an NDP ready to embrace a more mainstream viewpoint, which translates to limited appeal. Factor in that Topp is a wildcard on the voter resonance front- backroom acument not necessarily translating to electoral juggernaut- and he represents a potential risky choice, which is appealing from the Liberal perspective.

2 Peggy Nash

I would actually put Nash first, except she is a proven campaigner, we've seen her on the trail, we know her strengths and weaknesses. There is much appeal with Nash, today I read about Thatcher comparisons, she is clearly a force. However, as with Topp, Nash is almost an old guard dipper philosophically, there is plenty of potential attack ad fodder, she can easily be framed and would seem to lack the "rethink" variable necessary for the NDP to move to true threat nationally. As well, I find Nash terribly bland, perhaps effective, but little to suggest she can recreate that Layton "magic", fairly low on the charisma quotient. A "from the left" NDP leader, with a "steely" character, sign me up if I'm a Liberal.

3 Paul Dewar

Dewar screams moderate, his tone is friendly, his disposition warm and disarming. If you want to put a new face on a growing party, Dewar fits the bill in many regards. His French is a drawback, but assuming he grows on that front, he is the type that might just have the common touch necessary to reintroduce the NDP brand. If I'm a handler, Dewar is the kind of politician would could be sold as a modern New Democrat, one that could move the party to a place where it could siphon off more Liberal votes and truly threaten the Conservatives. Dewar makes me nervous as a Liberal.

4 Thomas Mulcair

Mulcair has baggage, and his personality could take him either way electorally, but he is SPOT ON with his message, the conversation he is pushing is the right recipe for electoral bliss. The trouble with Mulcair to date, he isn't pandering to the base necessarily, he's providing the straight goods for general election success, a stance which hurts his chances for leadership. However, Mulcair understands that the key to future NDP prospects is economic credibility, shedding the old assumptions about the NDP and presenting a fiscal alternative that is modern in approach. Mulcair walks over Liberal ground, for this reason, he represents the biggest threat should he win the nomination. Let's hope Dippers can't see the "big picture" arguments he is selling, because in many regards that is the necessary template to squeeze the Liberals.

Apologizes to the other candidates, but these are the big four in my estimation. As well, not naive enough to think a leadership campaign necessarily translates to wider election messaging, very pragmatic on that front.


ricky said...

I agree with you these are the top four. There is however a feeling that the NDP's message is not broad enough in your post and that they need to broaden it. I see all of the current leaders here having a Saskatchewan and Manitoba bent to governing.

That is what I would expect from any of them and soon people will see that. During the leadership race we will see them more on the left.

Come March 24, the NDP will appear more to the center. That much is certain.

Being center however does not mean ditching your values. Its about priorities and after four years of Harper, I think Canadians will be looking for a friendlier face in government.

Im still deciding which way to go. Peter Julian was my choice but he's not running. In the end I think any of them will be able to toss Harper out.

Once the race is done, watch out in Parliament. Harper won't know what hit him.

Steve V said...

"Being center however does not mean ditching your values."

No it doesn't, but when you have people with well established track records, you can't just move to that space without your opponents tattooing you. NDP doesn't operate in isolation on this score, and I'd "watch out" once the dust settles and people train their gaze.

DL said...

I agree that Topp's drawback is lack of electoral experience but I don't see anything in his background that makes him "out of the mainstream" or "old Labour" (I'm not sure what the NDP equivalent terminology of "old Labour" would be). His chronology is as follows:

*Started out with a typesetting and printing business (big deal - hell he can even claim to have experience as a small businessman in the private sector)
*Staffer on Parliament Hill (just about everyone has done that at some point in their political life including PMSH)
*Deputy Chief of Staff to Roy Romanow (all that tells anyone is that he was at the core of government regarded as very moderate and fiscally responsible)
*some high position with the Credit Union Central of Canada (is that a problem? usually people who have had major roles with financial institutions are viewed as pretty pragmatic and competent - not that its always justified)
*OK so he is now Director of ACTRA Toronto, but if you really want to go on some anti-union attack - a union that represents artists and actors and writers does not exactly conjur up "On the Waterfront". Gary Doer used to head the Manitoba Government Employees Union - look where he is now!

Anyways, I'm not saying this to support Topp - I am undecided. But I think that to the extent that he would create any opportunity for the Liberals - it is more the chance that he lacks charisma than anything about his personal narrative.

JimmE said...

Ms Nash would top my list, but whatever. It will take more than giving the keys to Stornoway to one of these trolls to make much of difference & turn things around for my LPC.

DL said...

I think Mulcair could be the most formidable new NDP leader and could take the country by storm. But he is also the one with the greatest chance of self-destructing and being a disaster!