Sunday, March 25, 2012

The New New Democratic Party

For the first time since 1960, the New Democratic Party is really new.

And when I say “new” I mean “different.’

In electing the fiery Thomas Mulcair their leader, the New Democrats dramatically changed the nature of their party.

They have gone from Tommy Douglas, a populist socialist, to Ed Broadbent, an intellectual socialist, to Jack Layton, an urban socialist to Mulcair, a tough, politically savvy, ambitious, street fighter.

See the difference?

The stodgy, class warfare, Solidarity Forever, NDP is gone forever, relegated to the dustbin of history. From now on the New Democrats are less about fomenting socialist revolution and more about winning votes. It has gone from an ideological party to a “We want to be in power party”.

You could sense the change at the party’s leadership convention. Previous NDP conventions were always one part union hall meeting, one part religious revival and one part hippie festival. By contrast, this convention was all politics, all business. It was essentially a generic political convention, except with orange signs.

And uppermost on the minds of NDP voters was one question. And it wasn't who can best promote a union boss agenda, it was who offers the best chance of  beating Prime Minister Stephen Harper?

On paper at least, the answer was Mulcair. It didn’t matter that he was a newcomer to the party, it didn’t matter that party elder statesman Ed Broadbent had denounced him, it didn’t matter that he wanted to dilute socialist principles – all that mattered was Mulcair matched up best against Harper.

For one thing, Mulcair had the best chance of holding onto the party’s newly won bastion in Quebec, for another he might appeal to non-traditional NDP voters, and for another he could take on Harper in a gutter fight. In short, cold political calculations won out over ideology.

Congratulations NDP, you have now attained the rank of a serious, mainstream political contender.

And all it cost you was your soul.

1 comment:

Gordie Canuk said...

Gerry, in fairness...did not the Conservatives sell their souls to maintain power by bowing to opposition demands to stimulate the economy? That gave us the Coalition Action plan that has helped Canada avoid serious recession depression for the time being.

All it took was a couple of suspensions of our democracy and the very real possibility that Mr. Harper would have lost the keys to the PMO.

Of course we'll find out soon enough if the cure was worse than the disease. I mean if you're going to implement massive stiumlus spending (Keysian not Conservative) then its ludicrous to cut the revenue streams that would help pay for it (eg GST).

We've racked up a massive debt, and now its time to see some real cuts, an end to corporate welfare and hopefully the balanced/surplus budgets of the Chretien/Martin years.