Should the federal NDP dissolve itself, so that a better Left party can take its place?

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Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture
Should the federal NDP dissolve itself, so that a better Left party can take its place?

It's becoming an increasingly pressing question. 

As currently constituted, on the watered-down-to-nothing platform and policy book the seemingly unremovable party bureaucracy insists on imposing on the party, the federal NDP represents no one, fights for no one, and is stuck at a useless 15%-17% support base in the polls.  After the 2019 election, it will likely have no seats in Quebec again-a fact which by itself guarantees that the party can't significantly increase its support in the 2023 election-and it will lose many of the seats it currently holds.  It could fall as low as 15 seats nationally.  

Given that this is the case, given that there is next to nothing that can happen between now and the next federal election that could possibly prevent the humiliating outcome I predict above...what is the point of continuing the party in its current form, keeping it in its current space on the political spectrum, just barely to the left of the Liberals if indeed it is to the left of the Liberals at all, indistinguishable from the Liberals and the Conservatives on foreign and military policy, indifferent to the struggles of working people, dismissive of the need to make an aggressive fight against poverty and environmental despoilation, totally submissive to capital on economic issues...why even bother keeping this party alive?  Why try to persuade anyone to vote for it?  Why imagine the NDP, as it is at the moment, as any real reason to exist at all anymore?

Why not just dissolve it and, in its place, build a different party...

A party that actually REJECTS the austerity consensus and balanced budget fetishism.

A party that fights for working people, which means fighting to revive and GROW the labour movement.

A party that fights for the poor, and utterly rejects the lie that poverty is caused by "bad choices", and points out instead that poverty is caused by capitalism, a system which needs poverty and unemployment to "discipline the workforce".

A party that sees war, in the 21st Century, for what it is...a purely reactionary program of organized slaughter that serves no one anymore but the wealth and which cannot free anyone or improve the lives of anyone anywhere.

A party that recognizes that the way things are is not the way things have to be, that we don't have to accept the limits on possibility imposed by the wealthy, and which realizes that nothing progressive or transformative can be done by working within those limits.

Why not just start over again and start speaking truth again?

The NDP is a party doomed to a slow death.  It's hard to imagine that anything could save it, that anything could make it relevant again.  It's time to build a party of a LIVING Left, of a left that believes another world IS possible, that we CAN win the argument on the major issues of the day and that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from actually trying to do so.

What else is there do to, but to try something new?

 

 

JeffWells

Yes. This is the question everyone left of the Liberal Party should be asking.

I didn't come to this conclusion readily. I've been a New Democrat since I was a kid. While acknowledging its disappointments and limitations I'd always defended it, volunteered, donated. And I can't bring myself to do that anymore. 

If there were a Corbyn in the party, a dissident around whom a radical transformation could crystallize, then maybe the NDP would still be a worthy project, but there just isn't. There are prominent leftists, like Ashton, but after failed challenges to the torpor of play-it-safe centrism they've fallen back in line. 

The NDP's timidity and retreat from relevance looks especially awful right now in context of the rise of Quebec solidaire. The Canadian left needs a new vehicle, and it needs to look more like QS than the NDP.

"It's clear in the rest of Canada there are an enormous number of progressives," she said. "In the movement for people's rights, the union movement, the environmental movement ... people who want to ensure a better life for everyone. I think there is space for a Quebec solidaire outside Quebec."

https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/09/30/news/possibly-coming-provinc...

Unionist

I agree with everything Ken and Jeff said. But I don't think platform items and personalities are enough. And I've grown skeptical about parties and electoral politics in general over many years, though I do recognize they may be necessary evils.

What we need in addition to progressive "positions" are IMHO three things: 1) a united front of real live mass movements that come together to build this party and remain as its foundation; 2) a solid commitment to internal democracy; 3) no leaders, no dictators, no individual decision makers.

If we can commit to that - I'm listening.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..what unionist said!

R.E.Wood

I agree with Ken and Jeff. The NDP is steering directly toward an iceberg. Irrelevance is already here, but disaster is coming. 

I don't think anything will convince the powers that be in the NDP to dissolve the party. The only way a new party of the left will happen is if it rises up itself, and in that process displaces the NDP as the choice of progressive/left voters.

Regarding Unionist's point #3, I wonder if there are any parties anywhere in the world that operate without a leader? It's an interesting thought experiment, but I doubt its practicality. If there are other working examples that can be pointed to I'd be interested to see them.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..this is from the corbyn thread

A Future in Common

On Monday night Jacobin hosted a rally at The World Transformed conference in Liverpool, addressed by France Insoumise’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon. The event took place alongside the Labour Party conference, at which the French radical-left leader also met with Jeremy Corbyn.

In an enthusiastically received speech, Mélenchon called for new forms of mobilization able to confront the challenges of environmental disaster, war, and the neoliberal destruction of democracy. Here we present a lightly abridged translation of his talk.

quote:

The first is obviously the possible destruction of the only ecosystem that makes human life possible. If we acknowledge that this is a real threat, then we must admit that there is a general human interest. And if this common interest exists, it must be placed above all other interests that may compromise it. This common interest is profoundly anticapitalist. For capitalism is based on the dynamics of endless predation without repair. It is based on a short-termism which is incompatible with the cycles of nature itself. From this observation we deduce two structural demands.

The first of these is “the green rule“: do not take from nature more than what nature can replenish. We must, with all our strength, delay the date at which we will be in ecological debt to our planet.

The second is ecological planning: the collective organization of processes so that we can transform all the forms of production, trade, and consumption patterns in compliance with the “green rule.”

The second element I would like to present is the form of political organization which corresponds to “the peoples’ era.” We put in place such a form of organization during my presidential campaign in France. And since then it has become what I think we can call by far the largest activist organization in France. We have 420,000 people registered on our online platform and 54,000 active members in 5,000 action groups connected by this platform. Everyone is free to decide the nature and the extent of their commitment to the movement and can change that at any time. We are not a classical political party that leads society, but rather a movement that is itself part of the life of society and totally porous to engagement with society.

The movement is to the people what the party once was to a social class. But it is neither a vanguard or a leadership. Rather, it sheds light on possible paths open to the people and is a detonator that helps people take action on the ground. The movement exists for this objective, and this alone.

Our movement, France Insoumise (often translated as France Unbowed — insoumise literally means “unsubmissive”) is an object in constant evolution. It is a common banner and includes party activists who want to participate, the only condition being that they abide by the movement’s own rules. But the vast majority of participants have no party membership. The movement is inclusive. There are no internal power struggles. Often, we choose decision-makers by lot, by random selection.

swallow

R.E.Wood wrote:

Regarding Unionist's point #3, I wonder if there are any parties anywhere in the world that operate without a leader? It's an interesting thought experiment, but I doubt its practicality. If there are other working examples that can be pointed to I'd be interested to see them.

Apart from the obvious example of Quebec Solidaire, there is the DiEM25 party in Europe - and in a federal Europe, that's maybe the equivalent of a national party in Canada. 

Would a provincial version of QS in other provinces perhaps be a better place to start? Or have the Greens already filled that gap in some provinces? Lord knows provincial NDP wings might as well call themselves the Never-failt to Disappoint Party. 

Let's not throw out the important work fdone by many current NDP MP's - Romeo Saganash and Charlie Angus on Indigenous rights, for instance. If there was no NDP in the federal parliament, that file would be ignored and left to do-nothing feel-good rhetoric from Trudeau and Bennett and to apologists like Falcon Oullet. 

QS lesson: local, community groudned, relevant hard work sustained over a long period of time will build parties that slowly grow and start to win, better than grand manifestos will. Grassroots leadership works better than a personaility to organize around (remember: Svend Robinson and the New Politics Initaitve that in many ways inspired the creation of this web site). SQ unlike the personaility vehicles are sustainable and member-driven. Be relevant, stick around, hammer on, take your lead from communities, and for many, expect to run in 3 or 4 elections before having a chance to win. That to me is what QS did in Sherbrooke for instance, where Christine Labrie says she was "prise par surprise" by the margin of her win on Monday, but where she actually built on years of QS and Sherbrooke Citoyen (based on Projet Montreal model) and forerunners' organizing using models developed in Montreal campaigning and a strong base in the Sherbrooke community. And the support, let's admit, of many local federal NDP campaigners, who I think may well mamange to re-elect Pierre-Luc Dusseault federally in 2019. 

Unionist

What swallow said. And epaulo.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I don't think anything will convince the powers that be in the NDP to dissolve the party. The only way a new party of the left will happen is if it rises up itself, and in that process displaces the NDP as the choice of progressive/left voters.

Agreed.  It's not clear why the NDP would commit seppuku.

If the NDP doesn't believe it's following the wrong path, why would it dissolve itself?

If the NDP does believe it's following the wrong path, why wouldn't it just choose to follow what it thinks to be the right one?

I feel like this suggestion is less about the new party that would presumably arise to "fill the void" and more about the NDP wearing sackcloth. 

At the very least, shouldn't this new Saviour Party already exist before the NDP flicks off the lights?  Otherwise, a lot of voters are either going to just go Liberal or just go Green, or maybe even just stay home.  But importantly, the NDP will have nobly taken its own life, and shown us all how truly sorry it is.

Martin N.

The Better Left Party is an excellent idea. A home for leftists, a magnet for that portion of the populace that subscribes to its policies and a counter to the Max Party.

I am reminded of Oscar Wild: "A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing".

Perhaps smaller, more focused parties will reduce the number of cynics, cynics who can't abide the deceit and self-interest of the political spectrum at present.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

R.E.Wood wrote:

I agree with Ken and Jeff. The NDP is steering directly toward an iceberg. Irrelevance is already here, but disaster is coming. 

I don't think anything will convince the powers that be in the NDP to dissolve the party. The only way a new party of the left will happen is if it rises up itself, and in that process displaces the NDP as the choice of progressive/left voters.

Regarding Unionist's point #3, I wonder if there are any parties anywhere in the world that operate without a leader? It's an interesting thought experiment, but I doubt its practicality. If there are other working examples that can be pointed to I'd be interested to see them.

The German Greens did that for many years, and QS has largely done that-is Manon Masse now considered the "leader"?  

Agreed also with what Unionist added.  Platforms and party leaders are never enough.  First must come a "culture of resistance", as my long-time U.S. activist friend Albert Petrarca describes it, followed by what I'd call a culture of transformation.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
I don't think anything will convince the powers that be in the NDP to dissolve the party. The only way a new party of the left will happen is if it rises up itself, and in that process displaces the NDP as the choice of progressive/left voters.

Agreed.  It's not clear why the NDP would commit seppuku.

If the NDP doesn't believe it's following the wrong path, why would it dissolve itself?

If the NDP does believe it's following the wrong path, why wouldn't it just choose to follow what it thinks to be the right one?

I feel like this suggestion is less about the new party that would presumably arise to "fill the void" and more about the NDP wearing sackcloth. 

At the very least, shouldn't this new Saviour Party already exist before the NDP flicks off the lights?  Otherwise, a lot of voters are either going to just go Liberal or just go Green, or maybe even just stay home.  But importantly, the NDP will have nobly taken its own life, and shown us all how truly sorry it is.

Thank you for your typical dismissive condescension.  

The leadership will not move to dissolve the party itself, obviously.  It will need to be pushed to do so.  Not sure why you would belabor the phraseology I used in the thread title when it's not the point.

Obviously the party leadership doesn't THINK it's doing anything wrong-if it did, it would do something else.  Let me ask you this...stuck at 17% in the polls, doomed to a wipeout in Quebec-a wipeout which would make it impossible to persuade any new voters anywhere else to START voting NDP, because nobody who hasn't voted for a party in the past is going to start doing so if they know that party can only lose ground in the election where that new voter will start voting-without ideas, without core values, without a vision of life any different from the way it is now, without enthusiastic participation from much of anyone, what case can you make, my dear Magoo, for the federal NDP to continue to exist?  Is there any reason to have a second, smaller center party when there's already a larger, just-barely-different center party holding power?

You mock the idea of the NDP leadership feeling any discomfort about the party's current situation...but why shouldn't they?  Nothing is working at all in the party, nothing is good at all in the party.  And there's no believable prospect for anything getting better between now and the election within the NDP.  Why perpetuate what you know as well as the rest of us is NOT working? 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Thanks for the Oscar Wilde quote, btw, Martin.  That's the quote Bobby Kennedy reworked, during his presidential campaign, into a brilliant observation about the concept of a Gross National Product.

Unionist

Ken Burch wrote:

R.E.Wood wrote:

[...]

Regarding Unionist's point #3, I wonder if there are any parties anywhere in the world that operate without a leader? It's an interesting thought experiment, but I doubt its practicality. If there are other working examples that can be pointed to I'd be interested to see them.

The German Greens did that for many years, and QS has largely done that-is Manon Masse now considered the "leader"? 

NO - QS has no "leader". Manon Massé is not the "leader". There is no "leader". It's very difficult, isn't it, to overcome that notion.

Quote:
Agreed also with what Unionist added.  Platforms and party leaders are never enough.  First must come a "culture of resistance", as my long-time U.S. activist friend Albert Petrarca describes it, followed by what I'd call a culture of transformation.

I like that. I'll gladly add the "culture" thing to my requirements. Although culture can only arise from people in action and motion. So I would still insist that any new electoral vehicle (if that's what this thread is talking about) must be rooted in real live movements. 

Martin N.

Yeah well forgetting the 'e' in Wilde makes me consider revisiting the actual quotes rather than pulling them out of the back of my turnip. The Kennedy connection is intriguing.

If a leftist party did arrive on the scene that was a stand up outfit, I'd probably vote for them. The Max Party is a whole lot of Max but not much else and basically violates the ' no leader' requirement. Plus, I cant get over the banging-the-biker-chick incident, not for its own self but because the fool left his briefing papers behind.

The current parties are all Marxists. They subscribe to the Marxist philosophy: "I have principles but if you dont like them, I have others".

Thats Groucho, not Karl.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Unionist wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

R.E.Wood wrote:

[...]

Regarding Unionist's point #3, I wonder if there are any parties anywhere in the world that operate without a leader? It's an interesting thought experiment, but I doubt its practicality. If there are other working examples that can be pointed to I'd be interested to see them.

The German Greens did that for many years, and QS has largely done that-is Manon Masse now considered the "leader"? 

NO - QS has no "leader". Manon Massé is not the "leader". There is no "leader". It's very difficult, isn't it, to overcome that notion.

Quote:
Agreed also with what Unionist added.  Platforms and party leaders are never enough.  First must come a "culture of resistance", as my long-time U.S. activist friend Albert Petrarca describes it, followed by what I'd call a culture of transformation.

I like that. I'll gladly add the "culture" thing to my requirements. Although culture can only arise from people in action and motion. So I would still insist that any new electoral vehicle (if that's what this thread is talking about) must be rooted in real live movements. 

Agreed on that.  And thanks for the clarification of Manon Masse's role-the MSM have treated her as "the leader" in this election cycle, and that's what prompted my confusion.  Did QS win your riding, btw?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Martin N. wrote:

Yeah well forgetting the 'e' in Wilde makes me consider revisiting the actual quotes rather than pulling them out of the back of my turnip. The Kennedy connection is intriguing.

If a leftist party did arrive on the scene that was a stand up outfit, I'd probably vote for them. The Max Party is a whole lot of Max but not much else and basically violates the ' no leader' requirement. Plus, I cant get over the banging-the-biker-chick incident, not for its own self but because the fool left his briefing papers behind.

The current parties are all Marxists. They subscribe to the Marxist philosophy: "I have principles but if you dont like them, I have others".

Thats Groucho, not Karl.

The RFK quote can be heard in the speech he gave at the University of Kansas, early in the '68 campaign.  It got a big, enthusiastic response, in a heavily conservative state that would vote for Nixon by a solid margin in the election held after Bobby's assassination and the rigged Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Unionist

Ken Burch wrote:
And thanks for the clarification of Manon Masse's role-the MSM have treated her as "the leader" in this election cycle, and that's what prompted my confusion.  Did QS win your riding, btw?

You wouldn't believe the maniacal attack by Jean-François Lisée, in the dying days of the campaign, who claimed he had found the "true leader" of QS! Please remind me to tell you that story later. It certainly helped discredit him as the McCarthyite misogynist creep that he is, and contributed to his well-deserved crash and burn.

Sadly no, QS didn't win my riding (I've moved in recent years). Saving grace: QS got 10% more popular vote than the Liberal candidate. I'll take anything I can get!

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Thank you for your typical dismissive condescension.  

I'm not being "condescending" to anyone Ken, please quit taking a dive like this is soccer.

Quote:
It will need to be pushed to do so.

By who??

Anyone urging the NDP to vanish is, by definition, not a supporter of the NDP.  Why should the NDP disband because non-supporters wish it would?  Conversely, as long as there are still some supporters, why would the NDP abandon them?

Quote:
what case can you make, my dear Magoo, for the federal NDP to continue to exist?

Seriously?  After you just finished chastising me for being "condescending"?

Quote:
You mock the idea of the NDP leadership feeling any discomfort about the party's current situation...but why shouldn't they?

As I literally said, if they feel they're on the wrong path, why wouldn't they CHANGE instead of throwing in the towel?

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Thank you for your typical dismissive condescension.  

I'm not being "condescending" to anyone Ken, please quit taking a dive like this is soccer.

Quote:
It will need to be pushed to do so.

By who??

Anyone urging the NDP to vanish is, by definition, not a supporter of the NDP.  Why should the NDP disband because non-supporters wish it would?  Conversely, as long as there are still some supporters, why would the NDP abandon them?

Quote:
what case can you make, my dear Magoo, for the federal NDP to continue to exist?

Seriously?  After you just finished chastising me for being "condescending"?

Quote:
You mock the idea of the NDP leadership feeling any discomfort about the party's current situation...but why shouldn't they?

As I literally said, if they feel they're on the wrong path, why wouldn't they CHANGE instead of throwing in the towel?

 

OK, fine, I could probably have avoided the "my dear Magoo".  Whatever.

Obviously the leaders don't feel there's anything wrong, or don't care.  It appears that, as long as there are enough funds to pay for the upkeep of party HQ, they aren't interested in change, and they don't care whether the existing NDP caucus is re-elected, let alone about gaining seats anywhere or having any meaningful influence on what happens.  

And I think it may actually BE the supporters of the NDP who end up either pushing the party to disband, OR finding some way to force it to finally change, to finally get out of this pointless fixation with "respectability" and "the center".  Given that the Liberals own "the center" and always will own it, isn't it intrinsically futile to TRY and take "the center"?

Perhaps it might take the threat that no one will go out and work to elect NDP candidates-despite what the party bureaucracy thinks, seats are won or lost on the degree of enthusiasm, the willingness to work, that the party inspires in the rank-and-file.  

I'll ask again, Magoo...given that the party is going to remain in this useless, hopeless 15%-17% dead zone of support, given that it no longer has any real core values, given that it no longer fights for anyone or anything, can you make a case for continuing the NDP in its current form?

Whatever the leaders think-and it is no clear that the leaders don't care about anyone that the party is supposedly here to represent-what good is there in continuing like this, continuing on a road to nowhere?  Why shouldn't everyone who cares about what the party USED to be about join forces to make the leaders see that staying the course serves no purpose?  

Why not, instead, start over and build a REAL party of change, a party that works for a truly different society?  Aren't the NDP's poll ratings, which have been stuck where they are for years and are simply not ever going to improve, proof positive that the status quo in the party isn't worth preserving?

If you are loyal to that status quo, what exactly are you loyal TO?  The party no longer fights for you and those around you in any meaningful way, no longer connects to anyone's actual needs in society and life.  Why not just push to bring it to an end and build something else?  NDP supporters aren't supported BY the NDP anymore.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I'll ask again, Magoo...given that the party is going to remain in this useless, hopeless 15%-17% dead zone of support, given that it no longer has any real core values, given that it no longer fights for anyone or anything, can you make a case for continuing the NDP in its current form?

Only those 15-17% of voters (who, I would assume, do not agree that the party needs to go).  Other parties stick around for fewer.

Quote:
Why not, instead, start over and build a REAL party of change, a party that works for a truly different society?

Like I said, start such a party.  Not you, personally, but everyone who's sick of the NDP and would like a different party to support.  But don't wait for the NDP to fall on their collective sword first.

Heck, maybe lots of (former) NDP supporters switching jersies would be exactly the thing to get the NDP to throw in the towel.  It's got to be more persuasive than "We, the undersigned, call on the NDP to dissolve itself so we can get on with changing politics."

 

Martin N.

New parties flourish by means of funding, the same way that stale-dated parties die by lack thereof.

In my opinion, when a younger, technologically competent generation wrests power from the old white guys pretending to be feminists there will be new ways of doing the business of governing including elections.

I cant understand why Canadians are such a weak and ill-informed lot, willing to let the usual suspects make a complete mockery of respect for taxpayer funds. What will it take for the dolts to wake up and take their country back? Principled parties for a start.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
I'll ask again, Magoo...given that the party is going to remain in this useless, hopeless 15%-17% dead zone of support, given that it no longer has any real core values, given that it no longer fights for anyone or anything, can you make a case for continuing the NDP in its current form?

Only those 15-17% of voters (who, I would assume, do not agree that the party needs to go).  Other parties stick around for fewer.

Quote:
Why not, instead, start over and build a REAL party of change, a party that works for a truly different society?

Like I said, start such a party.  Not you, personally, but everyone who's sick of the NDP and would like a different party to support.  But don't wait for the NDP to fall on their collective sword first.

Heck, maybe lots of (former) NDP supporters switching jersies would be exactly the thing to get the NDP to throw in the towel.  It's got to be more persuasive than "We, the undersigned, call on the NDP to dissolve itself so we can get on with changing politics."

 

The thread title was a rhetorical question, meant to stimulate discussion.  The 15%-17% who still stay with the NDP do so mainly because, at the moment, there's nowhere else for them TO go.  They've been unable to change anything within the party because of the death grip the party bureaucracy has on party governance, policy, and platform.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

I would love to see a more QS type party emerge, either at the national or provincial level (my home province is BC).

The provincial level here in BC has greater prospects for the emergence of a QS type party at the moment. The provincial government is holding another referendum on proportional representation, this one by mail-in ballot, with ballots being mailed out later this month. If the referendum passes and we get proportional representation, opportunities to create a QS type party will increase.

Unfortunately, the BC NDP government has not been doing nearly enough to promote the referendum -- they wouldn't dare engage in the kinds of activist rallies and street theatre that could give it publicity -- and the corporate media has been completely ignoring it. Not to mention that much of the activist left that would form a natural support base for the Yes side in the referendum has been preoccupied with the upcoming municipal elections on October 20 -- working to elect candidates who will actually do something to alleviate the serious housing crisis in the Metro Vancouver part of the province.

Pondering

Isn't 15 to 17% support typical for the NDP? 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

It's essentially the historic level of support for the party no matter what, and that is the crisis.  The only argument for the obsession with "moderation" and "respectability" and the essentially abolition of internal democracy is that that's the way to grow the party.  If the only votes the party is getting are those it would be getting no matter what, even if it was still running on The Regina Manifesto or if it had adopted the Waffle program, it's a sign of crisis.  

It also, as a lot of people see it, is a marker that the party leadership cadre(and in this context, I'm talking about the insiders in the bureaucracy that always seem to end up controlling the party no matter what), not only has no real core values, but is not interested in seeing the party they control gain any ground, is not interested in anything changing at all.  

The point of a party like the NDP, whatever its specific place on the spectrum, is to try to win the argument.  In winning the argument, you win over the voters.  As the fate of every social democratic party on the European mainland has taught us, giving up on winning the argument not only doesn't win additional voters to the parties who give up on trying to win the argument, it causes a continual slow decline in the votes those parties hold onto-mainly to parties to the left of the social democratic parties in Europe, where pr makes additional choices possible-although sometimes also to the far right when the far right is able to make a convincing pretense of fighting for working-class voters as neoliberalised social democratic parties have given up doing, and in some situations where the far right parties, for some weird reason, were the ONLY parties standing who actually defended the concept of the social welfare state and the only ones pledged not to cut benefits-and to apathy and the abandonment of politics in countries like the U.S., the UK and Canada whose electoral systems are rigged against the creation of newer parties.

It is a crisis that NDP support has largely been stagnant since Mulcair took over as leader-the short lived lead he had the party in in the summer of 2015 was solely due to Mulcair's opposition to C-51, the only passionate, principled stance Mulcair took on any issue throughout his leadership, and he immediately lost the lead when he appeased Bay Street in the economics debate by centering a balanced budget, a stance which convinced the voters he would maintain Harper-style austerity as prime minister-and it does not appear that anyone at party headquarters recognizes the crisis or cares that it exists.  Furthermore, it looks as though many if not most of those at party HQ don't particularly care if the party loses every seat in Quebec and becomes nothing but the party of bits of B.C. and bits of the Prairies, with maybe 1 or 2 seats in Ontario.  It would be one thing, it might even be admirable, if the NDP were in this dead zone because it had taken heroic, controversial stands on the issues of the day-but it is in this situation not due to courage, but solely due to inertia and complacency.   The most charitable interpretation of this is that the party's "brain trust" has so deeply bought into the "end of history" lie from the Nineties that it doesn't think it's possible for the party to connect with people by offering any vision of change-the least charitable is that, so long as they have the office to drink lattes in and play Laptop Solitaire act, they'd be perfectly content with seeing the party of Woodsworth, Douglas, Lewis, Broadbent and Layton vanish from electoral representation.

Pondering

In my opinion think-tanks and activists  win arguments not political parties almost all the time if not all the time. Political parties, especially in Canada, try to convince voters they are in the centre because that is the only type of party that can win if we are using labels which we should try to lose (in my opinion). Voters on the left and right are difficult to sway. It's it's the ones in the middle, the moderates, that all parties in Canada must convince if they want to win an election as opposed to gain a platform to promote leftism or whatever the party follows ideologically. 

The NDP didn't just go too far to the centre they dumped all principle to win not just unpopular points. The right doesn't try to convert anyone. They win elections then do exactly as they please regardless of what they said. The Liberals do the same. Some platform promises are kept but not all and much more is done that voters were not told about. 

In my opinion that is what the left political party has to do. Focus as narrowly as possible to win elections then go ahead and pass progressive legislation that you didn't talk about during the election period. I was going to say, just do stuff you didn't mention in the platform, but you can actually do the opposite of your platform and still win another election.

Keep principles in mind when designing a platform but focus on what voters want not what the party wants. What the party wants can be in the party's mission statement or whatever. No need to put it in the platform.

Avoid foreign policy if at all possible. More likely to lose you votes than gain them.  As soon as you are in power something is bound to happen to let you take whatever position you want. There is no need to condemn Israel before being elected. Get elected. Start condemning Israel's atrocities as they happen. Then change foreign policy once the public is with you. 

Choose a topic and know it inside out. Study best practices around the world in education then start hammering incumbants on it. Best practices don't necessarily cost more money to deliver. 

P3s. Know the numbers. Show voters how we are being shafted. 

Phase out fossil fuel subsidies. It's really easy to defend.

Give concrete plans for dramatically greater transparency which would be difficult to roll back. 

As a voter I am hiring a management team to run the country/province for 4 years. I want to know what can be delivered within that time frame. 

Everything else is a distraction. 

The first question every voter asks is if the party can be trusted with the economy. If yes they look at the next issue or their general impression of the leader, who they like best which really means who they think will make the decisions they would most agree with. 

Analyze elections from that perspective. In 2015 Harper started out in first place because he was must trusted with the economy. It was still a change election so the other parties had a serious chance. The NDP started looking pretty good but then Trudeau did well in the debate so started getting a serious look. Then the budgets came out. Trudeau's was praised and the NDP's was criticized. Even if it were possible for Mulcair to deliver on all of his promises while balancing the budget nobody would ever believe it. 

Pondering

No doubt that in 2015 the NDP should have gone Corbyn or Sanders style. I think that Layton would have turned left but it was not to be. It is almost inevidable that Trudeau will get a second term. Best the NDP can do is focus on ways in which Trudeau is failing economically. Start stacking up a hisory for 2023. 

That moving to the centre didn't deliver the hoped for win doesn't mean swinging all the way in the other direction will deliver electoral resuts. Every election campaign is unique in the opponents and the lay of the land. 

I don't expect Singh to be as successful as Trudeau has been but I do believe that the platform will have some important progressive proposals. This is exactly what everyone was lamenting about Trudeau a year before the election. He has no policy and no presence on the public stage everyone was saying. At that time posters were convinced the truth was sinking in and Trudeau was done for. The NDP was on the rise and it was going to stay that way because Trudeau was so useless. 

I can almost guarantee that the Singh will have a platform to be judged. Maybe it will be dreadful but I think it's too soon to say. 

JeffWells

The party and its membership made a bit of a devil's bargain under Layton. It was, we're going to make a serious bid for power, but to do that we're going to need to "modernize." Well, we know what that meant. And then, with Mulcair, we doubled down.  All in!

Anyway, that didn't work.

But here's the NDP now, still on the same tepid trajectory under Singh, but without any prospect of victory, broke, and looking at potential disastor.

The New Politics Initiative was the right idea then, and IMO it's too late for it now.

Pondering

Does it have to be one extreme or the other? The right did not win by sharing their plans ahead of time and convincing voters that the right was ideologically moral therefore should be elected. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

This doesn't have to be about the discussion you and I used to have about detail and policy.  It doesn't have to be about specificity.  But there does need to be a clear sense of whose side you are on, who you will fight for, who you will listen to,  what world you want.  There does need to be a rejection of the idea that life has to be THIS way.  If not that...what you have is a group of people with no purpose, an organization which has no reason to exist, playing no role in anything.  People who want things kept as they are are never going to vote for any party other than the original parties committed to keeping things as they are.

SeekingAPolitic...

I am sure their a word that describes the following scenario, the bais of locally and nationally environment and assumpition that things are silimar around the globe.  This bais politically very dangerous for the left in canada.  Here people make that assumoption that centre politics winner with good solid reasoning.  A few realize Canada is an out layer in centre politics.  

Then is sort of formula countries that do through economic crisis like Euorpe and US in 2008 and fallout.  Not all of Europe but I thinking what happened in Italy this year and how centrists government was crushed by populist parties.  I beleive Canada will face the its own 2008 crisis.  Here in Canada I really concerned that NDP will support the status quo centrist potitics when the crisis comes.  This will discredit the NDP as party that has no legitatme claim populist left.

I read here some fearful people about the rise of populism because the right is doing a much better job selling there conservativ verison of populism here Canada.   And there reaction to butress the centre, this will prove to be a huge huge mistake when feel the economic downturn.  Anyone standing for the status quo will crushed and politically discreditted.  We have to have the left that speaks lefist populism, not much is happening, although some interesting things are browing in Quebec.  We need figures on the left to talk leftist populism because I am afriad the populsit right wingers will harvest all people that will looking for the answers to troubles in their lives and left will nothing to sell potitically plus be discredit after supporting the old status quo..  That is how see things going at the moment.

 

Geoff

No one has mentioned the idea of disaffected activists joining (infiltrating?) the Green Party in large numbers and moving it to the left. They have a ready-made brand, so, if the recent successes of that party are any indication, could it not be the vehicle some folks are looking for? Not to downplay QS, as I think the NDP would do well to read its program very carefully and borrow (dare I say it) liberally from it.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Geoff wrote:

No one has mentioned the idea of disaffected activists joining (infiltrating?) the Green Party in large numbers and moving it to the left. They have a ready-made brand, so, if the recent successes of that party are any indication, could it not be the vehicle some folks are looking for? Not to downplay QS, as I think the NDP would do well to read its program very carefully and borrow (dare I say it) liberally from it.

Would Elizabeth May allow that, though?  My impression is that she runs the GPC as a personal fiefdom.  Would she even let people on the left JOIN the GPC?  She seems to prefer that the party remain a one-person show, that(at least on the federal level)the party not even try to gain any other seats, and that it remain in its current, cynical arrangement with the federal Liberals-that is, that the LPC won't try to take Saanich and the Gulf Islands in exchange for the Greens never running a serious campaign in any currently Liberal ridings(and in exchange for May echoing LPC talking points against the NDP, such as the discredited canard that the NDP was to blame for Martin losing the no-confidence motion back in '06).  

Webgear

Do you think that large scale infiltrating of parties can be successful? Maybe over a number a number of decades it is possible, however not for the short term game. 

 

Geoff

Ken Burch wrote:

Geoff wrote:

No one has mentioned the idea of disaffected activists joining (infiltrating?) the Green Party in large numbers and moving it to the left. They have a ready-made brand, so, if the recent successes of that party are any indication, could it not be the vehicle some folks are looking for? Not to downplay QS, as I think the NDP would do well to read its program very carefully and borrow (dare I say it) liberally from it.

Would Elizabeth May allow that, though?  My impression is that she runs the GPC as a personal fiefdom.  Would she even let people on the left JOIN the GPC?  She seems to prefer that the party remain a one-person show, that(at least on the federal level)the party not even try to gain any other seats, and that it remain in its current, cynical arrangement with the federal Liberals-that is, that the LPC won't try to take Saanich and the Gulf Islands in exchange for the Greens never running a serious campaign in any currently Liberal ridings(and in exchange for May echoing LPC talking points against the NDP, such as the discredited canard that the NDP was to blame for Martin losing the no-confidence motion back in '06).  

Maybe "joining" or "infiltrating" was a poor choice of words. What if the Green Party was over-run with disaffected activists from the NDP or from elsewhere on the left? Elizabeth May wouild be hard-pressed to either manage or resist such an influx of socialists of whatever stripe.

jerrym

Ken Burch wrote:

Geoff wrote:

No one has mentioned the idea of disaffected activists joining (infiltrating?) the Green Party in large numbers and moving it to the left. They have a ready-made brand, so, if the recent successes of that party are any indication, could it not be the vehicle some folks are looking for? Not to downplay QS, as I think the NDP would do well to read its program very carefully and borrow (dare I say it) liberally from it.

Would Elizabeth May allow that, though?  My impression is that she runs the GPC as a personal fiefdom.  Would she even let people on the left JOIN the GPC?  She seems to prefer that the party remain a one-person show, that(at least on the federal level)the party not even try to gain any other seats, and that it remain in its current, cynical arrangement with the federal Liberals-that is, that the LPC won't try to take Saanich and the Gulf Islands in exchange for the Greens never running a serious campaign in any currently Liberal ridings(and in exchange for May echoing LPC talking points against the NDP, such as the discredited canard that the NDP was to blame for Martin losing the no-confidence motion back in '06).  

It's not just Elizabeth May.

BC Green leader Andrew Weaver and his two fellow Green MLAs opposed the BC NDP's proposal to legislate a card check system of union certification instead of the secret ballot. The secret ballot has become a tool for employers to block the formation of unions by dragging out the certification process. During this time , the employer can hold a decertification vote, which often results the dissolution of the union because of lengthy and frustrating negotiations. The NDP in 2017 had to abandon the card check legislation under threat of having their government defeated if they went ahead with it. (https://www.straight.com/news/935246/weaver-wrong-about-secret-ballot-an...)

North American Green parties include a free market and entreprenurial focus as the following article on the Ontario Green Party notes.

The Green Party of Ontario shares the same Ten Key Values as other North American Greens. Although the party has generally been perceived as being left-wing, the party combines ecologically and socially reformist policies with strong respect for the free market and entrepreneurship. Many key members are recruits from the former centre-right Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, including Elio Di Iorio, who was a protégé of former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark, and Peter Elgie, son of former Ontario Progressive Conservative cabinet minister Robert Elgie.[23] The party's newly chosen Chief Financial Officer, David Scrymgeour, was the National Director of the former Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Party_of_Ontario

 

jerrym

In 2006, Elizabeth May nominated Brian Mulroney for the Greenest Prime Minister in Canadian history and then attended the celebration of his win, saying ""For a lot of us in the Mulroney years, we didn't know it, but this was our Valhalla." (https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/mulroney-blue-tory-green-l...)

 

This reflects the right-wing orientation of many Greens that has caused some of its leaders to leave the party in frustration from its early days onwards. Here's a couple of examples. 

Kathryn Cholette is a Canadian left-green, who served as leader of the Green Party of Canada from 1988 to 1990. Just prior to the end of her term as leader, Cholette publicly resigned her post in an article entitled "Why I Left the Green Party". She was the first woman elected to lead a federal political party in Canada, preceding Audrey McLaughlin by a year.

Cholette was a co-coordinator (with Frank Cox and Kel Kelly) of the Tin Wis Coalition in British Columbia. The Tin Wis Coalition brought together First Nations peoples, labour unions and environmental groups to discuss the concerns they held in common, such as forestry issues. She was an early activist in the Green Cities Movement in Vancouver, including the effort to create a sustainable community in Vancouver's South False Creek area.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kathryn_Cholette

 

Tyson Kelsall was Campaign Chair of the Young Greens of Canada, but ended up quitting the party in frustration with its rightward orientation. 

My hope was to help build and promote a progressive party that was going to stand up to the neoclassical economic structure, bring awareness to stopping pipelines, and put real environmental protection onto Parliament’s agenda. ...

Greens in Canada have often championed the fact that their platform rises above the traditional left-right spectrum, and as long as someone aligns themselves with their six principles, they can be a Green.  These principles: non-violence, sustainability, social justice, ecological wisdom, participatory democracy and respect for diversity, leave room for vagueness and opens their party up to a diverse set of people. This is why a centrist-liberal, like Elizabeth May, someone as politically ambigious as Georges Laraque, and a former NDP MP can all be part of the same party. It’s why former Green Party Leader, Jim Harris, can endorse a conservative in the Toronto mayoral race that featured an actual progressive in Olivia Chow. ... 

Here, arises their greatest shortcoming: the Green Party has no backbone. Their platform subscribes to no ideology, and thus they do not stand for much. The reason they claim to be something different than the other mainstream parties is the very same reason that negates their existence at all.

If Canadians needed any further proof that voting Green is not intrinsically voting progressive, they can look to newly elected Vancouver School Board trustee Janet Fraser who, while holding the balance of power, voted for a right-winged NPA member to be the school board chair, ... Fraser says her decision was “based on Green values”. The NPA is backed by the far right think-tank, the Fraser Institute. Their mayoral candidate openly supported corporate classroom funding from Chevron. It is also known that right-leaning parties tend to be anti-union, which pits them ideologically against the British Columbia Teachers Federation. First, does she think voters would have elected a Green trustee, if they had thought a Green would help bring a Chevron partnership onto the school board’s agenda? Moreover, what does this say about “Green values”? A few days after Fraser cast her vote, BC Green Party Leader Adam Olsen wrote a post called “Left-right politics” where he denounces the left and right spectrum, and says, “Greens are defined by…the quality of decisions we make and our ability to defend those decisions”. This, of course, is dependent on what lens somebody is looking through while examining a decision. To be a Green then, only means being able to rationalize your decision regardless of how just or unjust it is.

One fellow Green explained to me that, “we’re basically running on a 1990s Liberal platform”. Perhaps, these are the citizens who May and the Greens are pandering to, Liberals who care about the environment a little bit more than Justin Trudeau, who has shown support for Keystone XL and previously for Energy East (although that is waning with so much grassroots opposition), but agree with most Liberal Party politics.

The Greens, as they say on their website, are historically rooted in “the counter culture movement [that] launched the first mass rejection of consumer culture”. However, they have sacrificed a lot on their journey from protest party to mainstream Canadian politics. Would a current Green Party of Canada voice claim to be anti-capitalist and against consumer culture?

In haste of gaining more political clout they have abandoned their initial base of staunch environmentalists and progressives. The Green Party movement has perhaps lost any significance it had.

http://vancouver.mediacoop.ca/story/green-party-not-necessarily-progress...

Aristotleded24

Geoff wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

Geoff wrote:

No one has mentioned the idea of disaffected activists joining (infiltrating?) the Green Party in large numbers and moving it to the left. They have a ready-made brand, so, if the recent successes of that party are any indication, could it not be the vehicle some folks are looking for? Not to downplay QS, as I think the NDP would do well to read its program very carefully and borrow (dare I say it) liberally from it.

Would Elizabeth May allow that, though?  My impression is that she runs the GPC as a personal fiefdom.  Would she even let people on the left JOIN the GPC?  She seems to prefer that the party remain a one-person show, that(at least on the federal level)the party not even try to gain any other seats, and that it remain in its current, cynical arrangement with the federal Liberals-that is, that the LPC won't try to take Saanich and the Gulf Islands in exchange for the Greens never running a serious campaign in any currently Liberal ridings(and in exchange for May echoing LPC talking points against the NDP, such as the discredited canard that the NDP was to blame for Martin losing the no-confidence motion back in '06).  

Maybe "joining" or "infiltrating" was a poor choice of words. What if the Green Party was over-run with disaffected activists from the NDP or from elsewhere on the left? Elizabeth May wouild be hard-pressed to either manage or resist such an influx of socialists of whatever stripe.

I also think that with the recent success that provincial sections of the Green Party have enjoyed in BC, Guelph, New Brunswick and Charlottetown that there will be a huge desire from rank-and-file Greens to push for more elected MPs in these areas to the point that May either gets on board with this or gets pushed aside.

Aristotleded24

I certainly share the malaise of posters regarding the state of the NDP (although the view looks particularly bleak here in Manitoba). I remember watching the NDP blow so many elections that were theirs to win, including BC 2013, Winnipeg City 2010 and 2014, and federally 2015. It was pretty shocking to see NDP commentators praise the election 2015 results even as the party was experiencing its worst ever seat loss in history. Not only that, but many at Daniel Blaikie's victory party were happy to see the Liberals elected even though the numbers for the NDP were terrible. It is ironic that going to the centre was justified under the idea of having to be "professional," while these same centrists said with a straight face that everything was fine and that Mulcair had to stay on. Do professional parties even *debate* whether or not a party leader should stay on after a loss that massive? Locally, I hope Dan Blaikie is re-elected next year, and I may even help him again. But I have a Liberal MP who is likely to be re-elected. It could be a question of who comes in second place. My federal riding contains the area where the Greens almost elected their first MLA, and they will be looking for success federally. Will they come in second place? Should I involve myself with the NDP, try to select a candidate, etc, or would my vote better be served by the Greens?

If I'm understanding the opening post correctly, it is that the federal party is dead, so let's start new. The problem here is that the federal NDP is basically the sum of its provincial parts. There are 3 provincial sections that are far from dead. The BC NDP currently holds the government, and since they started off needing support of the Greens for that to happen, that may make them adept enough to win a second term. The NDP also currently governs Alberta, and looks at a minimum to elect a strong caucus of MLAs from Edmonton, along with a few seats in Calgary that the PCs never won, at a bare minimum. The NDP in Ontario had its best election results in 23 years, second best in its history, and has a legitimate shot of forming the government next time. We also don't know how things in Saskatchewan will go in a couple of years, however there should at the minimum be even a slight uptick. What does dissolving the federal party mean in this context? Will these provincial sections go along with this? What if there isn't a clear consensus on forming a new federal party and efforts at the federal level become divided?

Another obstacle you have to consider is the unions. They are, for the most part, loyal to the NDP above all else. They have an entrenched machine that no matter what the criticism, no matter how many times the NDP fails to deliver for working people, always get a huge chunk of the population to vote NDP. You're going to have to overcome that resistance to have any impact.

jerrym

Here's another article from a disaffected Green Party member about her disillusionment with the lack of real Green activism on many issues.

As I live in Canada, I found that as a young social democrat, I had two options. These two were the New Democratic Party and the Green Party of Canada.

Faced with this decision, I carefully read over the official party platforms of both of my potential options. I was quite intrigued by the promises of the Green Party, while the NDP seemed to uphold the status-quo of Canadian social democracy. With my keen interest in the preservation of the planet and it’s natural resources, I decided to become a member of the Green Party of Canada. As well as becoming a party member, I decided that it would be in my interest as a young person to join the youth wing of the party as well. Within a few days of my joining, I was contacted by a representative of the Young Greens of Canada. I was ecstatic at this opportunity to begin my political career, and I took the first opportunity to meet up with fellow party members at a coffee shop.

This experience with fellow members of the Young Greens of Canada lead me to develop a decreasing amount of support for the party as a whole. The people with whom I met were very nice people, however, we simply did not see eye to eye on issues concerning the future of the planet and the future of humanity.

To me, it seemed as if the Green Party of Canada was filled with many people who are unable to see the full extent of the human impact on the planet. Simply organizing protests or e-waste drives is effectively doing absolutely nil to preserve a future for our planet and the life that it contains. These members seemed to be the least radicalized environmentalists that there can be. There was no actual direct action that was in the picture for this organization other than protests filled with Liberals. The focus of the party was not accurately addressing the issues that we face as a species and as a nation.

I was thoroughly disappointed in my fellow environmentalists, who seemingly sided with whatever the Liberal Party concocted as a social issue to focus on. The party was simply far too liberal to make a serious difference in ecological issues that are affecting our Earth. For example, the party decided to side with issues such as Black Lives Matter. This is a minor issue in the grand scheme of things concerning the future of our planet. Petty social issues concocted by liberals have no place in a party which boasts the environment as it’s top priority. If the future of the Earth was truly this organization’s number one priority, it would surely resemble an organization such as the infamous Earth First! In terms of values.

In conclusion, it was a combination of petty liberalism, as well as inadequate support for real environmental issues and solutions that lead me to the cancellation of my membership within the Green Party of Canada. Until I find a political party that addresses the future of our planet with adequate campaigns, I will be remaining independent.

https://medium.com/united-green-alliance/why-i-left-the-green-party-7183...

 

jerrym

The history of the Green Party in Ontario also does not fill with great confidence in it having a leftward approach to politics from Jim Harris until today. 

Encountering Jim Harris, the leader of the Green Party of Canada, can be a bit unsettling. He carefully cultivates a corporate image with his short hair and crisp Tory-blue blazer, and he has a way of speaking that seems far too slick for someone driven by a passion to protect the forests and the creatures living in it. ,,,

At the beginning of his political life, Harris felt at home in the Progressive Conservative Party. It seemed like a natural fit: his father was well-known in Toronto business circles, and he was educated at Lakefield College School, the institution northeast of Toronto attended by Prince Andrew and sons of wealthy Canadians. But his epiphany at Queen’s eventually weaned him from an obsession with the politics of fiscal restraint, and he formally joined the Green Party in 1989. Even so, he still seems more comfortable around men in pinstripes than young people in hiking boots and rain slickers. In fact, Strategic Advantage, the company he runs out of an office a few blocks from his home in Toronto’s east end, is essentially just Harris working as an inspirational corporate speaker. He has written four business books that dwell at length on leadership, and on his firm’s corporate slogan: “We work to change the world by changing ourselves and by helping our clients change.”

His website boasts a long list of clients, including Mobil and US defence contractor Honeywell, both of which have been the target of environmentalists. The workshops he offers don’t often deal with the ecology or the economics of sustainability. Yet Harris says his work as a corporate cheerleader and his leadership of the Green Party are compatible. “It’s all about change,” he insists. “How do organizations change? How do companies change? The Green Party is all about creating a more sustainable society, and to do that we have to change.” ...

The conservative positioning of the party under Harris may also explain its unusual approach to policy development. Members can comment on party policies on a website but those policies are actually determined by the national office. There has been no formal policy convention, nor does the party rely closely on the expertise of environmental organizations. ...

In the process of mainstreaming policy, Harris has driven many traditional Greens from the party, who, from his perspective, would have happily remained on the political fringe rather than abandon their cherished left-wing policies. There are some in the party still opposed to Harris, but many others—especially in Ontario and Alberta—support his eco-capitalist solutions. In the simplest analysis, Harris would end subsidies to polluting industries, such as tax breaks for oil companies, and redirect the money to social programs and initiatives to dramatically increase energy efficiency. Harris rejects the heavy hand of government intervention in the belief that if consumers are given environmentally correct options, they will make decisions that will change corporate behaviour.

https://thewalrus.ca/green-party-blues/

 

Nor does Mike Schreiner's Green Party website fill me with confidence in his description of himself with regard to left-wing activism. 

A successful entrepreneur and small business owner, Mike is a leading advocate for small businesses.

https://gpo.ca/mike-schreiner-leader/

 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Aristotleded24 wrote:

I certainly share the malaise of posters regarding the state of the NDP (although the view looks particularly bleak here in Manitoba). I remember watching the NDP blow so many elections that were theirs to win, including BC 2013, Winnipeg City 2010 and 2014, and federally 2015. It was pretty shocking to see NDP commentators praise the election 2015 results even as the party was experiencing its worst ever seat loss in history. Not only that, but many at Daniel Blaikie's victory party were happy to see the Liberals elected even though the numbers for the NDP were terrible. It is ironic that going to the centre was justified under the idea of having to be "professional," while these same centrists said with a straight face that everything was fine and that Mulcair had to stay on. Do professional parties even *debate* whether or not a party leader should stay on after a loss that massive? Locally, I hope Dan Blaikie is re-elected next year, and I may even help him again. But I have a Liberal MP who is likely to be re-elected. It could be a question of who comes in second place. My federal riding contains the area where the Greens almost elected their first MLA, and they will be looking for success federally. Will they come in second place? Should I involve myself with the NDP, try to select a candidate, etc, or would my vote better be served by the Greens?

If I'm understanding the opening post correctly, it is that the federal party is dead, so let's start new. The problem here is that the federal NDP is basically the sum of its provincial parts. There are 3 provincial sections that are far from dead. The BC NDP currently holds the government, and since they started off needing support of the Greens for that to happen, that may make them adept enough to win a second term. The NDP also currently governs Alberta, and looks at a minimum to elect a strong caucus of MLAs from Edmonton, along with a few seats in Calgary that the PCs never won, at a bare minimum. The NDP in Ontario had its best election results in 23 years, second best in its history, and has a legitimate shot of forming the government next time. We also don't know how things in Saskatchewan will go in a couple of years, however there should at the minimum be even a slight uptick. What does dissolving the federal party mean in this context? Will these provincial sections go along with this? What if there isn't a clear consensus on forming a new federal party and efforts at the federal level become divided?

Another obstacle you have to consider is the unions. They are, for the most part, loyal to the NDP above all else. They have an entrenched machine that no matter what the criticism, no matter how many times the NDP fails to deliver for working people, always get a huge chunk of the population to vote NDP. You're going to have to overcome that resistance to have any impact.

Thanks for the critique.

A couple of brief responses: 

Your point about the three relatively strong provincial NDP sections is why I limited my thought to the federal party.  It strikes me as a possibility that you could get rid of the federal party and keep those provincial sections going, just as several provincial PC sections continue to exist even though the federal PC's are a thing of the past.

As to the unions...isn't there going to be some point, don't you think where they begin to see that they're getting little, if anything, in exchange for their loyalty to the federal party?  That that party is no longer a significant influence on the overall direction of federal politics, that it isn't actually even trying to protect working people in any meaningful way?

If nothing else, you'd think they'd want bang for the buck (can't find any equivalent term that rhymes with "for the Loonie", but I'm open to suggestions).

 

Aristotleded24

Jerry, what point are you trying to make? People switch party affiliations all the time. I know people here in Winnipeg who are now active Green Party supporters, after decades of being involved with the NDP. I could probably track down articles written by former NDP supporters who are now active in the Green Party, or even the Liberals for that matter, if I wanted to. The point of this thread is to ask if involvement in the federal NDP is still worthwhile, and if not, then what steps do we take. How is bashing the Green Party relevant to this discussion?

Aristotleded24

Ken Burch wrote:
As to the unions...isn't there going to be some point, don't you think where they begin to see that they're getting little, if anything, in exchange for their loyalty to the federal party?  That that party is no longer a significant influence on the overall direction of federal politics, that it isn't actually even trying to protect working people in any meaningful way?

If nothing else, you'd think they'd want bang for the buck (can't find any equivalent term that rhymes with "for the Loonie", but I'm open to suggestions).

From my vantage point in Manitoba, I think unfortunately the answer is no. I've critiqued Manitoba unions elsewhere on the board. What's relevant to this discussion is that I honestly think the union leadership is more comfortable being around people with power and influence than organizing everyday, regular people. Not only after 17 years of an NDP government did union membership not increase in Manitoba in any significant way, but the Manitoba unions never supported Steve Ashton for leadership of the Manitoba NDP. This is odd because Ashton was elected right off a picket line and wanted to bring in anti-scab legislation. Remember what happened in Wisconsin? Even though Walker attacked unions, enough union households voted for him during the recall to let him keep his job. Right-wingers are always great about framing their policy objectives around the issue of worker freedom. My worry here in Manitoba is that Pallister will try something like that, the union leadership will turn to their members to fight against it, and the members will respond by saying, "actually, we agree with Pallister on that."

As for "bang for your buck," we use that expression here in Canada as well. You're fine on that front! :)

jerrym

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Jerry, what point are you trying to make? People switch party affiliations all the time. I know people here in Winnipeg who are now active Green Party supporters, after decades of being involved with the NDP. I could probably track down articles written by former NDP supporters who are now active in the Green Party, or even the Liberals for that matter, if I wanted to. The point of this thread is to ask if involvement in the federal NDP is still worthwhile, and if not, then what steps do we take. How is bashing the Green Party relevant to this discussion?

The point is quite simple. Look where you are going before you leap. Look at the criticisms of the Greens above; they are not, for the most part, about personality differences. They mostly concern the failure to live up to left-leaning values in the eyes of the writers. 

The establishment of the Green Party in terms of Elizabeth May, Weaver, Jim Green, etc. has not been friendly to many of the issues you advocate for and its business orientation is not likely to be friendly to re-identifying it as anything different in a major way.

I think what would happen with an attempted takeover of the Greens by left-wingers would be the same kind of frustation, only worse than with the NDP, because much of the leadership has been former Liberals and Conservatives, who put some policies in the window to attract those on the left but would end up doing the classic Liberal move of run to the left and rule to the right.

This would not be like Corbynites taking the party back, because the Greens were never once hard-core leftists. If you truly believe the NDP cannot be reformed, I don't see the Canadian Greens as the answer. They are not the European Greens in their oreintation. 

As Will Travers, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, said in a CBC National broadcast a few years ago, people are going to first focus on paying their mortgage, balancing their own budget, getting into a postsecondary institution or paying their tuition, rather than the long-term impacts of climate change, no matter how serious those impacts are. This is despite the fact that the people living in the San Francisco Bay area are facing more than $100 billion in costs for building levees and other measures to counteract a one metre expected rise in sea levels that would permanently flood the Bay’s business and other districts. The same idea applies with regard to economics. Until a crisis occurs in their lives, most people will ignore the economic problems in our system and muddle along. 

In other words, build your own party, which will mean a lot of hard work and probably poor results initially, until a devastating economic or environmental crisis hits them. That doesn't mean you quit fighting. It means you are realistic about the road ahead. 

 

Geoff

jerrym wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Jerry, what point are you trying to make? People switch party affiliations all the time. I know people here in Winnipeg who are now active Green Party supporters, after decades of being involved with the NDP. I could probably track down articles written by former NDP supporters who are now active in the Green Party, or even the Liberals for that matter, if I wanted to. The point of this thread is to ask if involvement in the federal NDP is still worthwhile, and if not, then what steps do we take. How is bashing the Green Party relevant to this discussion?

The point is quite simple. Look where you are going before you leap. Look at the criticisms of the Greens above; they are not, for the most part, about personality differences. They mostly concern the failure to live up to left-leaning values in the eyes of the writers. 

The establishment of the Green Party in terms of Elizabeth May, Weaver, Jim Green, etc. has not been friendly to many of the issues you advocate for and its business orientation is not likely to be friendly to re-identifying it as anything different in a major way.

I think what would happen with an attempted takeover of the Greens by left-wingers would be the same kind of frustation, only worse than with the NDP, because much of the leadership has been former Liberals and Conservatives, who put some policies in the window to attract those on the left but would end up doing the classic Liberal move of run to the left and rule to the right.

This would not be like Corbynites taking the party back, because the Greens were never once hard-core leftists. If you truly believe the NDP cannot be reformed, I don't see the Canadian Greens as the answer. They are not the European Greens in their oreintation. 

As Will Travers, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, said in a CBC National broadcast a few years ago, people are going to first focus on paying their mortgage, balancing their own budget, getting into a postsecondary institution or paying their tuition, rather than the long-term impacts of climate change, no matter how serious those impacts are. This is despite the fact that the people living in the San Francisco Bay area are facing more than $100 billion in costs for building levees and other measures to counteract a one metre expected rise in sea levels that would permanently flood the Bay’s business and other districts. The same idea applies with regard to economics. Until a crisis occurs in their lives, most people will ignore the economic problems in our system and muddle along. 

In other words, build your own party, which will mean a lot of hard work and probably poor results initially, until a devastating economic or environmental crisis hits them. That doesn't mean you quit fighting. It means you are realistic about the road ahead. 

 

I understand that the Green Party comes up short on a number of issues that are of critical importance to the left. However, I don't think the plan would be to join the Greens and simply go along with their platform. The party would need to be transformed by the wave of 'newcomers' into Canada's party of the left. It would become a 'red-green' party.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
However, I don't think the plan would be to join the Greens and simply go along with their platform. The party would need to be transformed by the wave of 'newcomers' into Canada's party of the left. It would become a 'red-green' party.

If that's all that needs to be done, why do it to the Greens?  Why not just do it to the NDP?

Geoff

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
However, I don't think the plan would be to join the Greens and simply go along with their platform. The party would need to be transformed by the wave of 'newcomers' into Canada's party of the left. It would become a 'red-green' party.

If that's all that needs to be done, why do it to the Greens?  Why not just do it to the NDP?

That's an option, too, I guess, although we haven't had much luck with that strategy, so far (i.e. the waffle, the NPI). You know Einstein's definition of insanity.

welder welder's picture

Ken Burch wrote:

It's becoming an increasingly pressing question. 

As currently constituted, on the watered-down-to-nothing platform and policy book the seemingly unremovable party bureaucracy insists on imposing on the party, the federal NDP represents no one, fights for no one, and is stuck at a useless 15%-17% support base in the polls.  After the 2019 election, it will likely have no seats in Quebec again-a fact which by itself guarantees that the party can't significantly increase its support in the 2023 election-and it will lose many of the seats it currently holds.  It could fall as low as 15 seats nationally.  

Given that this is the case, given that there is next to nothing that can happen between now and the next federal election that could possibly prevent the humiliating outcome I predict above...what is the point of continuing the party in its current form, keeping it in its current space on the political spectrum, just barely to the left of the Liberals if indeed it is to the left of the Liberals at all, indistinguishable from the Liberals and the Conservatives on foreign and military policy, indifferent to the struggles of working people, dismissive of the need to make an aggressive fight against poverty and environmental despoilation, totally submissive to capital on economic issues...why even bother keeping this party alive?  Why try to persuade anyone to vote for it?  Why imagine the NDP, as it is at the moment, as any real reason to exist at all anymore?

Why not just dissolve it and, in its place, build a different party...

A party that actually REJECTS the austerity consensus and balanced budget fetishism.

A party that fights for working people, which means fighting to revive and GROW the labour movement.

A party that fights for the poor, and utterly rejects the lie that poverty is caused by "bad choices", and points out instead that poverty is caused by capitalism, a system which needs poverty and unemployment to "discipline the workforce".

A party that sees war, in the 21st Century, for what it is...a purely reactionary program of organized slaughter that serves no one anymore but the wealth and which cannot free anyone or improve the lives of anyone anywhere.

A party that recognizes that the way things are is not the way things have to be, that we don't have to accept the limits on possibility imposed by the wealthy, and which realizes that nothing progressive or transformative can be done by working within those limits.

Why not just start over again and start speaking truth again?

The NDP is a party doomed to a slow death.  It's hard to imagine that anything could save it, that anything could make it relevant again.  It's time to build a party of a LIVING Left, of a left that believes another world IS possible, that we CAN win the argument on the major issues of the day and that there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from actually trying to do so.

What else is there do to, but to try something new?

 

 

 

It's almost like you want something like a rebirth of the CCF?? Or in the very least, the NDP return to its CCF roots? Frankly, I tend to agree with the former as I'm finding the NDP becoming borberline irredeemable. They seem to have given up on real working class class/economic issues and headed down the postmodernist/Frankfurt School identity politics rabbit hole. Quite frankly, this is one of the main reasons why there's a rise in populist Right wing parties and the social democratic Left is on the wane in the West. The seeming abandonment of the working class for, at the risk of sounding Marxist, petty-bourgeois ideological pursuits. A party that put class issues first and foremost and really took it to the Right and Centrist neoliberal collabartionist parties on economic issues I believe would get a serious listen out there amongst the electorate.

It looks like Bernier is going after the hard Right vote based on scapegoating of immigrants, utilizing nationalism/militarism a a substitute for "patriotism, while promoting pro market ruling class economics.This will split the Right wing vote in some area's on this country. Why can we not have a Left wing ,working class party that would be a viable alternative to the NDP that has ,for the most part, abandoned these issues?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
However, I don't think the plan would be to join the Greens and simply go along with their platform. The party would need to be transformed by the wave of 'newcomers' into Canada's party of the left. It would become a 'red-green' party.

If that's all that needs to be done, why do it to the Greens?  Why not just do it to the NDP?

Fair question.  The problem with that has been that the party bureaucracy, for decades now-I'm not sure it was even different than this in the CCF era and would like to know if anyone can speak to that?-has effectively denied rank-and-file Dippers any real say in what the party stand for.   And a major reason much of that bureaucracy was in the tank for Singh frmo the start was the he was not going to encourage any revival of internal party democracy.  The despair my thread title was grounded derives from that, from the sense that, no matter what, those who run the party on a day-to-day basis, even though they know the status quo isn't working either on the level of winning the argument on the country's direction OR growing the party in any meaningful sense, will not allow anything to change no matter what.

For those suggesting switching to the GPC, the question is:  is there any more internal democracy there than there is in the NDP?  Does anyone in the GPC other than Elizabeth May herself, or at most a handful of advisors around her as well, have any chance of having any real say in THAT party's direction? 

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