Coup by NDP Brass Aims to Block Assessment of Jagmeet Singh - Restore Democracy!

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Mighty Middle
Coup by NDP Brass Aims to Block Assessment of Jagmeet Singh - Restore Democracy!

Barry Weisleder (Co-Chair of the NDP Socialist Caucus) is just stunned over the fact Jagmeet Singh personally intervened to get the NDP federal convention cancelled. He writes in a letter to the editor below

It was good to see Jagmeet Singh get some positive coverage post-election, but why has the NDP federal council, at the urging of Singh, cancelled the NDP federal convention, which the party constitution requires be held in 2020? Instead, the council put off the convention to late 2021.

NDP conventions are typically money-makers. Moreover, they are vital venues for members to have their say. Future funding and internal democracy are two elements that the NDP now desperately needs.

Is fear of a leadership review a reason for the cancellation? The loss of 20 seats since the 2015 election is bad, but may have been even worse had Singh not turned a little to the left to differentiate himself from the Liberal Party.

https://nowtoronto.com/news/letters-to-the-editor/animal-rights-doug-for...

Meanwhile the NDP Socialist Caucus is circulating a resolution that calls on the Federal Council and Leader to hold a convention in 2020. Jagmeet Singh told an NDP candidate in Vancouver in mid-December that the cancellation was “a done deal”. If the campaign to restore democracy falls on deaf ears one can also safely predict the rank and file will strike with a vengeance against this coup at the first opportunity.

Read "Coup by NDP Brass Aims to Block Assessment of Singh" below

http://ndpsocialists.ca/coup-by-ndp-brass-aims-to-block-assessment-of-si...

Badriya

Thanks for this MM.  If Babblers click on the second link it will lead them to a petition to re-instate 2020 Convention.

Sean in Ottawa

Just a guess -- maybe it is money?

From 2018:

"“The last three years weren’t easy,” party president Mathieu Vick said in a telephone interview on Tuesday. There were two national conventions and a leadership race that became necessary when the party voted to replace Tom Mulcair, said Mr. Vick, and those events cost money."

There may be some debate over this but the party is so desperate that it cannot mount a convention without seriously compromising its regular work. I am not sure if a convention is even the most effective way to examine this. 

Perhaps the party could consider some low cost way of doing a post-mortem and being accountable to members for that?

I agree that this process should not be skipped but in today's age of new technologies is there a more cost effective way? Can there be a series of local grass roots meetings and a virtual online meetup of hundreds of people?

I would be open minded about how they mnage this so long as they don't just ignore it.

Aristotleded24

Of all the things to go after the NDP for, this is relatively minor. Maybe technically the convention should be held this year. So what if it's put off until next? Don't we have more important things to worry about? Currently there is a mandatory leadership review that is part of Convention. If the NDP moves to change that, I would be concerned. For now, why not wait an extra year for Convention? I'm far more concerned about the inability of multiple NDP leaders to articulate and stick to a strong stance in favour of Palestinian rights than when Convention is held.

Mighty Middle

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Of all the things to go after the NDP for, this is relatively minor.

NDP Socialist Caucus says Democracy is not "minor"

Badriya

Aristotleded24, I agree with you that NDP leaders need to articulate a strong stance in favour of Palestinian rights, but they need to be prodded into doing so by the grass roots.  I am a member of one of 28 riding associations who, along with the Young New Democrats and some current and former MPs, approved a motion which wanted to ban “settlement products from Canadian markets, and us[e] other forms of diplomatic and economic pressure to end the occupation.”  As you are aware this motion did not make it to the policy agenda of the 2018 Convention.  I would hope that we will be able to bring a similar motion to the next Convention, and at least get it onto the floor for debate.  And the sooner the better!

Aristotleded24

Hey, if people want to still try and have Convention this year, I'm fine with them lobbying for it. My issue is I believe the Socialist Caucus, whom I agree with on many policy and strategy fronts, discredits themselves by turning a logistical question about when to have Convention into a major issue claiming that it's all about preventing democracy in the NDP when there are far more egregious anti-democratic moves that have happened and continue to happen.

Mighty Middle

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Hey, if people want to still try and have Convention this year, I'm fine with them lobbying for it. My issue is I believe the Socialist Caucus, whom I agree with on many policy and strategy fronts, discredits themselves by turning a logistical question about when to have Convention into a major issue claiming that it's all about preventing democracy in the NDP when there are far more egregious anti-democratic moves that have happened and continue to happen.

Socialist Caucus is not discrediting themselves, it is NDP Party Brass who claim to be fighting for democracy, but won't preach the same at home.

Sean in Ottawa

The party is on its financial knees. A compromise position shoudl be possible but a full blown convention is probably somethingt that would damage the party severely. The party could be facing an election in a year or two.

If it is broken how much of its democracy will even be relevant?

Instead of proposing an election why is the caucus not offering ideas on other means to achieve the important accountability, democratic process that the party needs?

kropotkin1951

The party has changed the convention dates in the past if I am not mistaken. During the Harper minority years election scares were regular.  I think that a full blown convention would be too expensive and they need to prepare for the next election. In this digital age they could engage with the membership on resolutions and instead of only the delegates have everyone shaping policy. Unfortunately I believe the odds of this kind of grassroots democracy breaking out in the NDP at any level are somewhat better than winning a lottery but not much.

Mighty Middle

kropotkin1951 wrote:

In this digital age they could engage with the membership on resolutions and instead of only the delegates have everyone shaping policy.

But then how will Barry Weisleder be able to pass out his famous pamphelts to delegates.

Sean in Ottawa

kropotkin1951 wrote:

The party has changed the convention dates in the past if I am not mistaken. During the Harper minority years election scares were regular.  I think that a full blown convention would be too expensive and they need to prepare for the next election. In this digital age they could engage with the membership on resolutions and instead of only the delegates have everyone shaping policy. Unfortunately I believe the odds of this kind of grassroots democracy breaking out in the NDP at any level are somewhat better than winning a lottery but not much.

I agree with the process you suggest. Unfortunately I am also not optimistic. The party would certainyl gain out of the experience. Engaging directly with membership in a more wholesome way would even make the penury worth it.

cco

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The party is on its financial knees. A compromise position shoudl be possible but a full blown convention is probably somethingt that would damage the party severely. The party could be facing an election in a year or two.

They charge convention fees. It's not like the party just pays for the whole shindig out of its own bank account. And keeping a leader who's demonstrably bad at fundraising – and everything else – will do more damage to the party than a convention, no matter what alternate reality of expectations management Singh's people have created. The party being broke is Singh's fault, not his damned insurance policy.

kropotkin1951

The NDP's woes are not this leaders problem. He inherited a party that was kneecapped by a centrist. At this point changing leaders would have no effect on the parties fortunes either politcally or financially.

The membership needs to figure out how to oust the cabal that runs the Ottawa party and get some democratic control over policies. Who cares if they have a convention where the NDP's middle class members who can afford the fees and many paid staff from around the country both federally and provincially will meet and pass resolutions that the caucus will ignore if they are too left wing. Its the system that  is broken.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

There is an interview with Leo Panitch on Jacobin about the history and future of social democratic parties like the NDP which seems quite relevant to this discussion. The first question and answer is:

Jacobin wrote:

BKS

We talk a lot about how social-democratic parties have lurched rightward in recent decades. But in some ways the dangers of conservatism and bureaucratization was already a topic of discussion within the socialist movement before World War I, when mass workers’ parties began to emerge in Europe.

LP

The essential thing, I think, is to familiarize oneself with a book by Robert Michels, who was one of those amazing early twentieth century European journalists, who wrote in Italian, French, and German, and was a former student of the sociologist Max Weber. Michel wrote a famous book called Political Parties, in which he talks about the “iron law of oligarchy.” In it, he traces the development of these mass socialist parties which had begun outside of parliament, emerging out of working-class organization, between 1870 and World War I, and he says, “Look, you can’t compare these parties to the bourgeois parties which originated in parliament, and which seek above all to maintain the power of a preexisting elite.”

Unlike the bourgeois parties, the parties of socialism originated outside the electoral arena, in the growth of the workers movement, and their sovereign bodies were the mass conference of delegates, representing the mass membership rather than in the parliamentary elite. Michels took the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) as his model and he showed that by World War I, both due to organizational and what he called “psychological” reasons — remember this was the era of Freud — these mass socialist parties had become increasingly dominated by oligarchic leaderships. And he was largely right. He showed that the leadership did not want to go back to the factory, and therefore used its control over the party press, party finances, and the conference agendas in such a way as to reproduce itself.

This gave rise to the “social-democratic centralism” that characterized the Austrian, Swedish, as well as German social-democratic parties right through the twentieth centuries, including in their most successful period of the 1950s and 1960s.

So I think that it is true that this oligarchic tendency, while it was challenged from time to time in pre-World War I social democracy, was not nearly addressed enough, and certainly not nearly enough afterwards. And it has to be said that, except for Bukharin, none of the Bolshevik leadership ever seriously confronted Michels, either.

When I used to be invited to Cuba or Yugoslavia and asked to speak to party meetings there, I would mainly talk about that book, and let me tell you it was very interesting to see the recognition on the faces of the people who would be listening, who’d never heard of this work.

kropotkin1951

Thanks Michael. I enjoyed the article.  During the years that I was helping to elect left wing NDP MP's our campaign team used to pull its hair out over the ban on using working class or workers in its national ads. Instead of educating people to their true position in our society the NDP thought that what Canada needed was another party dedicated to the middle class voter.

The BC NDP for instance just had a review of the minimum wage and decided that poor people are not worthy enough to have an ally in government. Currently, the minimum wage in BC is $13.85/hour, but the Living Wage in Metro Vancouver for 2019 is $19.50/hour. This means that families who work for low wages often face impossible choices: buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent.

Aristotleded24

kropotkin1951 wrote:
The BC NDP for instance just had a review of the minimum wage and decided that poor people are not worthy enough to have an ally in government. Currently, the minimum wage in BC is $13.85/hour, but the Living Wage in Metro Vancouver for 2019 is $19.50/hour. This means that families who work for low wages often face impossible choices: buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent.

The government has at least committed to raising the wages to $15 an hour by the end of its term. That's more than we are getting here in Manitoba, which is an increase of about 30 cents an hour per year unless the economy stops growing. I understand that it may still be too small, but suppose the living wage is $19.50 an hour, I'd rather try to survive that on $15 an hour than what the minimum wage is here in Manitoba.

kropotkin1951

Scraps for the poor and selfies with oil workers, not my kind of government.

 

Aristotleded24

Not saying that people don't have legitimate reasons to be unhappy with some of Horgan's decisions, but I will take what he has done on poverty in his less than 3 years over what the Manitoba NDP did on poverty in its 17 years. From the vantage point of living under Brian Pallister, Horgan looks pretty good to me by comparison.

Pondering

I very much remember the 6 NDP resolutions for the legalization of marijuana that the resolution committee changed to be a resolution supporting the decriminalization only.

The reaction here seemed to be "So what?" now let's get on with the Palestinian issue or lets talk about Venezuela because Canada is such an influencial country those are issues we could do something about. 

At that time the issue to me was twofold. One, it was stupid. The NDP standing right of the Liberals on a social issues and eventually economics with the balanced budget mandra. Hell even lefties agree with the right that the deficit is the be all and end all of good economics. The federal NDP supports right wing philosophy. 

Two, it was jaw droppingly undemocratic to prevent the original resolution, from six ridings, to come to a vote. 

The resolution committee acts as a block to prevent voting on issues in which the members might disagree with the leadership group whomever they are. 

The Liberals held their leadership vote online allowing anyone interested to vote even without joining the party. Trudeau may be a dud but his election as leader was as democratic as it gets. 

After Chretien/Martin the party was controlled by the executive, just like the NDP.

Singh is not the issue. I tend to agree he will have to go eventually in order to win nationally but for now Singh isn't the problem. 

I think that the NDP needs to break from it's provincial parties because provinces have varying levels of progressiveness particulary with the rise of climate change. Horgan and Notley are perfect examples. They are better off free from the federal party and vice versa. 

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..the bottom up was needed to create the ccf then discarded afterwards. isn't that what panitch is saying?

..democracy operates from the bottom up. never from the top down. imho.

Sean in Ottawa

What we need is a warning to convention attendees that their decisions about party policy will not be ignored becuase at the moment those decisions are known to be meaningless. Then we need those decisions to be respected. The party needs to run on them and learn to be accountable from the bottom up. The rot is due to the fact that the bottom is shut out of the real decisions. Now it cannot be blammed for throwing messages and symobols around becuase it is used to being ignored. You really need soemone to lay down the line.

Would it not be great if a leader went to the convention saying oky be careful becuase I am going to listen to you and this is going to guide policy -- and then mean it. At that point I could accept a fair bit of party discipline when it comes to defending member resolutions.

Put another way: I think MPs ought to be very free except where they are contradicting member decisions. This is the balance missing that we need. Having both ends defer to the middle (party leadership) is the problem. Having the MP defer to the leadership BECAUSE it is deferring to the member resolutions, to me is not a catastrophe.

jerrym

Aristotleded24 wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:
The BC NDP for instance just had a review of the minimum wage and decided that poor people are not worthy enough to have an ally in government. Currently, the minimum wage in BC is $13.85/hour, but the Living Wage in Metro Vancouver for 2019 is $19.50/hour. This means that families who work for low wages often face impossible choices: buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent.

The government has at least committed to raising the wages to $15 an hour by the end of its term. That's more than we are getting here in Manitoba, which is an increase of about 30 cents an hour per year unless the economy stops growing. I understand that it may still be too small, but suppose the living wage is $19.50 an hour, I'd rather try to survive that on $15 an hour than what the minimum wage is here in Manitoba.

The hourly wages are too low in both cities but when you say that you would rather have the $15 a hour of BC, you are leaving out housing costs in determining what one's wages can buy.

In April 2018 in Winnipeg "One bedroom apartments in Winnipeg rent for $947 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $1136 (https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-winnipeg-rent-trends/)

In Vancouver "The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is $3,049, while a one-bedroom averages $2,208. This is up from May, when the average two-bedroom cost $2,915." (https://www.vancourier.com/real-estate/vancouver-has-canada-s-least-affo...) This produces an annual rent of  $26,496 for a one bedroom and $34,980 for a two bedroom. A $15 a hour job for a 40 hour week brings produces only $31,200 in a year before taxes and other expenses. 

A sad commentary on modern life is that my father and grandfather in the 1950s and 1960s both owned two houses without ever making the average wage. 

 

Mighty Middle

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is defending his party’s decision to delay its next national convention, where he is slated to face a vote on his leadership, claiming he has “NO DOUBT” that New Democrats support him.

https://www.thestar.com/politics/federal/2020/01/22/ndp-delays-national-...

Aristotleded24

Looks like this is all a moot point anyways, as the convention would have been moved to 2021 regardless because of coronavirus.

NorthReport

It's quite obvious workers have been on a financial one way slide downhill for a long, long time. Unfortunately COVID-19 will only make things a lot worse. Has there every been any studies showing a comparison in wages for university students compared to construction workers unionized wages? Looking at it from a strictly financial point of view, my  hunch is that the majority of university students make less. University is big business and a lot, but not all, students have been sold a bill of goods.

jerrym wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:
The BC NDP for instance just had a review of the minimum wage and decided that poor people are not worthy enough to have an ally in government. Currently, the minimum wage in BC is $13.85/hour, but the Living Wage in Metro Vancouver for 2019 is $19.50/hour. This means that families who work for low wages often face impossible choices: buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent.

The government has at least committed to raising the wages to $15 an hour by the end of its term. That's more than we are getting here in Manitoba, which is an increase of about 30 cents an hour per year unless the economy stops growing. I understand that it may still be too small, but suppose the living wage is $19.50 an hour, I'd rather try to survive that on $15 an hour than what the minimum wage is here in Manitoba.

The hourly wages are too low in both cities but when you say that you would rather have the $15 a hour of BC, you are leaving out housing costs in determining what one's wages can buy.

In April 2018 in Winnipeg "One bedroom apartments in Winnipeg rent for $947 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $1136 (https://www.rentjungle.com/average-rent-in-winnipeg-rent-trends/)

In Vancouver "The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Vancouver is $3,049, while a one-bedroom averages $2,208. This is up from May, when the average two-bedroom cost $2,915." (https://www.vancourier.com/real-estate/vancouver-has-canada-s-least-affo...) This produces an annual rent of  $26,496 for a one bedroom and $34,980 for a two bedroom. A $15 a hour job for a 40 hour week brings produces only $31,200 in a year before taxes and other expenses. 

A sad commentary on modern life is that my father and grandfather in the 1950s and 1960s both owned two houses without ever making the average wage. 

 

Misfit Misfit's picture

More NDP negative fixation by Mighty Middle. Please everybody just ignore this thread.

Sean in Ottawa

There are many I am sure in the NDP not thrilled with Singh or the direction of the NDP.

However, the ill feeling is not that overwhelming. The party is in serious financial trouble and I hardly think even the most unhappy with him would want the party to bankrupt itself for another leadership convention. There is not confidence that there is another better leader worth this gamble.

I think people would want to express their concerns and have them heard but not a leadership convention. It think the common themes in the NDP right now are:

1) Greater listening of grassroots supporters

2) Fundraising to fix the finances.

3) My issue: really get your priorities straight and back them up accordingly

I also think there is a sense of wanting to give him a chance to fix these and to improve. I see no blood lust even if enthusiasm is not high. 

The party did not do well in the election but he was seen as running a good campaign and with having improved the level of support from the start of the cmapaign. His personal popularity at the end of the campaign exceeded the party and very likely still does.

I  personally am very unhappy with the way the NDP has managed this present crisis but these views are not that widespread as far as I know. My concerns is not that the NDP did not ask for the right things but that they did not make their vote on this. This is likely not going to be a major issue except for a low number of people. I think the majority unhappy with this will direct their anger towards Trudeau. As well my anger to Singh is limited by the fact that I consider some of this to tactical and communciations blundering and a problem with a culture in the party now. I do not think that there is any person I can point to as leader who would make this all better.

I think Singh is right saying the party is behind him.

I also think there is considerably bad blood among social media party supporters of the NDP and Liberals due to the consistent anti NDP venom coming from Liberals. This will leave the party very defensive.

Ken Burch

Why not do a virtual convention?

We're all used to Zoom meetings by now.

And is there a reason a leadership review ballot could not be held online?

Ken Burch

That said...no, this decision does not justify doing what Mighty Middle started this thread to try and get NDP members to do and switch to the even more conservative Liberals.

NDPP

Tweedle-dee and tweedle-dumber. Hill & Knowlton sellout socialism here we come! NDP=No Difference Party. PS Great job helping get  NAFTA passed Jagmeet!

Aristotleded24

Ken Burch wrote:
Why not do a virtual convention?

We're all used to Zoom meetings by now.

And is there a reason a leadership review ballot could not be held online?

That's a great idea! Let's turn over the entire process to a digital entity with lots of problems of potential dropped connections, gouging by big tech companies, throttling (or worse, outright shutting down the convention because the tech companies would love to crush any political organization that is remotely socialist) and insecure data transmissions that can easily be hacked, and  who knows what kind of security vulnerabilities that would expose on the users devices. I can't see any downside to that at all.

cco

Digital voting worked fantastically in 2012, after all.

Mighty Middle

Ken Burch wrote:

That said...no, this decision does not justify doing what Mighty Middle started this thread to try and get NDP members to do and switch to the even more conservative Liberals.

It was the NDP Socialists Caucus t& Barry Weisleder that went to the media - so you should direct your comments to them if you don't want them speaking out.

http://ndpsocialists.ca/coup-by-ndp-brass-aims-to-block-assessment-of-si...

Mighty Middle

Ken Burch wrote:

Why not do a virtual convention?

We're all used to Zoom meetings by now.

And is there a reason a leadership review ballot could not be held online?

NDP is now supporting the conservatives for In-Person Question Period during Covid19 - at least once a week. Then the rest of the week virtual question period.

Aristotleded24

Mighty Middle wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

That said...no, this decision does not justify doing what Mighty Middle started this thread to try and get NDP members to do and switch to the even more conservative Liberals.

It was the NDP Socialists Caucus t& Barry Weisleder that went to the media - so you should direct your comments to them if you don't want them speaking out.

">http://ndpsocialists.ca/coup-by-ndp-brass-aims-to-block-assessment-of-si...

They did so before covid was forcing cancellation of large events like political party conventions. Times have changed.

Mighty Middle

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Mighty Middle wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

That said...no, this decision does not justify doing what Mighty Middle started this thread to try and get NDP members to do and switch to the even more conservative Liberals.

It was the NDP Socialists Caucus t& Barry Weisleder that went to the media - so you should direct your comments to them if you don't want them speaking out.

">http://ndpsocialists.ca/coup-by-ndp-brass-aims-to-block-assessment-of-si...

They did so before covid was forcing cancellation of large events like political party conventions. Times have changed.

Yes and the originating date on this thread is January 16, 2020 - way before Covid19 forced cancellations of large events.

Ken Burch

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:
Why not do a virtual convention?

We're all used to Zoom meetings by now.

And is there a reason a leadership review ballot could not be held online?

That's a great idea! Let's turn over the entire process to a digital entity with lots of problems of potential dropped connections, gouging by big tech companies, throttling (or worse, outright shutting down the convention because the tech companies would love to crush any political organization that is remotely socialist) and insecure data transmissions that can easily be hacked, and  who knows what kind of security vulnerabilities that would expose on the users devices. I can't see any downside to that at all.

A bit more harshness than was truly necessary there.  
All I was trying to do was to offer a suggestion about how to accommodate both the need to be careful with party funds AND the need for accountability in the leadership.  

You could have made your point without making it sound like I should have known perfectly that what I was suggesting was stupid.

I'll just assume I caught you on a bad day.

 

Aristotleded24

Mighty Middle wrote:

Aristotleded24 wrote:

Mighty Middle wrote:

Ken Burch wrote:

That said...no, this decision does not justify doing what Mighty Middle started this thread to try and get NDP members to do and switch to the even more conservative Liberals.

It was the NDP Socialists Caucus t& Barry Weisleder that went to the media - so you should direct your comments to them if you don't want them speaking out.

">http://ndpsocialists.ca/coup-by-ndp-brass-aims-to-block-assessment-of-si...

They did so before covid was forcing cancellation of large events like political party conventions. Times have changed.

Yes and the originating date on this thread is January 16, 2020 - way before Covid19 forced cancellations of large events.

Are you dense? The point is that the whole coronavirus thing sidelined the convention anyways, so for all practical purposes Weisleder's contention is a moot point.

Mighty Middle

Aristotleded24 wrote:

The point is that the whole coronavirus thing sidelined the convention anyways, so for all practical purposes Weisleder's contention is a moot point.

Nobody has a Crystal Ball