NDP Leadership 61

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Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Jerry, could you please go edit your post for readability.  You'll need to do something with the html.  And might I suggest a spare line between paragraphs.

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Sorry about the post. It was separated into paragraphs but crunched together during posting.

AnonymousMouse commented about Peggy Nash "And, boy, is it ever flat. I can't believe anyone would point to those clips as an example of why she should be leader. Great MP. Not great in those Question Period exchanges." So I decided to look at a number of clips for myself because my impression is that she is often flat although I have seen her perform well a couple of times. I agree that QP is only part of the picture, so I looked at a variety of speaking situations. For those who say it is unimportant, I strongly disagree.

We are no longer in the Mackenzie King era when a shrewd strategist can win despite poor communications skills. I have also seen the party suffer dearly in BC with leaders who had poor communication skills (Bob Skelly who was chosen because he was more left-wing, despite the fact many of his supporters in the leadership knew he suffered from stage fright at times, and Ujjal Dosanjh who had been a party bureaucrat who bored his audience with his bureaucratic style. At the same time we wandered in the political desert for ten years federally.

When Alexa McDonough, whose detailed answers were appreciated by an academic like me, was asked why Layton had been so much more successful than her (well before the 2011 election) she answered that he could give a great short clip that would make the news while her more detailed answers would either not make the broadcast or be ignored by the audience. Layton took his ability to an even higher level during the election because having faced death he reached an even higher degree of comfort in his own skin and appreciation of life and others than the already exceptionally high level he had attained. Leadership is more than having good communication skills, but those skills are very important ingredient of success, especially today. I also decided to do this because I am tired of reading arguments and want to look at evidence.

For what its worth here are my impressions of Peggy on YouTube. I strongly recommend you look at a broad cross-section of clips of candidates yourself because in 40 years of teaching I have had students tell me everything from I was the best teacher they ever had to the worst they ever had and everything in between. So make up your own mind.

Peggy Nash Debates Conservative Tax Cuts (Power and Politics discussion): speaks in monotone with some stammering

Nash on Conservative 2011 Budget (CBC: Federal Budget): asked sharp questions with some passion

Peggy Nash Takes on Conservatives on G8-G20 (CTV Power Play): speaks in monotone, stammers and repeats some words

Peggy Nash Debates Corporate Tax Cuts (Power and Politics discussion): speaks in monotone, stammers and repeats some words

Peggy Nash on Iraq War Resistors (taped statement): speaks with conviction on issue

Peggy Nash on Bill C-51 on Food and Drug Act (Parliament): mostly monotone and continually glancing at notes;

Peggy Nash, Profile and leadership thoughts (interview); speaking in low voice, little sense of confidence, body language suggests discomfort, says "uh" often, voice trailing off

Peggy Nash on Diesel Trains in West Toronto (community rally); strong forceful speech against expansion of rail service

Peggy Nash Nomination Acceptance Speech: spoken with some force but often reading prepared speech

Peggy Nash Eulogy for Julius Deutsch: some good use of humour and good speaking style at start, but looking down more and more and reading as speech continues and voice drops off;

Peggy Nash Statement on Junction Shulman Synagogue (Parliament); bland monotone reading (very little looking up) from statement


Anyways, I think Brian made an unforced error in that Globe interview. I've tried to think about this from numerous angles, and I just think it was either a poorly executed hit on Mulcair, or else an undisciplined moment.

He cannot "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" in the political ring yet, that's for sure. Boy could Layton ever do that, though. Land a punch ever so lightly, to lasting effect, without ever looking mean about it.


Of course Topp's move would be seen by the usual suspects as 'proof' that he isn't getting anywhere. "That's why he needs to do this."

I did say that I do not see how the other candidates [than Mulcair] think they can win by coasting along in a beauty contest where you just say nice things about what you like. And least of all for Topp and Nash who even people who want to vote for them wonder if they have fire or zip or whatever. Of course, going negative as part of distinguishing yourself is not the only way to do it. But if you cannot do it like say, Cullen... you do it how yu can.

Topp was the one with the most chance for mostly getting the kind of blowback being seen here. But Brian has not been playing it safe at any time during this race,

And there is one reason for doing it that has nothing to do with levels of support showing to date.


ottawaobserver wrote:

AnonymousMouse wrote:

In your case OO, I doubt you are starting out in the same place wage zombie is and probably already believe Mulcair is very popular in Quebec. Correct me if I'm wrong on that part.

I believe Mr. Mulcair has been very visible in Quebec, and was the only face of the NDP besides Jack prior to the May election. He is a known personality there. That's as much as I would feel comfortable in assessing his popularity there.

Many people in the Quebec commentariat have mixed feelings about him, though most of them would hardly be classified as NDP-friendly. However, I am forced to ask myself why those same pundits are so keen to now make the leadership race a question of "support Mulcair or it's a slap in the face to Quebec". Admittedly Mulcair himself should not wear the consequences of all their framing of this, except to the extent that his campaign trumpets it as part of the inevitability meme.

I do feel there will be other faces and personalities emerge from our Quebec caucus over the coming 3 years, who may be just as popular as he, or perhaps eventually more so. What do I know. I'm watching from the outside and not as closely as I'd like to had I more time.

quote: What took place in Quebec, this spring, was a major shift of social democrats from separatist to pan-Canadian loyalty, something that some of us had been hooping would happen for the past 50 years. Setting aside the bean-counting that that massive transition has produced, it is the single most significant movement to be recognized, coming out of May 2, 2011.

Given that, I fail to understand how you can make this statement, OO: "Many people in the Quebec commentariat have mixed feelings about him, though most of them would hardly be classified as NDP-friendly. However, I am forced to ask myself why those same pundits are so keen to now make the leadership race a question of "support Mulcair or it's a slap in the face to Quebec"."

You don't understand how the rump of the sovereignist/independent element in Quebec would use EXACTLY that tactic to make the last gesture of an independence movement one of bravado?

Now I'm at a loss to understand your take on events just to the east of you.Your observation could have come straight from the Tar Patch.


ottawaobserver wrote:

[Topp] cannot "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" in the political ring yet, that's for sure. Boy could Layton ever do that, though. Land a punch ever so lightly, to lasting effect, without ever looking mean about it.

You are right that Topp does not have those skills.

But its not the skills to deliver a punch that would get the job done here- by Jack Layton either.

Because Brian Topp has been articulating his vision and primary message that we need a mandate in the positive way that is expected for months now. And where has it gotten? How many people even in this most likely prefect audience for the idea... are saying 'yeah, we need a mandate.'?

When did even Jack Layton with all his skills push within the party a 'big idea' to people wanting it?

I would not have thought that it would be an uphill battle within babble and the activist culture of the NDP that we need a mandate as part of winning. But apparently it is. That makes it a 'big idea' in the sense of something that people are not already primed to jump up and affirm it. And when did Jack ever plug away at something like that?

Had Jack Layton done that, it would have been a conversation over time. Which is what Brian Topp was doing. But his big idea has not been catching on to any degree that is sufficent. It was picked up eagerly by those of us who have always wanted to hear it. And that appears to be it.

Part of Brian's message all along has been the corralary of needing a mandate: if you do not come into government with a mandate 'vetted' by the voters hearing it during and before the election... then you end up just managing the situation as best you can. Which is just not good enough for the situation we are and will be in.

Well, if people are not getting that message... it is not landing... then the next step is to make it more concrete in whatever way is available.

And the obvious way to do that is to say to people that no mandate and never doing better than managing the [bad] situation is what you are going to get from the leading candidate.

That is also obviously risky for Brain Topp's quest to win this race. Calling that desperate is the cup half empty. Calling it 'in for a penny in for a pound' is the cup half full.

I think it is a calculated gamble... that Topp saw continuing to follw the course he and we are on, he was just going to run out of time. If down that path you expect it most likely you will not win, then go another path. Brian Topp the campaigner was not going to try banking on a different message/vision. This is it. So find a differnt path for giving it traction.

For going on the offensive this is a btter time than initiating it during the debates. Gives some time to see where things fall.

It's too bad that gets viewed as Topp attacking. But moaning about that is pointless.


ottawaobserver wrote:

Provincially Penticton itself is a target, but unless Kelowna gets pulled out of the riding, it won't matter how much anyone cooperates there, 54% of the vote is 54% of the vote, and the Conservatives have it locked up.

A tiny correction-West Kelowna is a separate municipality from Kelowna, which is in Kelowna-Lake Country. 


My apologies, and symapthies, for all the words.

By the time I could have pullled it together as something other than stream of conciousness, events would be by us.


The idea of needing a mandate to govern [or not] is much bigger than Brian Topp and his campaign. I so expected two months ago that it would have traction, that I almost assumed some of the other candidates would be copy-catting.

Maybe, presumably, the words chosen to illustrate would be very different. No matter. All the better to me if someone trumps Brian Topp on getting it across.


I cross-posted that with OO, but this leads to why I think that was deliberate and calculated by Brian in the Globe interview. But before I go into why I think he did it... it just does not read like an unintentional flubb to me. Or even just getting carried away and saying what he thinks- that being not what he intended to say.

From the beginning Brian's feature has been the candidate with the vision of what the NDP needs to do to win. Including, front and centre, that it is about more than the winning. Of course you need to have the winning 'recipe'... and if it isnt about winning, then it is just good intentions.

But there are many possible paths to winning, so it is also about how you win. And most of all, the mandate you take with you.

Mandates come from what you spell out to the voters before they vote for you. If you know its going to be controversial, and because of that you eschew talking about it, you will still leave it sitting on the table after you govern.

If you dont have a mandate to do something, what are you 'winning'?

And that is more true than ever when you come to power after the HarperCons have deliberately stripped the cupboard bare to make it near impossible for their succesors to do anything.


Here is one thing I thought when Topp staked out this turf. This articulated vision of what the NDP needs to do is coming from a person who people have reason to see as one of the many in the NDP for whom it is just about winning. Period. The "how" part being just the detailed moves of how you win. Period.

So if Brian Topp thinks not only that we need to have a mandate, but that we can while we win.... then I am listening. And he bol;sters that in talks by more than intimating that this is whay you were going to be getting from Jack Layton. "And we still need to do it."

Now obviously, this is what Brian Topp wanted me an others to see.

I expected that this idea- irregardless of who it was coming from- was going to be popular among the activist cadre of the NDP. I also expected that because of Brain's history in the party, people would be very skeptical of his credibility as the man saying "its not just about winning, we need a winning recipe with a mandate."

Personaly, I had reason to feel that Brian was not just saying this. It mattered to me that he laid out policy that would be impossible for him to ever back away from. But that is a strategic assessment, and I never expected other people to buy it. I honestly thought that Brian deserved every bit of skepticism that he was suddenly the one on about needing a  mandate as part of our recipe for winning. Let alone whther he had the retail political skills to be the one to deliver.


What I never would have expected, what surprised and dissapoints me, is that even on this board by and large people are unconcerned about whather we have a mandate or not. I didn't expect Brian Topp to catch on.

I just assumed that the idea of needing a mandate would be popular here.

Yet in 7,000 posts I have about 2 times heard someone say, "I like that, but Brian Topp is just not the one for delivering it."



quote: "Yet in 7,000 posts I have about 2 times heard someone say, "I like that, but Brian Topp is just not the one for delivering it". "

One is to take from that, supposedly, that the remaining 6,998 posters - all of them admitting to a "liking" for what Topp has said - thought him capable, even the most capable, of delivery?

Clearly, I have missed something in translation from what would have to be the most benign-appearing - yet what would have in fact to be - the most convoluted of those 7,000 posts.




I guess there is the possibility that George / Gaian's stalking behaviour does mean that is the only explanation for the last post.

No question George is being snide as usual, but that may obscure that I was not clear in that particular point. So...

I said that only about twice have I ever heard someone say that they like Topp's idea that we must include a mandate in our winning recipe, but not him being the one to realize it.

If anyone but George thought that implies that everyone else liked the idea AND Topp, my apologies.




Well, you know, Ken, there are Clarity Acts, and then there are acts requiring clarity. I'm guilty of lack of clarity myself, and have to work at it, constantly. Please bring me up on it any time you find I'm guilty. But mine come from attempting brevity. The charge of "stalking" is a bit rich. There is no way that one could avoid appearing in the shadow of your posts.

I'm not in your political camp. Expect requests for clarity.


Closing for length.  #62 up and running


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