What lessons should the Federal NDP take from the Nova Scotia experience/coming nightmare?

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Ken Burch
What lessons should the Federal NDP take from the Nova Scotia experience/coming nightmare?

OK, it's possible that Dexter's government could stage a miraculous comeback in the last week.

But does anybody really expect that?

What lessons to folks here think the federal NDP should take from Dexter's insistence on "cleaning up the mess" and devoting his entire mandate to virtually nothing but austerity(austerity made worse by his insistence on going ahead with tax cuts for the rich at the same time).

Would anybody still argue that a federal NDP government should take any of the economic and budgetary measures Dexter took, given that those measures seem to have guaranteed Dexter's party a massive defeat next week?

Lens Solution

That is one of those existential questions that is difficult to answer.

The NDP had that debate last year at the leadership convention, and at the policy convention this year.

Is there a danger in becoming too much like the Liberals and Conservatives if the NDP moves to the center?  Or does it need to move to the center in order to be more mainstream?

Ed Broadbent & the old guard in the NDP were opposed to Tom Mulcair's leadership because they felt it would move the party too far away from its roots and too much like the Liberals or like New Labour in the UK under Tony Blair.

So the key is to find out how to appeal to voters without giving up too much of what the party stands for or become too similiar to the other parties.

socialdemocrati...

Dexter's measures weren't just politically stupid (for a social democratic party). They were also terrible for the economy, and based on the kinds of ideas that have been discredited over the past 30 years, starting in Latin America, and now following through in America and Europe.

A key lesson is that the NDP needs to be anti-austerity.

The NDP might still be pressured by the media (and their financial backers) into proving their "fiscal discipline" by stabbing themselves in the stomach. While giving a free pass to the other two parties that have gradually dismantled the middle class and left all but the resource-exporting provinces in a downward spiral. (Let alone created huge debts in the process.)

So a tangential lesson, if the media points to a growing debt and demands the neoliberal solution that makes things worse, the NDP needs to come up with an intelligent alternative. Which, depending on who you ask, is dodging the issue, or (my preferred choice) driving into the heart of the beast and promising that we'll roll back the tax breaks that Liberals and Conservatives used to bankrupt us in the first place.

And the last lesson is to learn from how Dexter got elected in the first place. He did sell people that the NDP would actually be different, and he did it over the course of several campaigns instead of a single race.

Ken Burch

Lens Solution wrote:

 

So the key is to find out how to appeal to voters without giving up too much of what the party stands for or become too similiar to the other parties.

Well, it seems likely that the best approach is to assume that the reason voters switched from the Liberals and the Bloc to the NDP was that they really DID want the NDP to be different...to stand for something other than the parties they had backed stood for. 

Voters don't switch from party to party in the hopes of preserving the status quo.  They stay with the SAME party if they want that.

The NDP needs to work from the assumption that ALL who vote for it really do want change...and major change at that.

Otherwise, the party will paralyze itself, as it did in Ontario in the 1990's and Nova Scotia for the last four years.  And the voters will always turn away from the party if it does parlalyze itself.

Aristotleded24

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:
So a tangential lesson, if the media points to a growing debt and demands the neoliberal solution that makes things worse, the NDP needs to come up with an intelligent alternative. Which, depending on who you ask, is dodging the issue, or (my preferred choice) driving into the heart of the beast and promising that we'll roll back the tax breaks that Liberals and Conservatives used to bankrupt us in the first place.

I think the key thing here is to be on top of the books. Point out, as best as the NDP can, that the books are actually in much worse shape. They also have to prepare ahead of time for the books being in much worse shape than everybody thought, as what happened when Rae took office in 1990 and when Eves was thrown from office in 2003. I'm sure that should the NDP win in 2015, that the books will show as having actually been in worse shape than what we think. So the NDP needs to tell people that no, unfortunately we don't have all the information we need and we won't until we've had a chance to examine the books, and there will be nasty surprises, but we will deal with it as it comes and we will protect the vital services and programs that you people depend on.

Lens Solution

The NDP already gets attacked as being fiscally irreponsible and is trying to show it will be in favour of balanced budgets and will not raise taxes.  In fact, last month in Saskatchewan at the NDP retreat, Mulcair went out of his way to say several times that he would not raise taxes.

I can understand why Mulcair wants to avoid the usual attacks against the NDP that it will raise taxes, but it risks looking defensive if he says it too many times.  So if the NDP then tells people that it won't know for sure what the economic status of the country is until it gets a full look at the books, Harper will probably take that opening to portray the NDP as not being up front about its economic intentions.

So it's a delicate balancing act.

Aristotleded24

The strategy of repeating that the NDP won't raise taxes won't work, because you will always have the right-wing talking points about how overtaxed everybody is under the NDP. This is what we see in Manitoba, even though the government has actually cut business and corporate taxes. Far better would be to do what Andrea Horwath did and make the case as to why taxes need to go up. She made herself the most popular politician in Ontario with that move, and it would also give the NDP political captial after the election to say, "things are much worse than we expected, so we have to ask those with means to pay more and help us out."

mark_alfred

Again I feel a certain deja vu.  The NDP leadership campaign went over this, with Topp advocating the approach of a greater focus on fair taxation, and Mulcair advocating focusing on the role of a strong economy via environmental sustainability (while maintaining the NDP's current stance on fair taxation).  Mulcair won, and seems to be doing okay.

Anyway, I haven't a clue what lessons the feds should take from Nova Scotia.

socialdemocrati...

I'm with Aristotled.

No matter how much people hate taxes, no matter how cautious you might seem by coming out against taxes... The media and the right wing parties are always going to paint the NDP as tax-and-spend socialists.

It would be different if the Conservatives were trying in good faith to balance the budget. Then you can focus on spending, with corporate tax increases to pay for new priorities.

But with massive debts and deficits compounded by global austerity and corporate tax giveaways... people are going to have an eye on the federal debt. And the NDP going to need to have a plan. And the only credible plan for ANY government is going to involve a tax increase, unless you want to shred the social safety net and send the economy in a downward spiral.

Even more credible that it comes from the NDP. Not that they've proposed anything but personal tax freezes for the past 25+ years. But when you're up against two parties that have destroyed the federal budget through tax giveaways, and you're supposed to be the social democratic alternative, there's something to be said for standing tall. And yes, it IS working for Horwath, in Ontario where all the banks are.

paolo

..debt / the legitimacy of debt is an important subject. it will define the ndp role in a neoliberal state.
The Making of the Indebted State under Neoliberalism

It is often said that money begets power, but if this is so, through what exact mechanisms does the “1 percent” exert its seemingly untrammeled political influence over the state? Drawing on recent interdisciplinary attempts to re-conceptualize money as debt and debt as a power relation, this paper aims to help uncover the disciplinary mechanism that enforces debtor compliance and ensures continued repayment. Most importantly, it argues that – much more than just buying political influence with their superior wealth – private bankers derive their main power from their control over capital flows and their capacity to create money out of thin air. Identifying two types of money (commodity money and credit money) and two associated forms of power (purchasing power and structural power), it tries to show how the neoliberal move towards privately created credit money has endowed global finance with unprecedented structural power, rendering states increasingly dependent on private banks to maintain the process of capital accumulation. The paper concludes that the making of the indebted state under neoliberalism has brought about an unraveling of state sovereignty and political representation, and hence poses a major challenge to traditional democratic processes.

http://roarmag.org/2013/09/the-making-of-the-indebted-state-under-neolib...

janfromthebruce

 

another take away, is about balancing the budget and not doing deficit budgeting if possible to ensure one doesn't have to cut programs and services. As stated

Justin Ling ‏@Justin_Ling 4m

So @Tim_Bousquet has an interesting piece on the election in The Coast. Things I'm learning: 10% of NS' budget goes to serving debt #nspoli

So balancing a budget and lower debt is important. It's a two pronge approach where if you have increased revenues you can bring down your debt faster. And 10% of the budget going to service debt is huge and is not surprise why Dexter tried to do this.

Unionist

janfromthebruce wrote:
And 10% of the budget going to service debt is huge and is not surprise why Dexter tried to do this.

Agreed. I wasn't surprised at all.

 

socialdemocrati...

I have to say, I used to be less concerned with debt until I heard old speeches from Tommy Douglas about how bankers can leverage those debts into power and influence. You only have to look at Bob Rae's NDP government in the 1990s to know how the banks will tie your hands and push you off a cliff.

janfromthebruce

Debt and deficit become an issue when used to cut important programs and services to people. Back in 1997, the federal liberals cut transfer payments to provinces, cut social spending and healthcare spending to service the debt. It was irrelevant that these programs or services (social spending) did not cause the debt/deficit as their actual costs, factoring in inflation did not cause the original debt.

As usual, it was suggesting that we could no longer afford these programs or their costs.

Hence why Linda McQuaig wrote the best selling book, Shooting the Hippo: Death by Deficit and Other Canadian Myths

I'll get bk to the point I want to make in a sec but here's a post from that link:

Decidedly left wing, Linda McQuaig's greatest strength is to decompose the narratives of the right in Canada. The strength of this book isn't that it presents a bold alternative, but it lets one understand how the right managed to construct a 'crisis' around Canada's federal deficit where the actual situation wasn't as bad as they claimed. An interesting read, even if a little dated now.

What's interesting about the post is that remember what govt was in power when all that chopping was going on - "the right"! And that right-wing govt was the Chretien Liberal govt with Paul Martin as Minister of Finance. Just a reminder that Liberals are not progressive. 

Now back to the point at hand: Debt and deficit has always been used by non progressive govts to chop social spending and programs that promote well-being and are important to ordinary Canadians. When financing that debt begins to be a big part of your costs of running govt, it's a huge problem because it prevents you from providing programs and services people want and depend on and acts to deter one from providing additional ones. And as mentioned the banks (money lenders) get to own you and tell you how you will or will not spend the money.

But let's leave the last word (and recent) one to McQuaig in They shoot baby hippos, don’t they? (published on July 2 2012)

Meanwhile, at the federal level, the Harper government has just taken away two years of retirement benefits from millions of Canadians, with its decision to raise the entitlement age (starting in 2023) to 67. Harper never hinted at this major change during the last election campaign, but now insists it’s essential to keep government finances solvent — a claim that Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page has dismissed as “silly.”

Ottawa also cited fiscal necessity last March in announcing an additional $5.2 billion in spending cuts. But Canada’s finances aren’t in trouble. Indeed, IMF data — prepared before Ottawa announced the $5.2 billion in cuts — shows Canada’s net debt-to-GDP ratio is just 32 per cent — the lowest in the G7, and projected to remain the lowest through 2016.

The Harperites argue that Canada’s low debt level is due to Ottawa’s fiscal restraint, and insist the further cutbacks are necessary to avoid the debt problems plaguing Europe, with its high social spending. But the European countries that face serious debt problems — Greece, Spain, Italy — have never been big social spenders.

The big social spenders are the northern European nations, particularly the Nordic countries, yet they have even lower debt levels than Canada. Indeed, the IMF data show that Sweden, Norway and Finland all have net surplus-to-GDP ratios.

Now Dexter hasn't been doing austerity screeching but realized that to be able to afford social democratic type services and supports, one had get the "structural deficit" under control which was created by previous Conservative and Liberal govts.

And here Linda does add caution:

Of course, governments should never risk adding to the national debt by spending on frivolous items — like unneeded, overpriced military hardware. But investing in the well-being and development of Canadians isn’t frivolous. And Canada (and Ontario) are far from any sort of debt crisis.

And I have been following the Dextor govt these past 4 years, where they tried to get rid of the deficit and structural problems by reining spending and by trying to put money towards increasing tax revenues - investing in businesses which would create jobs for people who in turn could pay taxes and thus pay for social spending for "human betterment".

KenS

Its not an either/or black or white thing about debt. And dealing or not dealing with debt is not the lesson.

Assuming that the NDP govt had to take some kind of fiscal action, which the previous government had ducked, tells us nothing either way.

It is both what the Dexter government did, and how they went about it, that is the problem.

Every NDP government or government in waiting MUST take proactive steps to deal with the 'tax and spend' image. And the facile leftie solution of lecturing people that they get net benefits from higher taxes is a pipe dream.

The problem with the Dexter crowd is that 'responsible fiscal mamagement' became an end in itself. They couldnt get enough of it.

To make matters worse, they hid their central agenda. They decided at least two years before they brought it up for 'discussion' that the NDP had to reverse the 2% increase of the HST- even though there was a broad concensus cutting across ideological lines that taxes had to be increased. So while they were talking the talk that the cuts were driven solely by balancing the budget... the pacing of the depth of the cuts was geared to being able to cut the HST before the then years off election.

That is unequivocally bad faith with the NDP's base. The depth of cuts was being sold to us as a necessity for balancing the budget, while all along the planning was about balancing the budget AND cutting taxes.

And it bit the NDP bad even though most people dont know about this scam. Even without them seeing all the movements of the puppeteer, the Dexter governments actions showed the NDP as not really any different. All people had to do is look at what was coming out of the pipe. We tied ourselves up in knots.

We put all of our eggs in the 'better managers' basket. The bulk of the media commentators even agreed. And what did it get the NDP?

Stephen MacNeill and the Liberals- who very likely will be LESS competent as fiscal managers- get named overwhelmingly as the best managers of the economy.

KenS

janfromthebruce wrote:

 When financing that debt begins to be a big part of your costs of running govt, it's a huge problem because it prevents you from providing programs and services people want and depend on and acts to deter one from providing additional ones. And as mentioned the banks (money lenders) get to own you and tell you how you will or will not spend the money.

The point is real, but it gets used like it is some kind of talisman.

A.] The Nova Scotia debt is NOT outsized. The total amount of the debt was not the problem.

B.] The problem was the structural deficit- that year after year expenses exceed revenues.... and that all the trends are that without being addressed, the problem gets worse.

Get rid of the annual deficit, and the debt accumulated over years becomes managable. [Stick to balanced budgets and the accumulated debt will pay down fairly easily and quickly.]

The Dexter government did have to both raise taxes and cut spending. So that was not a betrayal of trust 

The betrayal of trust came with hiding the future tax cuts they wanted to have in the Trojan Horse of "balancing the budget". Balancing the budget was the reason we accepted cuts, but the cuts went deeper so they could pay for their tax cut.

Cutting taxes makes balancing the budget more difficult, let alone that it violates social democratic principles when the way to pay for the tax cuts is deeper spending cuts... which here were primarily in education.

KenS

janfromthebruce wrote:

Now Dexter hasn't been doing austerity screeching but realized that to be able to afford social democratic type services and supports, one had get the "structural deficit" under control which was created by previous Conservative and Liberal govts.

And I have been following the Dextor govt these past 4 years, where they tried to get rid of the deficit and structural problems by reining spending and by trying to put money towards increasing tax revenues - investing in businesses which would create jobs for people who in turn could pay taxes and thus pay for social spending for "human betterment".

Back away from that Kool Aid people. It is laced.

This is 100% bogus.

The structural deficit was caused under the watch of the previous government. They leat spending rise rapidly with revenue increases that were very ephemeral. And did nothing when that became obvious.

But if it was all about the structural deficit the Dexter government would never have talked tax cuts- that no one was expecting from us!

Dexter in the end got hoisted on his petard. Because the tax cuts were not possible even with their deep spending cuts. [The Liberals have already said they will recind the NDP tax cuts. A returned NDP government would also have had to.]

The education cuts would not have been anywhere near so severe had they been spread out over 3 years instead of two.

And the alternative of manipulating and lying has worked so well.

janfromthebruce

Just a question for you Ken but like most provinces, did not the number of students con't to decrease, in other words, student enrolment has been steadily declining for the past ten years or so? I'll leave that to you to explain but considering that the overall number of students declining is not limited to just Nova Scotia.

That aside, let's walk down the Liberal road of days gone by: Paul Martin: He has a record

KenS

Besides blaming the teacher cuts on school board 'priorities' [like survival], the other constant spin point is that "there are no layoffs of teachers".

Because of the huge number of boomer retirements, that is true. But classroom teacher positions are cut.

Besides what that does to the quality of education, it means that there is virtually no hope of jobs for new graduates, unless you tach Frenc and Math.

So we spend huge sums of money to buy jobs at the Irving Shipyards, that might several years from now keep a few people in jobs that cost more than teachers, while we send young teachers down the road to Alberta or Texas.

Did someone say something about increasing tax revenues by "creating" good jobs?

KenS

Jan, cut the crap about the Liberals do it too. Tell me, does that make it acceptable?

And make the case that it is somehow politically necessary. Should be feasible: I'm a pragmatist.

To answer your question about declining enrollments. Its more laced Kool Aid from the Dexter crucibile.

Enrollements are declining. But cuts in teacher positions were 2 to 3 times in 2011 and 2012 what is accounted for by enrollment declines. [Like I said, a bit of a pause was taken for this election year.]

Plus, a lot of the expansion of the system is because of provincially required increases in services mandated over the last 10-15 years. The Dexter government refused to let the school boards touch those. So funding cuts had to come out of the biggest item: classroom teachers. While the government claims that is the school boards choice.

Slick.

KenS

"Investing in businesses" may be defensible. It may even be necessary. But thats pure hogwash that it will make a difference in budget cycles we are woking in. IF it ever increases tax revenues, it is not during the relevant budget cycles.

Ditto for the hogwash Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald has been ladling lately: that the HST tax cuts will be compensated for by growth increasing tax revenues. IF there is any revenue tax increases from growth, that remains to be seen, and is not in the budget projections by the way. The tax revenues we get two or three years from now- if they come- MIGHT [eventually] fill the $160 million then $320 million per year hole from the legislated tax HST tax cuts.

But those new revenue holes from the tax cuts definitely, not maybe, start in 6 months. So guess how the shortfall would be covered? The only way it can be covered: new additional spending cuts to essential services on top of the pain we already went through. [But we took a one year break since this is an election year.]

This is not only "wrong headed". The cynicism is grotesque.

socialdemocrati...

KenS, maybe you can tell me, or someone also more well-versed in NS politics. I thought the HST had become a toxic issue out there before the Dexter government. Wasn't the Dexter government was elected in part because the previous government had brought in the HST? Or am I thinking of another province.

The other question -- you mean to tell me that after the NDP cut the HST, the Liberals are promising to raise the HST back up, AND they're winning by 20+ points?

 

1springgarden

Balancing the budget was essential for the NDP after decades of Conservative and Liberal deficits.  Elected in 2009 in the depths of a recession, the Dexter NDP finally managed to present a balanced budget for 2013.  However, many Nova Scotians don't believe the numbers will come in as balanced by the end of next March, so there remains a credibility problem for the NDP with this balanced budget -- they should have balanced it a year earlier to have had the numbers come in and have proved something.

Also, Dexter's idea of cutting the HST from 15% to 13% pissed off the NDP base, because that money is not about to otherwise appear from income tax growth or resource royalties, transfers etc. -- it implies austerity and service cuts.  The base was willing to prioritize a balanced budget, but then the HST cut demonstrated just how far back their priorities really were with the Dexter government.  Even the Liberals are smart enough to campaign this election on NOT cutting the HST.

Another problem is that Dexter and his advisors maintained tight control over NDP policies to the point that it inhibited ministerial creativity and the development of bench strength -- this election it's Dexter vs the other two parties and given Dexter's low approval numbers for a considerable time now, it's a losing battle.  An example of an area the NDP could have benefitted from a stronger policy presence is arts policy and this would have been popular, and is something the Liberals are now campaigning on to their benefit.

The one thing Dexter can say with his tight policy control and narrow focus is "I did it my way".  For the base of the NDP I think it will be a relief that this phase is over and that a chance to possibly reclaim the party will soon arise.

Centrist

1springgarden wrote:
Balancing the budget was essential for the NDP after decades of Conservative and Liberal deficits.

I am being a devil`s advocate here, but prior to 2009, when the NDP formed government, according to the NS Ministry of Finance, NS not only had balanced budgets but also budget surpluses. Or am I missing something here...

[img]http://imageshack.com/a/img707/1401/yqna.jpg[/img]

NorthReport

The ndp needs to be the ndp not liberal

When offered the choice between liberal or quasi liberal voters will choose the real liberals almost all of the time

KenS

Thats interesting Centrist.

In NS we knew for a couple years ahead of time that the 10 year long upspike in gas royalties and federal transfer payments was ending and turning the other way. Both were known to be coming well before they happened.

My IMPRESSION that I carry from back them is that the PCs had been fiddling while Rome burned. If you had asked me I would have said that they had let deficits start accumulating. That must be essentially exagerated. They did do nothing while everyone knew the crash was coming... but apparently not for as long as I had thought, and not with deficits already happening.

At any rate, in 2009, the substantial structural deficit was already there. That 09/10 was the PC budget. Mind you, a substantial part of the NDP surplus the following year was accounting games to stick stuff back in 2009... But the last PC budget was dead on arrival without that help.

[With the non-tax revenue drops getting enough worse that the 2% HST increase only made up for part of the shortfall. The rest having to come from spending cuts and/or more tax increases that would have been instant political suicide. Going back on the promise of not raising taxes had been acceptable for the HST increase, given the circumstances. But more tax increases were a non starter.] 

1springgarden

Yes, much is obscured by that limited graph including the previous 10-20 years, the province's capital budgets and the privatization of Nova Scotia power ($5 billion asset sold off in 1992).  Deficit spending has been going on for a long time in Nova Scotia, leading to the province's $14 billion debt (about ~$14,000 per capita).

It is true that the John Hamm Progressive Conservative years in early 00s years featured balanced budgets, often possible due to of-the-time resource rent windfalls.

 

janfromthebruce

Here's a lesson - whatever the federal NDP do don't reduce the rate of poverty and earn points for doing the best ever! Heaven forbid that would happen.

Number of Nova Scotians Living in Poverty Declining

The number of Nova Scotians living in poverty is at its lowest level in decades.

The number of people with low incomes dropped by more than 7,000 to 64,000 in 2011, a decrease of 10 per cent over 2010, according to Statistics Canada.

That means about seven per cent of the population is considered to be living in poverty. This is the lowest percentage of low-income Nova Scotians on record.

 

KenS

Canadian income data 'is garbage' without census, experts say

And it has the most dramatic effect with low income households.

And you should not need that reality check. If you and the NDP inner sanctum were not so desperate, you would know off the top of your head that low income households just dont drop 10% in a year.

Canada’s voluntary census is worthless. Here’s why

 

 

socialdemocrati...

As much as I think it was a mistake, he lowered the HST. After he raised it. After he promised he wouldn't raise it. That tells a bigger story.

He pissed off the people who hate taxes by raising them. And then by lowering them, he pissed off the people who had accepted the taxes for protecting the safety net. And by zigzagging back and forth, he eroded his trust with people, multiple times. He turned his reputation into swiss cheese.

Maybe it's as simple as that. He really tried to have it both ways and ended up pissing off everyone.

1springgarden

I think the NDP should have done something dramatic to polarize the electorate, like hire Cuban doctors to address the doctor shortage in small-town health clinics.  Supposedly this could be done but is said to be 'not politically viable'.  This would give a lot of people something to take a position on, instead of the 'meh' response the NDP got by zig-zagging left and right. 

A lot of people were looking for an alternative to the Liberal and Conservative governments, maybe voters were disappointed that the NDP were not so different from previous Blue and Red team governments.

Or Public Auto Insurance (even an election promise) would have done the trick to polarize the electorate and possibly win the election.

1springgarden

double post

Centrist

Again. I`m stumped. The Manitoba NDP eliminated the corporate capital tax and reduced corporate tax rates to the same level as other right-wing provincial governments. The Manitoba NDP also increased corporate tax credits to boot.

I am sure that the Manitoba NDP has infuriated a considerable portion of its base as a result of these and other measures, yet the Manitoba NDP has won 4 straight provincial elections, which is unheard of!

Even federal Conservative voters in Winnipeg vote for the provincial NDP - the Manitoba NDP is considered moderate and has increased its political tent as a result, so to speak. That`s why the MB NDP wins provincial seats where the federal Cons win the same over-lapping federal seats in Winnipeg.

I was under the impression that the Dexter NDP has followed suit in NS and was also on the same trajectory and template as the Manitoba NDP. So what has really happened? I am at a loss for words frankly!

KenS

The Prarie New Democrat 'how to govern'- which the NSNDP took wholeheatedly as its own- turns out to have had a very important caveat, that no one noticed until it bit.

The prototype was the classic Saskatchewan NDP. When people dont love you, they vote for you anyway, because you are the most competent.  A lot of the base whines, some if it gets really angry.

 The unoticed caveat is that it works as long as there is only self-destructive opposition parties.

The model for winning and staying in government is broken in its birthplace.

It still works in Manitoba. But look at the opposition.

And having opposition parties that just dont know what they are doing was short lived in Nova Scotia.

Aristotleded24

Centrist wrote:
Again. I`m stumped. The Manitoba NDP eliminated the corporate capital tax and reduced corporate tax rates to the same level as other right-wing provincial governments. The Manitoba NDP also increased corporate tax credits to boot. I am sure that the Manitoba NDP has infuriated a considerable portion of its base as a result of these and other measures, yet the Manitoba NDP has won 4 straight provincial elections, which is unheard of! Even federal Conservative voters in Winnipeg vote for the provincial NDP - the Manitoba NDP is considered moderate and has increased its political tent as a result, so to speak. That`s why the MB NDP wins provincial seats where the federal Cons win the same over-lapping federal seats in Winnipeg. I was under the impression that the Dexter NDP has followed suit in NS and was also on the same trajectory and template as the Manitoba NDP. So what has really happened? I am at a loss for words frankly!

[url=http://rabble.ca/babble/atlantic-provinces/nova-scotia-election-drumbeat... here:[/url]

Quote:
For one, the NDP came to power in 1999 when the Third Way was really gaining momentum among social democratic parties. The other key factor is that the NDP in Manitoba has never faced a competent opposition party, and the Manitoba PCs are very adept at losing elections that are theirs to win. The NDP in Manitoba for about a year before the 2011 election been consistently polling behind the PCs, but the PCs ran a very poor campaign and lost an election they should have won.

Of course, Manitoba was presented as a template for how to the NDP should win elections, and the Nova Scotia NDP went down that path. While the Nova Scotia NDP was on this path, the 2008 financial meltdown completely discredited the notion of the Third Way, but the Nova Scotia section of the NDP was already too far along this path to seriously turn away by the time 2009 came around. The real unsung story of the 2009 election was the unpopularity of the PC government of Rodney McDonald, who led his party from government to third place, and of course, the NDP as the Official Opposition was naturally able to capitalize on that.

KenS

Following up on my point two comments back.....  there was some really willful stupidity in the Dexter Cockpit.

But that takes a long time to explain, and when it comes down to it, its a unique factor.... and I dont think the most decisive one.

I think there is plenty of material from the NS experience, that is fodder for lessons because it is not unique.

And the breakdown of the Prarie New Democrat cruise control governing is one of them. Though it would never even get off the ground in BC or Ontario for example, and I dont see it ever having any traction federaly.

KenS

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

As much as I think it was a mistake, he lowered the HST. After he raised it. After he promised he wouldn't raise it. That tells a bigger story.

He pissed off the people who hate taxes by raising them.

Maybe it's as simple as that. He really tried to have it both ways and ended up pissing off everyone.

Its actually simpler than that. 

 

Before and during the election the NDP promised no tax increases. We know the fisal situation is not good, but no tax increases. Period. They handled very adroitly going back on that promise. There was a broad consensus that a substantial tax increase really was necessary. The media saw it as a good move, and things stayed that way. Well done. [The media has still not turned on Dexter.]

But way back at the beginning Cockpit Control [which was and is 3-4 people] decided that removing the tax increase by the next election was a political necessity. Let alone not consulting about that, they appear to have paid attention to the stability of the assumed consensus that tax increase was here to stay.

socialdemocrati...

If NDP strategists are secretly talking about the Western NDP in the 80s and 90s as a model of electoral success, then we're already in huge trouble. What scares me is it makes a ton of sense. The cautious messages about competent management. The dismissive messages about the other parties. Even if they're not going full Tony Blair, and they're willing to pay for more social programs through higher taxes, the electorate doesn't want the NDP to brag about its competence. That's the domain of the other parties. If the NDP is going to win, it's going to be as a reform (small-r) party.

 

Skinny Dipper

Hopefully, I am not repeating myself.  I do think that Tom Mulcair will run a different campaign than the previous NDP leaders had run.  I do think that he will campaign greatly on the economy and jobs.  He will also downplay health care and the environment--the usual NDP priorities.  It doesn't mean that he won't talk about those two issues.  However, he will have them framed within an economic platform.

I think, currently, Tom Mulcair is touring Canada in order to maintain his base support.  He is going around the country to talk about abolishing the Senate, electoral reform, the Tar (Oil) Sands, and pipelines.  I do expect him to change his sails so that he will run a federal campaign on the economy once the election period has officially started.

I don't think Mr. Mulcair is worried that the NDP is currently behind the Liberals in the polls.  I do think that he is holding his cards tightly against his chest.  He'll play is best cards when the time is right.

KenS

The NSNDP government did not only frame this election campaign around jobs and the economy, they have been framing government around selling themselves as THE jobs and the economy government since Day 1.

That was the motivation behind putting so much behind the Irving Shipyard contracts, and around promising the HST cuts.

The latter that we have been talking about here "only" angered the base. I dont think that most voters pay it much attention, they just dont really believe it. But even issues that dont cause serious problems with a lot of voters, 'mere' disbelief is a contributing factor to slippage of confidence.

And the Irving deal- that is the gift that keeps giving for the Liberals.

There are more elements to the focus on jobs and the economy. And they were all conceived of and put out there in ways typical in the NDP.

To say only that they did not work is a big understatement.

mark_alfred

Even if the NDP loses, it seems that the perception is that they helped fix some things that had previously been broken in the province, even if they hadn't fully lived up to expectations and/or annoyed some in the process.  That's different from the (somewhat unfair) perception of the Rae NDP in Ontario, where the perception was that they had broken things.  So, I think the NDP will remain a contender for the future in Nova Scotia even if they aren't re-elected this time.  Hopefully the polls are wrong and they will be re-elected.

KenS

Stranger things have happened. There is the long shot they might be re-elected.

But one thng for sure, it isnt as mild as "did not live up to expectations" "prefer someone else."

They have pissed people off. It is small consolation that it isnt the same as in Ontario, that the NDP not getting blamed as screw-ups. So maybe we'll only wander in the wilderness for 10 years, instead of 20.

When people are pissed off at you enough that they make a point of withdrawing having giving you a chance, we are going to have to be fortunate and lucky and together to come back and make a go of it in just a few years. And the togetherness is in rather short supply- hadbeen for years before the wheels recently and obviously came off the wagon.

KenS

Have voters been "fair" with the NDP? Maybe not.

Do they hold us to a higher standard? Well, yes.

[And thats a problem??] We definitely benefit from that, on the ride up. So whats the whining- which there has been a LOT of- when we get the other side of the coin?

Ultimately, if the voters have not been fair, whose problem is that?

 

And personaly, I think people have essentially been fair, a goodly dose of crankiness thrown in notwithstanding.

Maybe Nova Scotians are people who take the overall promise the NDP holds out more at face value. With the letdwon being more serious.

We polled for years on the road to winning government with very high numbers on integrity. And the image of Darrel Dexter was built on and around that. I think it more accurate to say not that was the "expectation" of is- it was so solid that it was assumed about us.

And it was wantonly squandered.

 

socialdemocrati...

Yeah, I think there might be some consolation in that the Nova Scotia NDP didn't oversee a catastrophic flame out. If only because of timing. They came in around 2009, a year or two after things went to hell. Bob Rae came into power just as things were going to hell. The Nova Scotia NDP will go back to being the official opposition instead of a third party, and that gives them time to sharpen the sword and define how their government will be better than the Liberals.

But I'm starting to buy the lesson that "the economy" isn't everything.

The thing that started to pull people towards the NDP over the past few years was actually health care. Not to say that it's everything, but it was the beachhead. Polls started to consistently say that they trusted the NDP the most to protect the Canadian health care system. Then other ideas followed: people just trusted the NDP more than the other two parties period, even if they polled less than the others on the economy.

I personally believe the economy IS the number one issue, with all that encapsulates -- not just growth, but also jobs, wages, and valued services. And because of that, I think the "growth + trickle down" attitude of the Liberals and Conservatives makes them poor economic managers, not to mention their history of huge debts. I don't think we choose between a fairer society and economic growth -- I think they're now one and the same.

That's not how other people see it. We can fight it to an extent. But the NDP needs to press its real advantage on the moral high ground, and win on a more holistic message. Yes, the NDP will be a good government that cares about jobs, but a fairer society is a necessary part of that.

KenS

I think that after the NDP strength in integrity- who do you trust- the most important issue may well be jobs and the economy, no matter how much people say they prefer the NDP around health care.

But if you piss people off when you torch your strength in their trust in you, turning on you is rather predicatble.

[Predicted as well as predictable.]

KenS

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

The thing that started to pull people towards the NDP over the past few years was actually health care. Not to say that it's everything, but it was the beachhead.

I dont think that is actually true.

From all of our internal polling for years before getting government, integrity was overwhelmingly our biggest 'asset' here. And I think That may be more true than is realized elsewhere, including federaly. [where we have not been govt yet Wink]

'Integrity' is not a question in public polls. And who do you trust most is always hooked to a particular issue, which is not the same thing at all as 'who do you trust the most?'

The NSNDP was all for using that asset. But not for protecting it. No stewardship. [Actually the opposite.]

Dexter and company may have been particularly bad stewards compared to the NDP elsewhere, but it is a problem across the board.

I'm not talking about living up to the expectations of the base. That may not be possible. Stewardship implies that you can't do it all. But it still means wise choices in the face of difficulties.

Skinny Dipper

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

I personally believe the economy IS the number one issue, with all that encapsulates -- not just growth, but also jobs, wages, and valued services. And because of that, I think the "growth + trickle down" attitude of the Liberals and Conservatives makes them poor economic managers, not to mention their history of huge debts. I don't think we choose between a fairer society and economic growth -- I think they're now one and the same.

That's not how other people see it. We can fight it to an extent. But the NDP needs to press its real advantage on the moral high ground, and win on a more holistic message. Yes, the NDP will be a good government that cares about jobs, but a fairer society is a necessary part of that.

I will agree with your points highlighted above.  I do think that the NDP can campaign on a theme of "a better economy and fairer society."

One of the things that former prime minister Jean Chrétien was able to do was campaign on his weaknesses.  His opposition tried to frame him as a weak leader when he first ran as the Liberal leader.  He played up his leadership skills.  His face appeared on Liberal posters.

The NDP is very strong on the environment and health care.  This is just my own feeling, but the party is likely perceive by Canadians as being weaker on the economy than the other parties.  This may not actually be true as we have had provincial NDP governments run budget surpluses (or at least reduced the deficit from previous governments).  However, perceptions still exist.  I do think that Tom Mulcair will campaign the NDP's perceived weakness on economic issues and make the weakness into a strength.  I do think that the environment and health care will still be mentioned by Tom Mulcair.  However, these will likely become issues 2 and 3 (or 3 and 2).

I would love for Mr. Mulcair to mention voting reform in the next campaign.  I am realistic enough to know that it won't be issue number 1.  I would be happy if it becomes issue number 5 or 7 under the heading of democratic renewal.  If we like the system of one-man government, if we like how Harper operates--one man against the Canadian people--then we can stick with the current voting system.  If we want a democratic voting system that includes all Canadians, then support the NDP.   That is a framing example.

socialdemocrati...

Yeah, I think even preceding the polls that said "we trust the federal NDP on this issue" is an underlying mood that "we trust the federal NDP" -- although it's not the same thing as asking "which leader do you trust the most", which still has a lot of other ideas attached to it (we trust and agree with them). I think the NDP built up a reputation of trust that couldn't be detected by polls until it started to translate into specific wins.

The NDP has a reputation for telling it like it is -- to a fault. Mulcair actually falls into that tradition quite nicely, like telling Quebeckers that he supports a hydro project in Labrador, or telling oil tycoons in Calgary about the Dutch Disease, or telling corporate audiences that trade has to be fair trade.

The thing about telling inconvenient truths is you can piss people off. Take taxes. I'm confident that we need a tax on the superwealthy to be able to balance the budget and pay for social programs. But I can respect Mulcair's view, because at least he supports a repeal of the corporate tax giveaways under the Conservatives and Liberals. But there are progressives who see his refusal to tax the superwealthy as the ultimate sellout. And there are other people who hate all taxes, and see his corporate tax increase as a dealbreaker. And Mulcair isn't going to change his view. He's going to keep repeating it to critics on both sides, and potentially polarize them more.

There's a risk there, but I think people are missing the demonstration of character and integrity here. Especially compared to Trudeau. A guy who has sees Alberta as this caraciture, and slams Alberta while he's in Quebec, then turns around with these weird panders about oil and guns. A guy who's pro-environment when he's talking to environmentalists, and pro-oil when he's talking to oil investors. 

When the public still doesn't really know Mulcair any better than they did last year, there's still a chance to show the public his record of being a straight-shooter. Which would simultaneously remind people of the NDP's history of straight shooting. That's not spin. That's literally the only reason why anyone would join a party that -- up until 2011 -- seemed to have no chance at forming a government.

We can't take that reputation for granted. We have to remind people.

kropotkin1951

KenS wrote:

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

The thing that started to pull people towards the NDP over the past few years was actually health care. Not to say that it's everything, but it was the beachhead.

I dont think that is actually true.

From all of our internal polling for years before getting government, integrity was overwhelmingly our biggest 'asset' here. And I think That may be more true than is realized elsewhere, including federaly.

The BC NDP crashed and burned on integrity. Dix's frozen in the headlights response to the questions about his memo backdating was the end of the campaign for the party. Saying I was only 35 when I screwed up is not good enough. When you couple that with Moe Sihota as the Pres, with his lack of integrity, the NDP got hammered.

Of course we all know that the government was far more corrupt than anything the NDP ever did but that is not what was played over and over ever day on the most popular radio stations.

David Young

Pollsters said that the Ontario Liberals would win another provincial majority...wrong!

Pollsters said that the P.Q. would win a majority in Quebec...wrong!

Pollsters said that the WildRose Party would take power in Alberta...wrong!

Pollsters said that the Liberals would lose power in B.C...wrong!

Pollsters said that the N.D.P. wouldn't win more than a few seats in Quebec in the 2011 federal election...wrong!

Let's wait and see what happens after the voters have their say on Tuesday, shall we?

 

mark_alfred

Good advice.

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