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Paul Manly and 'today's NDP'

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Introducing Paul Manly: son of former NDP MP Jim Manly, and a candidate for the NDP nomination for the B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith, hoping to run in the 2015 election. But his candidacy has been vetoed by the federal office, without a written explanation. He was told over the telephone, however, that it was because of things he had said at the time of his father's detention by Israel in 2012. The conclusions we are forced to draw from this are ugly indeed.

It would be hard to improve on blogger Alison's post about the Paul Manly affair. She sets out the whole story: who Paul is, his long and impressive record of service -- he's been an NDPer since he was sixteen, stumping with Tommy Douglas -- and the circumstances of his political death. But much of this bears repeating.

In 2012, former NDP MP Jim Manly, Paul's father, set out on one of those humanitarian voyages to Gaza that the media like to scoff at. The vessel, the Estelle, was seized in international waters by Israel, and he ended up in an Israeli prison. He was released only after signing, under duress, a document in which he was forced to "admit" that he had entered Israel illegally. Given that his kidnapping was illegal under international law (there’s a long legal analysis of the blockade issue here, sparked by an earlier incident), there might have been, after all, some ironic satisfaction in so doing. But otherwise, the deportation waiver he signed was a nonsense -- like someone marched across a street at gunpoint being subsequently charged with jaywalking.

Paul was obviously upset by his father's detention, and had much to say at the time. Obviously he was sympathetic to the Gaza venture: but he was also angry with the federal NDP caucus, who were stuck on mute, refusing to stand up for an erstwhile colleague. He felt betrayed, and it showed. He said the NDP had "lost its way." He said that Deputy Leader Libby Davies, once outspoken on Middle East issues, had been muzzled -- a not unreasonable assumption given her deafening silence on the topic since Tom Mulcair assumed the leadership.

The party brass don't like that kind of talk.

Paul, of course, was concerned about his dad, and he was frustrated by the silence of his party's caucus, and he spoke out as any son would. Now he's paying the price for that, and for daring to support, as his father does, the inmates of that open-air prison called Gaza, presently under aerial bombardment again by the way.

As Alison points out, this travesty flies in the face of pious assurances from NDP National Director Anne McGrath less than four months ago that nominations would be an open process. Instead we have the same old autocratic interference in local races that the other parties indulge in, and for which they have been rightly criticized.

Not only the process, but the motives in this case, simply reek. It's all about Israel again, that radioactive topic, that elephant in the room trampling the guests. Tom Mulcair is, simply put, an Israel-right-or-wrong kind of guy. And in "today’s NDP," his word is law: mess with him, and you're out on your ear. Party democracy? Grassroots preferences? Fugeddaboutit.

Manly is a casualty of the current NDP's bad politics, not unmixed with cowardice, and of a rigged process, one that pretends to be open until it isn't. He's not likely to be the last, either. The mould is truly on the orange, and it continues to spread.

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