The NDP can now learn from the Liberals

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Sean in Ottawa
The NDP can now learn from the Liberals

For years the Liberals had nothing to offer the NDP in terms of experience or comparisons. There used to be two natural governing parties in Canada (Liberals used to embrace the idea that there was only one and in spite of their success that was never the case- they were just the stronger of two).

This duality meant that whichever party was in opposition only had to prove the other was deficient in order to wear the mantle of governance. Today, the traditional weakling of that former duality has emerged not only the stronger but the only natural governing party.

Jeffrey Simpson speaks about the fact that the Liberals used to stand for somethign but don't anymore. http://tinyurl.com/y8pccco.

That may be debatable. I would argue that there was a time when the Liberal party not standing for something did not matter. They could defeat the Liberals in the way they were defeated simply by proving the current government was not performing up to snuff. That was because they were a natural governing party with the presumption of an ability to rule.

Now only the Conservatives hold that presumption (misplaced but a fact nonetheless). The cumulative damage of the Sponsorship scandal, the poor election campaign of 2008 and a leader that did not become PM, means that the Liberals are not presumed to be government ready. They are now effectively in the same boat as New Democrats and competing with them, perhaps for the first time for the role of alternative government. They have to earn their place. (I could argue that the Liberals once were briefly in this same position in the late 1980s early 1990s. They broke out of it with the Red Book that reasserted themselves as a governing option.)

Now the Liberals for the first time since 1993, actually have to stand for something in order to be elected.

Now their problems and their experiences and their solutions are relevant to New Democrats. I say this because what used to work for the Liberals would not work for the NDP because it used to be if you defeated the Conservatives the Liberals would be elected (except for 1993). Now defeating the Conservatives will leave them elected, still, by default. People will vote for the Cons even if they are discredited until another party proves it has the ability to govern.

This is the reason negative advertising as a campaign mainstay works for a natural governing party but not for others. Now that the Liberals are not a default option, the Conservatives can keep them that way through negative advertising but Liberals cannot regain their former position through the same tactic -- just as the NDP cannot make significant headway that way.The NDP used to find it frustrating when the NDP would launch a hard hitting attack on the Cons only to see the Liberals benefit.

Turned off people hold their noses and vote the way they did, for a natural governing party, or stay home. Now, both the NDP and the Liberals have the challenge of showing why they should be the government and if neither one is able to do so the Conservatives will continue to win even as they become more unpopular.

Now, however, the NDP can look to what the Liberals do and learn from it for the first time because now they are in the same situation. And now of course Liberals can look to the NDP to see what works or does not work. But both parties should give up employing the tactics that have elected opposition parties in a time of two natural governing parties and start employing the tactics required to establish or re-establish their parties as governing options. Those are very different tactics. The NDP must avoid negative based campaigns (single negative ads in a positive based campaign can still work) until it can establish itself as a recognized option. Only then can the benefit from a campaign be picked up. Now the Liberals are in the same position. If the NDP can understand this, the NDP might be able to become the next recognized option with the Liberals running the negative campaigns that get New Dems elected.

Bottom line is: what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander. The NDP must figure this out before the Liberals do or the NDP will be once more outside looking in.

Pogo Pogo's picture

I have argued often that the NDP has two jobs.  First it has to discredit the government and then it has to show that it is the governing option.  Both have to be successful for the NDP to achieve great success.  I still think that the liberals are the close to a default second choice, the NDP has to climb into the 20% range over a period of time to be a legitimate default choice.  By default I mean a choice where people will go to the NDP with little knowledge of its platform, but simply because they have rejected their first choice.  Howver another disasterous campaign would maybe open the door for the NDP.

Sean in Ottawa

It is not polls that will establish the NDP as an alternative-- it is establishign the NDP as an alternative that is a prerequisite for the polls to go up. I think a lot of people have thsi backwards.

The NDP must in effect make a case before the people for governance-- it must find a way through the negative media to deliver its program. Very hard to do but that is the challenge.

I am not convinced that the NDP actually has to get involved in bashing the Cons-- other parties will do that anyway-- we might want to let the Liberals play that role and use our airspace to establish the option. Then we will pick up the value of the Liberal attack instead of them.

Put simply: the two campaigns are: The NDP must establish itself as an alternative and SOMEONE must bash the Cons. We do not have to do the second if the Liberals are doing enough of that. Rather than attacking the Liberals we might be better off out playing them in the competition to establish an alternative as that is an area they are having a hard time with. So I do not agree that the NDP must perform both jobs if others are already doing it. There is a cost to whomever goes on the negative and the Liberals have no choice so we might be able to avoid much of that -- except for some well placed attacks on issues the Liberals won't touch because they are not different enough. In other words I would as a strategy avoid any repetition of what the Liebrals are doing in terms of attacking teh government and save our space for the issues they are not touching that matter for us and a positive campaign of what we would do with the national government.

NorthReport

There is probably only one way the NDP will rise above 20% in the polls and that is if organized labour buy some media - the collapse of Canwest presents a golden opportunity and I hope Ken Georgetti is seriously looking at it.

Pogo Pogo's picture

Over 20% in the polls is one measure that the NDP as a brand is resonating with the voters.  There are other measures but it is pretty simple and accurate.

The NDP has to be a leader in the attack on Conservatives.  One basic reason is that West of Ontario the battle is NDP/Conservative pure and simple.  Secondly though part of being up for consideration is that the party is providing a critique of the current government.

The Mulroney/Turner/Broadbent free trade campaign showed clearly that being the clear leader on an attack attracts votes.  In the next election the issues will be jobs/economy/environment/open government.  On any of these issues the NDP has to be clear that it finds great fault in the Conservative record/platform, and that the NDP has a better alternative.  You have to consider the decision process of a voter.  If they receive information that pushes them away from a party, the source of that information by definition gains credibility.  The counter example is extreme negative advertising that can make the recipient angry at the provider even if they agree with the thrust of the ad.  Ad like these need to be used judiciously and sure it would be great if the Liberals were willing to carry the ball ("guns in our streets"), but it cannot be assume.

Jack Layton's speech today on proroguation was a great example.  In the first half he spoke about how undemocratic Harper is and how Canadians are speaking out against Harper.  He then followed it up with what the NDP plans (legislation taking the power out of the PM's hands). 

Sean in Ottawa

I am starting to believe that attacking alone does not drive votes away from a party but instead away, if anything from an election.

Unless you are already a default "natural governing party" you do not gain from lose votes and if there is no other natural governing party votes will go back reluctantly to the party you broke them away from.

People do not have to like who they vote for-- Harper proved that-- they just have to believe they will get an effective government from that party.

Broadbent is an example alright-- by far the most liked of the three but could not get out of third place. You need to convince people you can govern if you want more than 10-20% to vote for you. No matter how hard you bash the alternative-- you won't get the votes unless you establish that.

The NDP's problem is when the Liberals are considered the alternative, any NDP campaign to bash the government could disproportionately help them. The Liberals on the other hand don't have the same problem because if they can get the votes to leave the Cons they will flow only to them if they are the only natural alternative. What is happening now is the Liberals are losing that so even though people are angry with Harper for example his party is still clinging (barely) to the number one spot. To complete the deal you have to make people angry with the government AND give them a viable alternative. The NDP will soar if it can convince people that it is a viable alternative. In many respects it is the emotional first choice and most trusted on several key issues (except fiscal management). If the NDP ever completes the trust cycle to be the most trusted on the economy, it wins. That is the key transition provincially. Once you are the most trusted on the economy you are considered a viable default option. Then any votes you bash away, you can pick up.

If you look at what Layton is doing, I suspect he gets this reality. You see Layton often trying to establish himself as the viable alternative in rhetoric and style. This needs to be completed on the economics front. Not that he is not trying or making progress but this is the challenge and I worry about distractions from it.

Debater

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

the Liberals are not presumed to be government ready. They are now effectively in the same boat as New Democrats and competing with them, perhaps for the first time for the role of alternative government. 

The NDP are not a threat to the Liberals at this point in time - let's be realistic.  The Liberals are well ahead of the NDP in all the polls right now and the NDP are not going to beat the Liberals for the official opposition anytime in the near future.  They are not in competition for the role of "alternative government".

I do agree with you though that the Liberals lack a vision and have a weak leader.  There is a lack of substance, ideology and policies in the Liberal party.

I also think the Liberals need to realize that they may need the NDP's support down the road in a future Parliament.

Fidel

The NDP has to go on the attack a lot more, and maybe even a little US style negative campaigning. And there is so much to be negative about the two old line parties' records in power.

Bookish Agrarian

More so than ever I think there are a lot of parked votes right now.  We are in a period of flux, so saying the Liberals are untouchable is not accurate.  It is going to take some effort, but a solid campaign focused on being an alternative to the Conservatives is what is needed.  Screw the Liberals they will only decline more as the public focuses on Iggy as a leader.  For most people he is still a blank slate and those impressions they do have are mostly negative.

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

I have no idea why the Libs could possibly be ahead of the NDP in the polls, with charismatic-challenged Iggy as their leader, and a dull if not lifeless collection of MPs in their caucus.

Debater

Boom Boom wrote:

I have no idea why the Libs could possibly be ahead of the NDP in the polls, with charismatic-challenged Iggy as their leader, and a dull if not lifeless collection of MPs in their caucus.

The Liberal leader is weak and uninspiring yes, but the Liberal party brand name still carries a lot of weight and that is what will keep it up in the polls.

The Liberals will need to either do a much better job presenting Ignatieff or select a new leader in order to get back to where they used to be though.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

. But both parties should give up employing the tactics that have elected opposition parties in a time of two natural governing parties and start employing the tactics required to establish or re-establish their parties as governing options.

 

..my question is what does the ndp need to do to become a governing option? if they move any furture to the right they will further alienate their base.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

 

..i feel there is something missing in this thread and that is what does the ndp need to do. i don't think there is an answer because i don't think the conditions are right for the ndp to take power federally. i'm probably wrong so what will it take. there is debate the third way vs going back to the roots. there are other ideas. which way does the ndp need to move to become a governing options. they can't be everything to everyone. they have to choose. or is it all about personality?

Debater

epaulo13 wrote:

..my question is what does the ndp need to do to become a governing option? if they move any furture to the right they will further alienate their base.

Well one thing I think the NDP needs to do in order to become more seriously considered by the Canadian public is to get out of the 4th party position that they have had in Parliament since 1993.

Up until 1993, the NDP was the 3rd place party in the House of Commons.  But with the rise of the Bloc Quebecois in 1993, and the collapse of the NDP, that changed.

Since Jack Layton assumed the leadership of the party 7 years ago, the NDP has been able to increase its seat count in the last 3 elections and strengthen its position compared to where it was post-1993.  But it has not yet been able to re-gain the 3rd place position in the House or beat the BQ in seat count.

I think that for the NDP to be taken more seriously as an electoral option, it needs to move out of the 4th party position and beat the BQ.  It is hard to claim you can become the Official Opposition or the Government when you are in 4th place - parties rarely go from being 4th to being 2nd or 1st.

The NDP's objective in the next election should be to beat the BQ in seat count and win around 50 seats.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..i'm sorry for my previous 2 posts. it's not that i think that the question of what the should the ndp be doing isn't a good question but it may be the wrong one.
..while reading an article on znet on what obama should be doing instead of what he is doing i was again reminded of how progressive change really occurs. it's from the bottom up. i tend to get caught up in party politics sometimes and i forget this.
..i don't believe that the election of any party will be satisfying..ever. "the left", and there are enough of us, needs to lay aside it's differences to force political parties to change. the question then would be what things could the left do to lay aside it's differences. this prorogue issue is an opportunity. proportional representation could be another.

G. Muffin

Could someone open up a new thread with the same title except for Provincial ....

I'm too tired.

ETA:  Iggy wrote me a banal letter about pensions.  I want to write Gord-O a scorcher about health care instead.  And I think My Spaceship Knows Which Way To Go.  Your Sister's Dead; There's Something Wrong.  I'm 43 and not in the least concerned about how I'm going support myself When I'm 64.  I think it highly unlikely that I'll live to 44.  Well done, Gord-O.  Enjoy your Olympics (TM).  It would be a shame if something happened to you and you couldn't finish your opening speech.

ETATA:  If you voted Green or didn't vote, my blood is on your hands.

Farmpunk

I wonder if the NDP has the organizational ability to contend for second place.

Perfect example.  An NDP MP was recently in my area, alongside the local Federal and Provincial candidate.  This was two weeks ago.  The MP spoke about... the HST... to about twenty older people who wanted to know about matters other than the HST.

Prorogation, pensions, health care?  Not on the agenda.  The meeting was confused at best. 

The federal Liberals have abandoned this riding and the local candidate, while a hard working person, needs some kind of logistical support or someone like a person with a background in community organization to get the grass roots established.  Top down politics won't work for the NDP, because they aren't the Libs or Cons.

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

I agree with Sean in Ottawa, but I'd like to add my view that the window of opportunity is rapidly closing. Indeed, some positive news articles about Iggy have already surfaced. It's like we as a society had to put him through an initiation - we broke him down and now we are going to build him up. He's being seen consulting with Canadians and this "thinkers conference" thing appears to be an attempt to do exactly what Sean is suggesting. The NDP needs to beat them to it. Do they have a plan ready? It's that lack of vision thing I'm always going on about, which some NDP partisans here don't seem to give a fig about.

Sean in Ottawa

I did mean this to be partly prescriptive but also make the points that what used to work for the Liberals won't work for the NDP but perhaps now the prescription is in many ways the same.

The relative position of the two parties is less relevant to me than if one of them is a default governing option if the Cons falter. I think there is recognition that the Liberals do nto have that default position anymore so like the NDP they must earn it. In that sense even if they are far apart they have much in common. I recognize the point that a party hovering around 30% is in a different position than one under 20 but if niether is in a position to claim government just on account of the fact that the lead party is no good then they are in the same boat-- needing to make a case for governance.

Others brought in the third way debate. That was not what I intended but it is important. The third way means the NDP becoming more like the Con-Liberal establishment-- that is one shortcut to making a case for governance and one that has been done provincially. Of course that negates the point of having the party in the first place-- to provide another way to govern-- the third way is just the same old way. So the NDP then has to make a case not only for itself but the type of philisophy it has-- I don't subscribe to the idea of remaking the party in to something else as a replacement for that important debate. This may be the big difference now between the NDP and the Liberals now that the latter has lost the presumption of an ability to govern. The Liberals being a party similar to the Cons only have to prove competence. The NDP have to prove the legitimacy of their philosophy (assuming it is not abandonned in a third way sell-out).

The best strategy I can come up with therefore remains letting teh Liberals bash the Cons while the NDP do as little of that as possible instead making a case of an alternative look at policy from a left of centre viewpoint. We should be making points about the efficiency of collective action, what these benefits we offer will look like and how they will work; how the economy will work, how we will pay for what we do, how people will be better off. I think this means a lot more comprehensive a program than we are used to seeing from the NDP and a greater reliance on this in campaigns and speeches.

As far as negative campaigning-- ours, when we do it, should be targetting the ways the two other parties manage things rather than the single problems of one party. Where we can agree to share a message as a united opposition that is a good strategy but apart from that it is the system represented by both large parties we need to campaign negatively about and the alternative to that we need to address. Let them duke out between them the mantle of crappiest capitalist. We have other things to do.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The best strategy I can come up with therefore remains letting teh Liberals bash the Cons while the NDP do as little of that as possible instead making a case of an alternative look at policy from a left of centre viewpoint. We should be making points about the efficiency of collective action, what these benefits we offer will look like and how they will work; how the economy will work, how we will pay for what we do, how people will be better off. I think this means a lot more comprehensive a program than we are used to seeing from the NDP and a greater reliance on this in campaigns and speeches.

..this is good strategy sean in ottawa.

 

Running socialist

I see two problems.

One is with the voters.  I think that Canadian voters seem to think they have only two alternatives.  Bloc or Libs in Quebec, Cons or Libs in the balance of Canada.  The voters need to know that there is an alternative that actually would work for their benefit. 

That leads me to the second problem.  The media ignors the NDP.  I read the Toronto Star on the weekend and the only alternative quoted to any government story is the Liberals.  When the NDP is mentioned, it isn't flattering.  A case in point is during the last provincial election, the language chosen to highlight the NDP alternatives was more negative than positive. 

I thought Jack's recent TV ads were excellent.  Telling Harper and Iggy to get back to work to help Canadians.  Problem is this costs money.

Sean in Ottawa

You are right-- this is a problem.

But this is not a new one and there has to be ways to get around it-- and sometimes we can so we need to look at those examples and make more of them.

You can't just keep blaming the media-- this has nothing to do with blame-- it is about finding a way in the context we have.

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

You are right-- this is a problem.

But this is not a new one and there has to be ways to get around it-- and sometimes we can so we need to look at those examples and make more of them.

You can't just keep blaming the media-- this has nothing to do with blame-- it is about finding a way in the context we have.

If the main media isn't friendly (and generally I'd say it's that the NDP is ignored, rather than picked on) then the NDP needs to create something for the new media. This CAPP business shows the power available that the main parties have barely begun to tap into. For example, the NDP site could have forums for people to discuss current events and policy, allow for public interactaction with NDP MPs and candidates (either through casual discussion on forums or a more formal Q and A system, or live interviews / question sessions like the Globe and Mail does). Also, they could release PDFs on key issues that form part of their overall framework / policy agenda - informative, somewhat detailed documents people can read and send around to others (I'm thinking 5 page max). Finally, they should have an overall detailed vision policy (something like Vision Green, but not necessarily in that format) that combines the single issue documents into a coherent framework. These documents should be engaging and coherent and show why the NDP vision is something worth voting for and that shows the NDP has a platform to implement so they are ready to govern. Now sure, I know many won't read these things, but some do and they may talk to friends (or if they are media folk, who knows, maybe they'll write about it).

Sean in Ottawa

exactly-- in fact that is what I have been saying here for more than a couple years-- although I like the emphasis on the new media opportunity-- something I have failed to spell out. Now that the internet is no longer the playground of an elite it is the place to get the word out-- The problem is with the iternet everyone is reading different things and most of what is there is written for and read by the converted. Like right wingers go to a right wing board left to a left wing board. There are few real "agoras" online.

Debater

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

I did mean this to be partly prescriptive but also make the points that what used to work for the Liberals won't work for the NDP but perhaps now the prescription is in many ways the same.

The relative position of the two parties is less relevant to me than if one of them is a default governing option if the Cons falter. I think there is recognition that the Liberals do nto have that default position anymore so like the NDP they must earn it. In that sense even if they are far apart they have much in common. I recognize the point that a party hovering around 30% is in a different position than one under 20 but if niether is in a position to claim government just on account of the fact that the lead party is no good then they are in the same boat-- needing to make a case for governance.

As I mentioned above, the reality is that the Liberals do still have that default position.  They will have that default position as long as they remain in 2nd place in the polls and the NDP remains 3rd (and 4th in party size to the BQ in the House of Commons).

As long as the NDP trails in the polls and is behind the BQ in seat count, the NDP cannot realistically position itself as a governing alternative to the Conservatives.  They need to beat the Liberals in the polls and beat the BQ in seat count.

Sean in Ottawa

No, with respect, they do not.

The Liberals have to make a case that they are fit to govern. If people do not see them as an alternative government then they are not the default place to go. Right now I think that the Cons remain in first place precisely because there is no other party seen as fit to govern- in spite of fairly widespread anger at this government.

I think you have this backwards-- and that is why the NDP goes nowhere. People assume with higher polling results they will be presumed an alternative and then will get more and govern. The reality is more complicated. You need to be presumed as an option to govern- even if you are not the first or even second choice. Once you have this then you can come up quickly.

Consider Ontario-- both the Cons and the Liberals in that province at times have slipped in to third place but they never lost that presumption that they could be a reasonable government (if they got their stuff together). The Liberals have lost that in spite of being in second place and the NDP has never had that federally. This is a public impression that matter more perhaps than being first or second in voting intention. The Liberals would have to get that back to be in contention (if they had it now I think they would be leading Harper by double digits).

Basically as angry as people are-- they would not trust the government to any of the opposition. And over the long term this is the challenge for the NDP-- right now it is also the challenge for the Liberals. Last time the Liberals were in this position in 1988 and 1993 they used the Red Book which won them the 93 election. (In 84 they lost badly but were at that point still recognized as a governing alternative.

The presumption of a party as a governing alternative will come before an upward spike in the polls (and effectively cause it) and linger after a fall for a while before people stop thinking of the party as the natural alternative. Many voters right now will vote for Harper assuming they have no choice. Opposition parties have to overcome this and they cannot do it from attack ads they ahve to present themselves as a viable option.

 

KenS

I think this would not be too blunt a boil down of what Sean said:

The NDP is a long way from being seen as a credible alternative.

The fact that Liberals do not have so far to go- that they are closer than the NDP- does not ipso facto make them the alternative.

Right now there is no sufficiently credible alternative, and as long as there is not, Harper and company would have to REALLY screw up to lose government.

In other words, Harper being "merely" someone people like us despise, and an awful lot more Canadians don't really trust... bad as that sounds, barring a credible alternative, Harper and the Cons can go on governing indefinitely.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

KenS wrote:

I think this would not be too blunt a boil down of what Sean said:

The NDP is a long way from being seen as a credible alternative.

The fact that Liberals do not have so far to go- that they are closer than the NDP- does not ipso facto make them the alternative.

Right now there is no sufficiently credible alternative, and as long as there is not, Harper and company would have to REALLY screw up to lose government.

In other words, Harper being "merely" someone people like us despise, and an awful lot more Canadians don't really trust... bad as that sounds, barring a credible alternative, Harper and the Cons can go on governing indefinitely.

..and to take this a bit further the ndp needs to alter it's strategy or we the people need to find a way to force change. this change need not be limited to the ndp.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

KenS wrote:

I think this would not be too blunt a boil down of what Sean said:

The NDP is a long way from being seen as a credible alternative.

The fact that Liberals do not have so far to go- that they are closer than the NDP- does not ipso facto make them the alternative.

Right now there is no sufficiently credible alternative, and as long as there is not, Harper and company would have to REALLY screw up to lose government.

In other words, Harper being "merely" someone people like us despise, and an awful lot more Canadians don't really trust... bad as that sounds, barring a credible alternative, Harper and the Cons can go on governing indefinitely.

..and if i could be so bold to take this a bit further the ndp needs to alter it's strategy or we the people need to find a way to force change. this change need not be limited to the ndp.

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

epaulo13 wrote:

..and if i could be so bold to take this a bit further the ndp needs to alter it's strategy or we the people need to find a way to force change. this change need not be limited to the ndp.

Could you flesh that out a bit? I see the word "change" and I get the willies.

Sean in Ottawa

Kens post is accurate (not all I said but he certainly is not misrepresenting anything and has the most important).

Change-- well I am arguing for a better communication strategy more than a change of policy. I certainly do not believe that watering down core positions is an answer.

 

Tommy_Paine

 

I think the NDP has to consentrate on fundamentals.   They need to zealously brand themselves as ready to govern.   And, they need to understand that people vote with their wallets.   Simple policies that will put money in people's pockets.  

It's the economy, stupid.  

As far as attack goes, particularly negative ones, that surely has to be done.  But it has to be done intelligently, by organizations or individuals not directly linked to the NDP.   And, targets can't just be politicians or candidates, it has to be the movers and shakers behind the scenes and their media shills.  

We have to fnd ways to put a hurt on them.

Politics is all prepositional.  It's what you can do for or to people.

Debater

KenS wrote:

I think this would not be too blunt a boil down of what Sean said:

The NDP is a long way from being seen as a credible alternative.

The fact that Liberals do not have so far to go- that they are closer than the NDP- does not ipso facto make them the alternative.

Right now there is no sufficiently credible alternative, and as long as there is not, Harper and company would have to REALLY screw up to lose government.

In other words, Harper being "merely" someone people like us despise, and an awful lot more Canadians don't really trust... bad as that sounds, barring a credible alternative, Harper and the Cons can go on governing indefinitely.

According to the latest EKOS poll, the Liberals would beat the Conservatives in seat count based on the current numbers, so I'm not sure if it's the case that there is no credible alternative or that Harper would have to really screw up in order to lose.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..in this thread i have found agreement with how i believe the ndp can present itself as a viable alternative. the strategy laid out by sean from ottawa is different than what exists today. for the ndp to adopt this strategy will mean change no matter what you call it.
..i have lived under several ndp governments both in manitoba and bc. i suggest that none of these governments have been what i have struggled for almost 40 years. once in power their behaviour is not fundamentally different than the libs or cons. they endorse the market and corporate dominance. although you can argue the pace of corporate encroachment on the commons is slower under ndp there is never an alternative to it. 
..i don't know how the federal ndp will behave if it ever achieved power but if it is like the provinces where they say one thing when in opposition and another when in power..i'm not interested. the ndp are not the answer. they are a vehicle that can be used to achieve democracy.
..when i say force change i mean things like prop rep that will force a more diverse dynamic. this could take us to the next step. btw i don't have a master plan. i struggle to make sense of things like the rest of you.
..lastly out of seattle there came an awareness of a movement or movements that were not really on the radar. young people formed into small groups eg: tree huggers..many of them diverse, decentralized and democratic. they exist today. the ndp has not been able to recognize the importance of let alone the existence these groups.

ottawaobserver

The only thing less reliable that EKOS numbers, is EKOS seat projections based on EKOS numbers.

Debater

ottawaobserver wrote:

The only thing less reliable that EKOS numbers, is EKOS seat projections based on EKOS numbers.

One certainly can't based a future election campaign based on seat projections, absolutely correct.

But that was not the main point I was making.  The main point I was making and that Jane Taber's column and others were making is that the fact that people are even talking about the Liberals being competitive with the Conservatives so soon after their collapse last fall is a big change.

KenS

My bet:

the next Liberal collapse in polling numbers is less than 2 months away.

I have a lot less of a hunch how much.

And if its quite a lot, it will probably be in the midst of an election. But even without an election: roller coaster back down.

ETA: there will be roller coaster ups for the Liberals everytime Harper screws up enough. But until Iggy and the Libs get their act together, the next down only waits for Harper Crew to get back on track- which is a virtual certainty.

And because the Libs have almost no control over election timing [and can't keep their poll numbers up long enough anyway] its unlikely in the extreme that it will 'happen' to be an election on one of those short lived Liberal rises. So its the down the roller coaster runs that count.

I don't think its inevitable that Iggy and the Liberals fail to get their act together, but as long as they do, this dynamic is doomed to repeat.

ottawaobserver

Yes, the Libs were successful in creating a short-term bump in favourable media coverage for themselves this week based on those tiny polling gyrations (for them; the Conservative movements were obviously larger and more consistent). I can't wait to see their expense accounts from Hy's come in for all that spinning.

Like Ken, I'm content to see how long they can carry that on for, however.

Pogo Pogo's picture

While Liberal blunders are the gift that keeps giving, I don't think that we should assume that this is going to go on forever.  They do have a history of finding ways to recover.  While it would be nice to have them fall back to the NDP, it is far more likely that the NDP is going to have overtake them.  Not that this changes the strategy much at all.

KenS

In the long run thats definitely true.

Two related but different conversations here: what it will take the NDP to _____ ; and, are there any signs the Liberals are recovering.

Debater

KenS wrote:

My bet:

the next Liberal collapse in polling numbers is less than 2 months away.

I have a lot less of a hunch how much.

And if its quite a lot, it will probably be in the midst of an election. But even without an election: roller coaster back down.

ETA: there will be roller coaster ups for the Liberals everytime Harper screws up enough. But until Iggy and the Libs get their act together, the next down only waits for Harper Crew to get back on track- which is a virtual certainty.

And because the Libs have almost no control over election timing [and can't keep their poll numbers up long enough anyway] its unlikely in the extreme that it will 'happen' to be an election on one of those short lived Liberal rises. So its the down the roller coaster runs that count.

I don't think its inevitable that Iggy and the Liberals fail to get their act together, but as long as they do, this dynamic is doomed to repeat.

I don't think there will be a Liberal "collapse" in polling unless they commit a major error or miscalculation.  I think their numbers are likely to remain reasonably steady for the foreseeable future, although they may indeed level off.

KenS

I and others have given our basis for expecting this latest uptick to be as soft as the others since Iggy has taken charge: that the Liberals have not changed the fundamental drivers, so all they ever get is temporary surges that last as long as the always short lived extra anger at Harper's government.

You've given no basis for your expectation they will remain reasonably steady, and you don't have a good track record on your last round of such stated expectations.

Debater

The Liberals remained steady in the polls in support for most of 2009 until the election threat in the fall.

Farmpunk

I've read this thread from stem to stern I have more questions than answers.  We're supposed to be discussing what, again?  It's good reading, mind you, but I've kinda lost track of what SeanInO wants the NDP to do as far as implementable strategy. 

George Victor

Yep. I just replied to an e-mail invitation from Jack to join in the critique of arbitrary use of proroguing... with an invitation to the party to propose meaningful reforms in pensions and job creation...something not so abstract for those in dire need.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

The first thing the NDP needs to do on this is to snuff out the loser culture that dominates the federal party, particularly in Ontario.  So long as people believe that losing elections and political marginalization are somehow signs of holiness, those same people will consistently undermine the NDP (while voting Liberal).

Scott Piatkowski Scott Piatkowski's picture

Malcolm wrote:
The first thing the NDP needs to do on this is to snuff out the loser culture that dominates the federal party, particularly in Ontario.

I think we pretty much did that around the time that we won our 17th seat in the province. How many do we hold in your province, Malcolm? Wink

ottawaobserver

OK, gotta admit that was a good one, Scott !!

Debater

The NDP's numbers are down in Ontario right now though, so it's something to keep an eye on.

KenS

Ohhh... touche Scott.

But funny enough, both yours and Malcolm's points are appropriate.

Though I think that 'loser culture' has become more an annoyance that barks increasingly from the margins.

ottawaobserver

Debater wrote:

The NDP's numbers are down in Ontario right now though, so it's something to keep an eye on.

They're no lower than they were between elections last time.  And, as Scott pointed out, we still won 17 seats.  The numbers usually move up during campaigns because the NDP finally gets something approaching more equal airtime from news outlets.  We all know this, and don't get too upset.  So much of the Ontario media is based in Toronto and is part of the Liberal establishment, that it's hard to break through the complacency the rest of the time.  Also, much of the NDP's support is concentrated in places not terribly well represented in the regional polling samples.

I expect to see the NDP grow at the Conservatives' expense in southwestern Ontario, and I don't expect to see too many, if any, former Liberal MPs retake their seats from the NDP in northern Ontario (Net News Ledger in Thunder Bay recently lambasted the local Liberal candidates and praised the unprecedented efforts the two NDP MPs had been making to communicate with their constituents, for example).  Ignatieff's appearance in Sudbury during last September's caucus meeting didn't do anyone up there much good either.

That said, there are swaths of Ontario that are currently a wasteland for the NDP.  But at least that means the party's support is concentrated where it can make a difference in terms of seats, and all the evidence points to the federal party understanding that and directing their resources accordingly.

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