The NDP, New Labour and the US Democratic Party

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Lord Palmerston
The NDP, New Labour and the US Democratic Party

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Arthur Cramer Arthur Cramer's picture

So?

socialdemocrati...

The question I'm wondering is still -- on what specific issue or policy -- do we worry the NDP is going to become more like New Labor or the US Dems?

Let's make this easy:

1. Most vulnerable foreign policy issue?

2. Most vulnerable economic issue?

3. Most vulnerable cultural issue?

Lord Palmerston
Lord Palmerston

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

The question I'm wondering is still -- on what specific issue or policy -- do we worry the NDP is going to become more like New Labor or the US Dems?

Let's make this easy:

1. Most vulnerable foreign policy issue?

2. Most vulnerable economic issue?

3. Most vulnerable cultural issue?

It's not just about the party's policies, it's also about the party's identity as a social democratic formation as opposed to a liberal bourgeois one. One can say "look the polciies are already moderate, so what difference does it make?"  But in my view, it does make a difference.  New Labour was not just about moderating platforms, it was about embracing the wealthiest capitalists in Britain and trying to compete with the Conservatives as the party of business.  Given that the NDP is closer to power than ever, it is very tempting to want to pursue a similar path - and court affluent professionals and the more "liberal" wing of capital.

But by doing so, you have to compromise on core policies.  How far should they be willing to go?  I think it's pretty naive you can court these groups "just" by changing the language.

Unionist

What do you mean by the party's "identity"?

Doug

The NDP isn't about to become New Labour, if for any reason, because it was never Old Labour. The Canadian labour movement even at its peak never had the same sort of power to use or abuse as British labour had. No Winter of Discontent, "world's longest suicide note" platform or splitting into two parties here. No incidences (at least not yet) of almost but not quite defeating the Conservatives  due to their exploitation of that negative history. Coming from different places I don't see how we can get to identical results.

Lord Palmerston

Unionist wrote:

What do you mean by the party's "identity"?

Would you have voted for Obama if you could vote in US elections?

Unionist

Lord Palmerston wrote:

Unionist wrote:

What do you mean by the party's "identity"?

Would you have voted for Obama if you could vote in US elections?

Of course not. The man threw Rev. Wright under the bus for saying racism was endemic in America. He promised to chase the terrorists and kill them in Pakistan. He swore allegiance to Israel at a meeting with AIPAC. It was obvious to everyone (well, to me anyway) that he was planning to betray on health care and on workers' rights to unionize. He opposed same-sex marriage. I condemned him for all that and much more on this board long before he was elected. It wasn't easy overcoming the frightening chorus of change, hope, and bullshit around here.

Why, would you have voted for him?

Now, what happened to my question of clarification? I sincerely have no clue what you mean by the "identity" of a party.

ETA: Re Obama - although I didn't believe a word of "closing Guantanamo", I actually thought he would make an effort to recreate it somewhere else. His cowardice and cynicism on even that front of a straightforward lying promise caught me by surprise, I must admit.

 

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

..the ndp is closer to the liberals than to the regina manifesto.

socialdemocrati...

And if we're not talking about policy, we're talking about something a lot more subtle.

If you ask most New Democrats "should we increase our vote count?" They say yes, absolutely.

If you ask most New Democrats "should we change our policy to get there?" Most say no.

The thing is, we CAN appeal to disaffected Liberals with the current platform. Most are opposed to Harper's agenda: the crime bill and the internet bill in particular. Then there's the Liberal failures on climate change and child care. Presumably SOME Liberal voters wanted child care and carbon pricing in good faith, but they were denied by their corrupt leadership.

So if no one is changing our platform, and we merely present our platform with a more "modern" tone, what's the problem?

If I'm understanding you correctly... the harm you're suggesting is that once these voters are in the tent, the tent can't hold together. You try to court ex-Liberals in 2015, and then they want to reshape the NDP to become more like the Liberal party by 2020. We don't officially merge, but if we broaden our appeal to those voters, we've merged in all but name.

That's a legitimate worry I have too. But then, we've been doing that under Jack for 10 years. And now we're ready to follow it to its logical conclusion.

This is why sometimes I actually WANT a minority government. I don't want to invite the Liberals into the big orange tent to stay. The best of all realistic paths to victory involves peeling off enough Liberals to score a minority government, forming a coalition with them contingent on electoral reform, then have everything go back to the way it was in 2020 -- just with a different electoral system.

autoworker autoworker's picture

If New Democrats believe that their way to power is to skim off enough Liberals who are tolerable to their Party, then I would say that strategy is no different than Harper appropriating acceptable Tories in his successful quest for power, and the fulfillment of the hidden agenda that is now being revealed.

epaulo13 epaulo13's picture

socialdemocrati...

..if you are talking to me and i'm not totally sure you are, i only meant to respond to unionist question of "identity".

Brachina

With Obama the problem isn't Idealogy, although that is a problem, its character, he's a political coward, who pretends to be a conenus president.

The only time he's done anything useful is when he's been forced to. Obama can take progressive voters for granted because they have no where to go.

The progressive democracts need to organize and put forth a manifesto of a small list of demands if Obama wants to keep them onside. I love to see them organize like the tea party, only left wing.

pragmaticidealist

Calling the NDP social democratic is a bit of a stretch.  They are left-leaning liberals for the most part.  I am not saying this as an insult, I actually support this position.  Those advocating electing a "real left-wing leader" of the NDP are naive.  That's a sure way to relegate the party to irrelevance once again.  Capitalism is not the evil thing you read about in Das Kapital.  True, as an economic system it has its flaws, but it also works amazing well at performing certain functions.  People just need to recognize its limitations and try and remedy them with other government policies.  Capitalism is not going anywhere, the sooner people recognize that the sooner we can get down to business actually making some change in this country.  Otherwise, while we are busy bickering about the state of the worker in the 21st century, the other parties will be busy actually governing the country.

Lord Palmerston

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:
So if no one is changing our platform, and we merely present our platform with a more "modern" tone, what's the problem?

You seem to want to have your cake and it eat it too...that you can actually court the business community and wealthy professional types without having to change the platform at all.

Quote:
If I'm understanding you correctly... the harm you're suggesting is that once these voters are in the tent, the tent can't hold together. You try to court ex-Liberals in 2015, and then they want to reshape the NDP to become more like the Liberal party by 2020. We don't officially merge, but if we broaden our appeal to those voters, we've merged in all but name.

Not exactly.  I think an "Obama coalition" of the traditional social democratic constituency + wealthy professionals and the more "liberal" wing of capital (an LPC constituency) could sustain itself electorally, for awhile.  But at what cost in terms of principles and ideology?

Lord Palmerston

Unionist wrote:

What do you mean by the party's "identity"?

Let's put it this way...why has the business community been supportive of the Tories and Liberals historically, but never the NDP?  However tepid, the party has a social democratic/progressive/non-corporate nature they detest.  And saying "well they look like a real contender for power now, so of course Bay St. will throw money at them" doesn't cut it.  By that logic, there would have been a flow of Bay St. money to the NDP after Bob Rae became leader of the opposition in Ontario in 1987, and to Ed Broadbent after the NDP topped the polls that same year.  

Are you taking an "ultraleft" line that since the NDP is already imperfect or has already sold out, we can't express concern about a Blairite/further right direction?  

[Apologies Unionist for using your post as a means to go after many similar questions/insinuations here.  And oh yeah, I forgot you don't think donations matter.  It's a premise I reject.]

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

pragmaticidealist wrote:

Capitalism is not the evil thing you read about in Das Kapital.  True, as an economic system it has its flaws, but it also works amazing well at performing certain functions.  People just need to recognize its limitations and try and remedy them with other government policies.  Capitalism is not going anywhere, the sooner people recognize that the sooner we can get down to business actually making some change in this country.

[IMG]http://i43.tinypic.com/dwqvsi.jpg[/IMG]

Termagant

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

This is why sometimes I actually WANT a minority government. I don't want to invite the Liberals into the big orange tent to stay. The best of all realistic paths to victory involves peeling off enough Liberals to score a minority government, forming a coalition with them contingent on electoral reform, then have everything go back to the way it was in 2020 -- just with a different electoral system.

Wow, this is super distasteful. "Win just enough new votes to get what we want, but not so many that we actually have to listen to them or keep them around"? That's not a big orange tent, that's a very small, exclusionary tent.

FYI, it's just as much an old boy's club if the old boys are wearing birkenstocks.

Lord Palmerston

Doug wrote:

The NDP isn't about to become New Labour, if for any reason, because it was never Old Labour. The Canadian labour movement even at its peak never had the same sort of power to use or abuse as British labour had. No Winter of Discontent, "world's longest suicide note" platform or splitting into two parties here. No incidences (at least not yet) of almost but not quite defeating the Conservatives  due to their exploitation of that negative history. Coming from different places I don't see how we can get to identical results.

Of course they wouldn't be "identical", even Blairism would be "Blairism with Canadian characteristics."

But I would argue the strategic situation is similar, now that the NDP has replaced the Liberals as the Official Opposition.  Canada is unique in that the social democratic party (until 2011) squeezed out the party of liberalism, so the LPC remained bigger and retained the support of much of the social democratic "universe."

Given the way the NDP brain trust operates, the easiest route to power would be the "Obama coalition" or a New Labour approach.  It's much easier to assume the voters are static and go where the votes are with a "fresh" message, rather do the hard work of education, mobilization, etc. 

socialdemocrati...

Lord Palmerston wrote:

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:
So if no one is changing our platform, and we merely present our platform with a more "modern" tone, what's the problem?

You seem to want to have your cake and it eat it too...that you can actually court the business community and wealthy professional types without having to change the platform at all.

Quote:
If I'm understanding you correctly... the harm you're suggesting is that once these voters are in the tent, the tent can't hold together. You try to court ex-Liberals in 2015, and then they want to reshape the NDP to become more like the Liberal party by 2020. We don't officially merge, but if we broaden our appeal to those voters, we've merged in all but name.

Not exactly.  I think an "Obama coalition" of the traditional social democratic constituency + wealthy professionals and the more "liberal" wing of capital (an LPC constituency) could sustain itself electorally, for awhile.  But at what cost in terms of principles and ideology?

Actually, I agree with you, and I'm just as torn as you are.

No one has come out and said it... but every candidate is ready to swallow up the Liberal party in some way shape or form. And we all applaud like it's an inherently good thing, not realizing the possibility that it might be the Whale trying to swallow Jonah.

One day you invite them over for dinner, and then you wake up to find them still there, and they've redecorated the house.

Mulcair gets singled out for being the architect of this strategy for some odd reason. But every single candidate has talked about trying to court former Liberals, and unifying "progressives" against Steven Harper. I'd venture to say the strategy was pioneered by Jack Layton, and it's been so wildly successful that it's now a part of our party's mythos. We all dream of this glorious day where progressives are unified under the NDP banner, with an NDP majority... without realizing what that might mean.

socialdemocrati...

If you want to interpret that as exclusionary, you can. Personally, if I were a loyal Liberal, I'd be much more insulted to think that the NDP would expect me to join up enthusiastically and just abandon my principles. I'd be even more insulted to think that people should be forced to choose between the Conservatives and the New Democrats, with no third or fourth option. As a New Democrat, we all make a principled commitment to the idea that voters deserve to have MORE choices, and to have all those choices count towards a representative of those views. So yes, I'd rather see a coalition of Liberals and New Democrats than to see either party go away in the name of "strategy". Electoral reform, FTW.

Lord Palmerston

You're giving Layton too much credit.  There was always the belief that the party needed to court the "liberally minded" since its founding and a goal was to follow the example of Britain where Labour squeezed out the Liberal Party.  Broadbent too tried to win over these voters in the mid-1980s after the NDP was just 10 seats behind the Liberals in the 1984 election.  

Of course there's nothing wrong with trying to win over people in the social democratic universe who vote Liberal.  The question is to what extent they move to the right to do so and to what extent they'll take a more pro-market, business-friendly stance to win over other non-NDP voters?

(I'm not sure if you're saying Layton was the "Blair" of the NDP, and thus there's nothing to be concerned about because Layton already did it.  My assessement is the Third Way project did move along significantly with Layton but the process is uncomplete.  The party did not win any "business credibility" under his leadership, most of it was picking up more of the social democratic universe.)

 

Unionist

Lord Palmerston wrote:

Unionist wrote:

What do you mean by the party's "identity"?

Let's put it this way...why has the business community been supportive of the Tories and Liberals historically, but never the NDP?

I was hoping you'd tell me something about how workers, the poor, women, youth, students, farmers, etc. do see themselves in the NDP, in addition to telling me how the business community does not. Perhaps you could elaborate on that, in terms of explaining the NDP's "identity"?

I'll be honest with you, I'm not an expert in this field. I have long struggled (for example) to understand why some billionaires support the Liberals, some the Conservatives, or why as a group they seem to shift sometimes from one party to the other. Is it just that some are in manufacturing, others in finance, others in oil and gas? Likewise, what's up with trade unions and who they support and why they change? That's why I've said that I'm more interested in looking at the present and historical policy and practice of a party than at who supports it at any given time, because the latter can notoriously shift quickly - have a look at May 2 where I live, for example.

Quote:
However tepid, the party has a social democratic/progressive/non-corporate nature they detest.

Why wouldn't that translate (even more tepidly) into permanent business support for Conservatives over Liberals? I think there must be more to it than that. Maybe the NDP really has been a non-contender, at least not a reliable one over a long enough historical period.

 

Quote:
Are you taking an "ultraleft" line that since the NDP is already imperfect or has already sold out, we can't express concern about a Blairite/further right direction? 

I don't believe so. Am I not allowed to express some skepticism about the NDP without having straw men of such magnitude erected in my name? Let me know whenever you think I'm being insufficiently vocal about rightward shifts on the NDP's part, and I'll be sure to do some quick corrections.

Quote:
[Apologies Unionist for using your post as a means to go after many similar questions/insinuations here.  And oh yeah, I forgot you don't think donations matter.  It's a premise I reject.]

No need to apologize. But you have a duty to be clear. I never said donations didn't matter. I questioned the thesis (which I consider a bit on the ludicrous side) that multi-millionaires contributing $500 or even $1000 each to some NDP candidate's campaign is worth looking at for two seconds in assessing the merit of that candidate. Especially when the contributions are given in public! I also warned about the danger that this kind of lazy analysis could pose to purer and nobler candidates (little did I know that my prediction would come true so quickly in the case of the attempted character assassination of Brian Topp)!

In the U.S., donations matter - big time - in the sense of which you warn. In Canada, they simply can't any more. So move on, and let's talk about a party's (or an individual's) identity in terms of its policy, its practice, its partisanship - and most importantly, its connection to the real live movement of people in struggle.

Lord Palmerston

Thanks for the clarification.  I don't want to give the impression that the right-wing drift hasn't occurred.  And it is foolish to suggest that someone can be "bought off" with a $500 or $1000 from a Bay St. player.  My concern is more that they like what (Mulcair, Topp) says. 

Remember too the Ecclestone Affair in Britain - after New "Labour" openly embraced many of the wealthiest capitalists in the country and tried to compete with the Conservatives as the party of business.  It's a road we never want to go down.

Thankfully Chretien did us a service by barring these types of donations.  He also helped destroy the Martinites in the LPC who had become far too accustomed to relying on very wealthy donors, where it was much easier to go to Bay St. to pick up a relatively small number of big donations at fundraisers than to appeal to a wider array of society.

socialdemocrati...

I'm not really dissing Layton so much as showing there might be a "fourth way"... Moderating the party in tone, but remaining strong in principle, growing and winning. I sometimes think that a lot of people on babble get too upset over tone, and they ignore that the actual policy is still basically the same. But I freely admit the possibility that moderating the tone does such a good job winning over Liberal voters, that those voters then hold considerably more sway over our policy. But that's more of an unintended consequence than anything that a specific candidate is proposing.

I try to be optimistic. Our fundraising rules prevent the financial class from having as much sway as they do in America. I also just think that social democracy is more firmly entrenched here: public health care is a matter of pride for most Canadians, and it thus validates the idea that government can play a valid role in the economy. So even if the NDP drifts a little rightward, I imagine we'd still be far better off than either the Cons or the Libs, and far different from New Labor and the US Democrats. (All the NDP candidates keep pointing to universal child care. That's gotta be proof of something.)

Rabble_Incognito

Unionist wrote:

What do you mean by the party's "identity"?

My first gloss - The identity of a party is the aggregate of symbols, propositions and principles the leaderships of the party say 'represent' that party. A party is coherent to the extent that it's identity 'agrees' across and within leaderships. A party can be said to be incoherent, and identity 'diffuse', when these representations change seemingly without  reason (principled backup).

Second gloss - the above, and, if the core identity of the party is democratic, and the party decides to change policy or direction, it behooves them to discuss it and take a vote. Presumably this is how core principles/beliefs would be derived.

Third gloss - Sensible parties build in a relevance criterion - folk need to have reason for discussion about changes to core principles/beliefs, because trying to change core principles/beliefs too often can lead to identity diffusion, e.g., Why should changing this principle be relevant in this context when dilution of the principle risks diffusion of our identity (see 'brand'*) to voters?

* Brand is a term a lot of capitalists will enjoy seeing. I write for readers. Smile

Some brands don't go together very well, like Kashi and Coke, right? If you're out trying to sell Kashi breakfast cereal, you don't try to embrace the same symbols as cocaine or soft drinks, because the symbolic interplay is confusing, right, especially if you're trying to peddle something that's supposedly 'good for you'.

autoworker autoworker's picture

This thread topic reminds me of the Sesame Street song: "One of these things is not like the others...".

Rabble_Incognito

Cool  ...perhaps I've had too many coffee.

Rabble_Incognito

Lord Palmerston wrote:

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

The question I'm wondering is still -- on what specific issue or policy -- do we worry the NDP is going to become more like New Labor (sic) or the US Dems?

Let's make this easy:

1. Most vulnerable foreign policy issue?

2. Most vulnerable economic issue?

3. Most vulnerable cultural issue?

It's not just about the party's policies, it's also about the party's identity as a social democratic formation as opposed to a liberal bourgeois one. One can say "look the polciies are already moderate, so what difference does it make?"  But in my view, it does make a difference.  New Labour was not just about moderating platforms, it was about embracing the wealthiest capitalists in Britain and trying to compete with the Conservatives as the party of business.  Given that the NDP is closer to power than ever, it is very tempting to want to pursue a similar path - and court affluent professionals and the more "liberal" wing of capital.

But by doing so, you have to compromise on core policies.  How far should they be willing to go?  I think it's pretty naive you can court these groups "just" by changing the language.

I concur with LP.

I'll constrain my answer to the US Democrats.

It's an identity issue. It's also an assimilation issue. I don't want to be assimilated into the United States mindset by thinking the way they do or using their language or world view. But I feel odd answering this question, when I'm not sure where the person (asking the question) is coming from,

Perhaps Socialdemocraticmiddle you can tell us... why do you think the NDP should change philosophy/policy to become more like a US political party like the Democrats? In what ways?

I was confused because you use the American spelling of 'labor' but the British and Canadians spell it 'labour' - that's why I've been confused who the heck 'New Labor' was because I never heard of them in the context of the US Democrats. You use the American spelling, so it's fair for me to ask just out of personal interest are you American or have you received an American education? Wink

National identity aside, this is the 2nd time the issue has been raised in the past week or so, right? So is it correct to guess that you think the NDP needs to change somehow? Please specify in what ways it needs to change, and why. Now I'm as curious as you were!

To change an organization like the NDP, I suspect one would have to pay great heed to the history, so as to comprehend the basic principles and players, wouldn't one? And wouldn't an organization like the Democrats in the states have a whole other history that makes sense (perhaps) for their party/place/context, but would make no or little sense for ours?

Btw a coalition with the Liberals is fine on a temporary basis. But a two party system is not useful to emulate, in my view.

socialdemocrati...

Rabble_Incognito wrote:
It's an identity issue. It's also an assimilation issue. I don't want to be assimilated into the United States mindset by thinking the way they do or using their language or world view. But I feel odd answering this question, when I'm not sure where the person (asking the question) is coming from,

Perhaps Socialdemocraticmiddle you can tell us... why do you think the NDP should change philosophy/policy to become more like a US political party like the Democrats? In what ways?

I don't think that.

The reason I'm asking is because this thread is somewhat of a spinout from the other threads, where a few of the NDP leadership candidates have been accused of wanting to copy Tony Blair or Barack Obama. Every time I ask "on what policy?", the response is "pssh, isn't it obvious?"

So I dig in and do a ton of policy research. I visit multiple candidates' websites. I go through debate transcripts. I compare the candidates with the 2011 platform, and I compare the candidates to each other. And when I say "no, it isn't obvious how anyone will move the party to the right, since they all basically support the party platform," people get hung up on the tiniest things. "Candidate X praised the Greek government for austerity!" (not exactly), or "Candidate Y stripped rights from organized labor!" (actually that happened a few years ago under Layton).

So the reason I ask "on what policy?" is because I want to know what risk people are seeing. Is it a real risk, or is a completely hypothetical risk?

Rabble_Incognito

I see what you mean, thanks for the reply. Today I went through the old leaders biographies just to get a feel for where the party is coming from - I need to do more research on candidate thinking before the final votes. I think I worry about the NDP in the following ways:

1. Most vulnerable foreign policy issue? Israel - Front runners seem to support Israel which makes me wonder if they're bullies like Israel has been a bully. Next is the arctic passage. We need a real foreign policy and we should stop parroting what the US wants (recent perimeter agreement). We've lost our identity as a nation because we cowtow to the foreign policy needs of our largest neighbor and send misleading signals to voters (see Israel above) - a real risk that we could lose our place as the party people turn to for guidance on what consititutes 'justice'.

2. Most vulnerable economic issue? The debt and austerity agenda of the conservatives (Crisis of the Week, brought to you by GW Bush and Stevie Harper), the privatization of health care, raising OAS retirement age, tying health care to provincial GDP, and the erosion of the Canadian social safety net broadly construed. The USA wants us to stop public health care because it makes our workers more competitive. So the tories will chip away at health care because there's big bucks in it. A hypothetical risk that makes sense and could be very real.

3. Vulnerable cultural issue? The creation of a greed culture; Privatization of the CBC or other cultural institutions; Privatization of education; Assimilation with the USA via US governmental and corporate hegemony. Private jails, mandatory jailing of cannabis smokers, a jail and guns culture.  Real risk.

I think anyone living close the USA but not American feels the same feelings of powerlessness and sadness. They dominate - they're a conquering nation and they conquer with capitalism and guns, the media and diplomacy. Most Canadians I'll bet 'feel' that domination and seek respite from it. Our party can be a place where they get respite from it, or not. It's really up to us as New Democrats to resist their cloddish cultural domination, brutish foreign policy and limited capitalist-only one-solution-fits-all mindset, and instead offer up a principled foreign policy, solutions that regulate the private sector and utilize the best features of our mixed economy to keep our culture authentic and a real mosaic.

socialdemocrati...

I think you're right on the money with your list. At least in theory.

  • Israel is the most complicated foreign policy issue, and there's a strong chilling effect on any statements that might ruffle Israel's feathers (justified or not).
  • Austerity -- as it relates to health care and social security -- has momentum around the globe.
  • Creeping privatization in the arts is a big one. It's been happening slowly already.
  • Mandatory minimums and the prison-industrial complex is another terrible American idea.

But how many of these are at risk under any of the NDP candidates?

I would say the cultural/social issues are patently safe with the NDP. They're just too juicy in terms of their opposition value. We've been opposing the crime bill, we've been champions of the CBC. Holding the line against the Conservatives here should be easy. The most "controversial" (by default) would be marijuana policy. But we have 6 out of 8 candidates on record saying they support decriminalization, with a few wanting to push even further to full on legalization and regulation.

That leaves Israel and austerity.

I'm afraid to say that Israel will already disappoint most New Democrats concerned abot this issue. Our history on this issue has been mixed as is. Layton's apology to the Israeli ambassador over the comments of Libby Davies indicates that we've been playing it very safe, and I expect that to continue. The only real new development is Palestine's UN bid. All but two candidates were at a debate where they unanimously said they support the UN bid (although some were more specific about their support than others). I can't imagine we'll get much more bold than that. But on the bright side, there isn't much room to move further to the right here. Again, there's too much to be gained by opposing Harper, and getting our seat back on the UN security council.

Austerity is the real wildcard.

Mostly because no "progressive" government really favors austerity, but many "progressive" governments crack under pressure from the financial sector and introduce austerity. It's hard to see this coming. I think that all of the candidates could crack under right-wing pressure, in theory. But some will crack more quickly than others.

socialdemocrati...

Infrastructure is pivotal.

"Free Trade" prevents us from doing all kinds of tariffs and subsidies, but infrastructure sidesteps that whole problem elegantly. I also think it's more effective than a subsidy or tax credit anyway -- so many times we give these companies cash, and they use the subsidies to do what they were going to do anyway, and use the surplus to pay higher bonuses.

High speed rail could be a game changer. Winnipeg used to be the gateway to the West. A trade hub in Canada and North America. Then the Panama Canal opened, and it became actually faster and cheaper to transport goods by sea. With oil prices on the rise and trains having come a long way in 60-70 years, this should be a no brainer. As you pointed out, green energy is going to be a wise cost-saving investment. Might I also suggest an Internet investment similar to what the Australian government has put together.

All of the candidates have proposed at least some of these infrastructure investments, which is good news.

My biggest worry, in the back of my head, is still what happens to these promises once the NDP inherits a record debt in 2019. The Conservatives will do it on purpose, to make it impossible for us to enact a social democratic agenda. And with the budget being what it is, the drum beat around the world will be austerity: that seniors and working people should pay the price for Conservative malfeasance.

Rabble_Incognito

If the NDP legalizes weed, my God, 12,115,003 stoners simultaneously getting off their couches at once to vote,... it might cause a shift in the magnetic poles.

Yeah the austerity thing is crazy - I wonder - what about the idea of public expenditures on energy, transportation, and health care, to put our workers and our economy ahead of the USA? I mean, we're in a free trade agreement, but why can't we create expenditures that benefit our workers?

A high speed train line from Windsor to Montreal would rock, so would some work on tidal energy, and regarding health care, perhaps a healthy infllux of moneys to spur on scientific and technical advancement and achievement? How about a few more centres of excellence in the natural and medical sciences or preventative medicine? After all, if we're healthier, we run cheaper. Or what about some modest tax breaks for companies that provide a living wage for workers, or tax breaks for worker collectives, or union owned companies? These companies are less punitive on workers than shareholder companies so the worker quality of life is higher. We should reward that stuff it makes us strong. Or give incentives for child care facilities at worksites. Or how about we bring back manufacturing to Ontario's west by giving these abandoned companies to the workers? (like Caterpiller). Hey if the Germans can sell quality manufactured products and compete against the Koreans and the Chinese and the Japanese by making their country name synonymous with quality and overengineering, so can Canada. How about some engineering research money during the austerity crisis?

These ideas are at least as sensible as Harper's military expenditures on ships and planes.

The whole austerity = (selective) cuts thing is an IMF abomination.

If we weren't full of natural resources we'd be suffering a lot more right now.

socialdemocrati...

I don't disagree. But now we've strayed from the motive behind this post... which candidate has the highest risk of moving the party to the right, and how do we minimize that risk?

No candidate is explicitly promising a shift to the right, and all (if not most) of the candidates are echoing key planks of the 2011.

So the conclusion I'm coming to, personally, is that our biggest risk is not from right-ward leanings, but from a lack of courage. Some will have the tenacity to see the agenda through, and even the strategic savy to pull it off. But some will cave at the first signs of battle, or flub their strategy so badly that a Conservative opposition will be essentially dictating terms to an NDP majority.

Rabble_Incognito

The latter paragraph - good point - I think the best way to get cooperation is by 'buy in' - bring them to the decision process by sensible education and perhaps a referendum? Or start with town halls?

Let's suppose your investment is big - you justify the referendum and education campaign expenditure by the financial 'weight' of the decision. One investment is a high budget item, the other a low budget item. You tell them you prefer the high budget item and why you prefer it. Then you leave the decision up to them. Then they choose between a train to work and an jet for Peter MacKay to fly around in. It's all in the choice presented. You don't ram it down people's throats - you engage them and let them work through it with the best info around - and you write the curriculum. It's gotta be sincere though - a real choice, not as obviously biased as the choice I presented but one with two real solid choices.

Another thing you can do is advertising. For example, are you aware that the Ont Hydro communication campaign "Wasting electricity turns people OFF" (the one with the muppet dog barking OFF OFF!) was so effective during the eighties, I think, that folks in a seniors home were complaining that someone in their building took all the lights out of the stairwells, and more interestingly, the drop in electricity demand was so dramatic that Hydro wasn't selling enough electricity. So the campaign was shelved. Well, you can help people modulate their consumption with education. And if you can do it with electricity, you should be able to do it with many things. Austerity that comes from the self is preferred to austerity handed down, but on some matters austerity can be taught. Better preventive health care advertising, concerning diet, say, could impact hospital admissions positively. Education on mass transit can be effective.

The pic above shows Peter and one of his pilot friends and fellow conservative party member Russell Williams.

KenS

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

So the conclusion I'm coming to, personally, is that our biggest risk is not from right-ward leanings, but from a lack of courage.

Has it ever been any different?

Does it make any difference which it is?

Is there a difference?

socialdemocrati...

KenS wrote:

socialdemocraticmiddle wrote:

So the conclusion I'm coming to, personally, is that our biggest risk is not from right-ward leanings, but from a lack of courage.

Has it ever been any different?

Does it make any difference which it is?

Is there a difference?

There's a difference between trying to avoid a "right-leaning" candidate, versus trying to avoid someone prone to caving in.

I think a lot of people have been focusing on making big accusations against Mulcair, putting minor quotes ahead of big policy papers. Or even Topp, ignoring his overall platform to focus on the Romanow years or that small statement about Greece. Like those are the two biggest risks to "go right".

People aren't recognizing the risk of someone like Dewar, who just isn't that quick on his feet, and has made a bunch of bad decisions this campaign. If this were a showdown over a giant deficit, I'd peg him as the first to screw up and cave into pressure from the corporate media / financial class. Or what if Nash had made that comment about health care in the middle of a dispute, and now we're getting it on all ends from the PQ, the Liberals, and the Conservatives? If the bigger risk is someone who could get caught in a right-wing trap, or have trouble winning a debate where the media has stacked the odds against us, we should be talking more about these liabilities.

On this measure, Topp and Mulcair might actually be two of the best choices. Mulcair is no slouch in the area of strategy, and even though people might take issue with his statements, he's not afraid to have a fight over what he actually believes. Topp is also a pretty good communicator for a behind the scenes guy, and understands the strategic big picture better than anyone. Neither of these two guys would lose a showdown, unless we were truly in a bad situation, and then I'd trust these guys to make the best of a bad situation.