The NDP & proportional representation - #2

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Polunatic2
The NDP & proportional representation - #2

Continued from here

Issues Pages: 
Polunatic2

A couple of points. The federal NDP support one particular kind of proportional representation. On the provincial level, we're all aware that not once has an NDP government ever taken efforts to reform the system. In BC they worked against PR ostensibly because they didn't like the model. In Ontario, well, we'll have to agree to disagree on how "supportive" the NDP were. The indication I get is that they have learned from the experience that writing off the campaign and sitting it out before it even got under way may not have been the best approach. 

I fully agree, and have stated so myself in the past, with the idea that the NDP could do much better in educating their own base and the voting public about the undemocratic nature of the FPTP voting system. That is the issue of principle here - first past the post is not a representative democratic system and we see the results whenever public policy does not reflect public opinion.  We see the results with the growing cynicism, mistrust and apathy among voters. 

I don't buy the "inside the beltway" arguments put forward that suggest that voters don't care about the fact that in any given election, half of the votes go to electing no one. I have never voted for a winner on the federal level. Not once. Maybe I should move? While the 4 referendums held at the provincial level were all losers, there are now a couple of million people who have voted for PR. Why doesn't the NDP build on that? 

By doing so, the NDP doesn't have much to lose. As voters become more aware of the benefits of electoral reform, that can put pressure on the Libs (and Cons?) to reconsider their position. I disagree with the view expressed by some that by putting increased focus on PR , the NDP would be abandoning all their other issues and would then pay a price at the polls. Sounds like an excuse. 

Also, voting habits would change under FPTP. One of the reasons the NDP (and Greens) don't get as many votes as they should is that voters think that they would be "wasting" their vote - especially in ridings where  the NDP is not competitive. While we can point the finger at the self-serving obstinacy of two Bay Street parties, that should not exempt the NDP from doing the right thing for voters - supporting the advancement of democracy by consistently and loudly advocating for equal votes for all Cdns. 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Glad you cleared that up for us. Here I thought that a complete lack of information from the government and an out-and-out campaign against it by the MSM were the deciding factors.

 

But I thought the electorate already wanted a change?

 

In any discussion of voting and voter turnout, the claim is sure to be made that the electorate is discouraged and disenfranchised by the unfairness of FPTP. If that's true, why would the government need to do more than what they did (which, at least in Ontario, consisted of a mailout that explained the difference between FPTP and MMP -- did you get yours? Was it insufficient?)

 

And again, assuming people actually do want a change, why would the MSM be a factor? If people want lower taxes, and the National Post says "no, we should have higher taxes", I'm going to expect people's own wishes to win out... again, assuming those *are* people's wishes. Who needs a newspaper coaching them to choose what they already want to choose?

 

Personally, I think the reason the electorate is lukewarm on PR is that the current system makes sense to them (the person with the most votes wins the riding, the party with the most ridings forms government) and because, frankly, PR is only going to mean that most voters' preferred party (Cons or Libs) gets *fewer* seats. That's not a great incentive. I don't think most Con or Lib voters are feeling all that altruistic toward Elizabeth May.

Fidel

Polunatic2 wrote:
In Ontario, well, we'll have to agree to disagree on how "supportive" the NDP were.

I believe it was Liberal governments in both BC and Ontario referendums insisted that no parties would campaign for or against STV or MMP.

Can we at least agree that Liberal governments wielding phony majority dictatorial powers in both Ontario and BC at those times supported neither MMP nor STV when "agreeing" to hold referendums on electoral reform? Really, though, I don't think the NDP had much of a say in either case, but Howard Hampton did have a page on ontariondp.com endorsing MMP and CA's choice at the time. Nothing on the other two parties' web sites though.

BC Liberals were high on electoral reform after 1996 when the NDP won a phony majority with less than 40% of votes. Campbell gets in and corners the market on phony majorities, and so Liberals gradually lost all interest in ER by the late 2000s.

siamdave

- trying to keep it short, a couple of points of what I would consider flawed reasoning here -

Snert wrote:

 

In any discussion of voting and voter turnout, the claim is sure to be made that the electorate is discouraged and disenfranchised by the unfairness of FPTP. If that's true, why would the government need to do more than what they did (which, at least in Ontario, consisted of a mailout that explained the difference between FPTP and MMP -- did you get yours? Was it insufficient?)

- I have never made such a claim, nor do I really recall reading it - many people (40% didn't vote the last election, as I am sure you know) seem to be very unhappy with the results of our elections - that is not the same as being discouraged by the electoral system. I suspect most people have no clue about the electoral system, or how it operates to give the results it does. We never hear an election result such as "Cons get 40% of the vote and 60% of the seats!!!' - no, we hear' Cons win great majority!!'. And when PR gets into the news, we hear AM Tremonti and Michael Enright - speaking to the 'intelligent' part of the country on the CBC - saying that they don't know anything about this PR stuff, just too complicated to understand..' - and you don't, as far as I recall, hear anything about it at all in the NP or Sun papers. As I noted elsewhere, there have been studies that have shown that people who actually understood PR were highly in favor of a change.

Quote:

 

And again, assuming people actually do want a change, why would the MSM be a factor? If people want lower taxes, and the National Post says "no, we should have higher taxes", I'm going to expect people's own wishes to win out... again, assuming those *are* people's wishes. Who needs a newspaper coaching them to choose what they already want to choose?

- if you don't think the MSM is a factor in the way people think, I can only suggest you start doing some reading - Chomsky, Postman, Lippman, Bernays, Ellul might get you going -

Quote:

Personally, I think the reason the electorate is lukewarm on PR is that the current system makes sense to them (the person with the most votes wins the riding, the party with the most ridings forms government) and because, frankly, PR is only going to mean that most voters' preferred party (Cons or Libs) gets *fewer* seats. That's not a great incentive. I don't think most Con or Lib voters are feeling all that altruistic toward Elizabeth May.

- the current system only makes sense because it has been presented to them all of their lives as the greatest democracy in the world - and they believe what they are told. The idea that Cons and Libs would get fewer seats is not entirely true, all elections are different - that does sound like an MSM talking point for telling people they don't want to go there, however. How about the fact that the Libs have 5 seats in western Canada - but under PR they'd have 20? How about the fact that the separatist Bloc have 50 seats in the national parliament under FPTP to break up our country - under PR they'd have 25? And etc. Ask most people if they think a party with 20% of the vote should get 20% of the seats - or if some parties with 35% of the vote should get 50% of the seats, and other parties with 10% of the vote should get 0 seats, and see what they say. It's got a lot to do with how questions are framed - yours don't seem to be very honest. The MSM is certainly not honest in their portrayal of what goes on in this country, and certainly not only electorally.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
 if you don't think the MSM is a factor in the way people think, I can only suggest you start doing some reading - Chomsky, Postman, Lippman, Bernays, Ellul might get you going

 

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that the MSM is an inert body. I just don't believe that if people want something, the MSM can make them unwant it as easily as (I assume) you do.

 

Quote:
Ask most people if they think a party with 20% of the vote should get 20% of the seats - or if some parties with 35% of the vote should get 50% of the seats, and other parties with 10% of the vote should get 0 seats, and see what they say.

 

Here's my guess: "Uh, which party would be getting the 50%?" But now I'm curious... you seem to believe that the electorate has an innate sense of fairness, independent of any partisanship. So then why didn't that result in a "yes" vote for PR? Is it your belief that the MSM convinced people NOT to support something they believed to be more fair than the current system? Or is it your belief that the electorate is fair-minded but didn't understand that PR is more fair than FPTP and needed to be coached to vote Yes?

 

KenS

Polunatic2 wrote:

I don't buy the "inside the beltway" arguments put forward that suggest that voters don't care about the fact that in any given election, half of the votes go to electing no one. I have never voted for a winner on the federal level. Not once. Maybe I should move? While the 4 referendums held at the provincial level were all losers, there are now a couple of million people who have voted for PR. Why doesn't the NDP build on that? 

By doing so, the NDP doesn't have much to lose. As voters become more aware of the benefits of electoral reform, that can put pressure on the Libs (and Cons?) to reconsider their position. I disagree with the view expressed by some that by putting increased focus on PR , the NDP would be abandoning all their other issues and would then pay a price at the polls. Sounds like an excuse. 

Since conter-arguments have been made before, I'm not going to repeat it. You've summarized a lot of territory there.

"Sounds like an excuse." For wha? Presumably you mean we're just saying that it is because we dont see how to roll boulders uphill, and working hard at it anyway takes resources from other things, so no thanks.  The "real reason" being that we dont want PR. [Or that if we really wanted it we would... this is circular isnt it?]

Did someone somehwre say that we'd have to abandon all the other issues to tak about PR?

No they didnt. Thay said what I just said [again]: you cant by fiat say it isnt boulder rolling. And the resources of what the NDP can do ARE limited. I've said extensively that the NDP needs to put more into campaigns that do not produce near term benefits in votes. But when and if that is done, the choice of what issue will have to be very carefully made. I know that PR would not make it to the top of my priorities. And stop trying to portray that as some kind of moral lassitude.

Fidel

Our two dirty old line parties have to want to fix our dysfunctional, inefficient, vote-wasting, obsolete and mathematically absurd electoral system. If only the NDP supports ER, then it's unlikely voters who vote for either of the two dirty old line parties will support it.

In other words, ER has to be a democratic decision by all main parties and their support bases, including those other two parties which tend to not be so democratically minded, and especially whenever there is Parliamentary discussion about fixing Canada's dysfunctional, inefficient, vote-wasting, obsolete and mathematically absurd electoral system aka "the phony majority machine" and which is now just "the phony minority machine" as of last three federal elections.

siamdave

Snert wrote:

Quote:
 if you don't think the MSM is a factor in the way people think, I can only suggest you start doing some reading - Chomsky, Postman, Lippman, Bernays, Ellul might get you going

 

To be clear, I'm not suggesting that the MSM is an inert body. I just don't believe that if people want something, the MSM can make them unwant it as easily as (I assume) you do.

Again, I can only suggest a bit of reading - it is pretty widely believed by many people that the MSM has a major influence on the way 'modern' people think, and what I see going in the US and Canada does nothing to challenge that idea (Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent is the main modern study, but there's a lot of other related stuff out there). Studies from the US are easier to come by, but there is no reason to think Canadians are that different. I am sure you know how the Bush et al propaganda drive (he admitted himself he was 'catapulting the propaganda') had most Americans believing Hussein had WMD, when of course all of the "evidence" was simply fabricated and he had none at all - I forget the % offhand, but a lot of Americans still believe Saddam either did the 911 attacks himself, or cooperated with al Quaeda in those attacks - again, complete fantasy. And why did/do they believe such things? Because the MSM encouraged an open and impartial debate between Bush and the many even then who were saying this propaganda sounded very suspicious - or because the MSM was on message with Bush 24/7, TELLING Americans (and everyone else - I am sure you could find enough Canadians even today believing the same crap) that Bush was right, etc? In the modern world, people are trained to believe what they hear on the tv and read in the press - and most do. Such training also has some impact on the 'reasoning' faculties - sitting passively in front of a television 4-5 hours a day is NOT good for exercising the critical reasoning faculties - and it shows - so they are more susceptible to non-questioning acceptance of what they see on the tv, or read in the MSM. We have, in Canada, for krissake, at least one elected MP who believes the earth is 6000 years old and man and dinosaurs shared the planet back then - amazing. And he was 'elected' - this is not great reasoning and critical examination at work.

- it's not a matter simply of people wanting something and the MSM cannot make them 'unwant' it - it's a matter of the MSM telling people what they want or don't want - or instilling them with what they know or don't know about our society and what is going on here - in the first place. For example, poll after poll shows that most Canadians really want a good health care system. Both main parties are making excuses to dismantle that system, and Canadians continue to vote as always - the MSM, along with the parties, tells them they have no choice, and they seem to believe it. I have talked elsewhere about the massive theft of the national debt scam - and even on rabble I cannot raise any interest - I can only guess at the reasons, but the fact this is not being talked about in the MSM, and people believe what they read in the MSM (or not) more so than what some lonely voice in the wilderness tells them, would likely be a factor, it seems to me. (Feel free to have a quick read, and then tell me you understand the situation, and truly believe that my ideas are crazy, and allowing private banks to create our money, and our turning over a couple of trillion dollars to them in 'service charges' over the last 30 years, and an ongoing tens of billions each year, is the best way to manage our money supply, we have no better alternative, etc - What Happened? http://www.rudemacedon.ca/what-happened.html )

Quote:

Quote:
Ask most people if they think a party with 20% of the vote should get 20% of the seats - or if some parties with 35% of the vote should get 50% of the seats, and other parties with 10% of the vote should get 0 seats, and see what they say.

Here's my guess: "Uh, which party would be getting the 50%?" But now I'm curious... you seem to believe that the electorate has an innate sense of fairness, independent of any partisanship. So then why didn't that result in a "yes" vote for PR? Is it your belief that the MSM convinced people NOT to support something they believed to be more fair than the current system? Or is it your belief that the electorate is fair-minded but didn't understand that PR is more fair than FPTP and needed to be coached to vote Yes?

 

- I don't believe in 'the electorate', and have never referred to anyone that way. What I believe is that the average Canadian has an innate sense of fairness, and if they had any idea what was going on with the electoral system, would vote to change it - which is why the MSM spends so much time telling them things are fine, PR is too complicated, etc - and as a well-trained citizen who trusts in the integrity of their media, they leave it there - such busy lives everyone leads today, no time for independent thinking or research - not needed anyway, when your media tells you what you need to know and you believe them. One of the main problems progressives face, this very misplaced belief in the integrity of the MSM (I am a bit surprised to see so much touching faith in the integrity of the MSM even here on Babble, but I suppose I shouldn't be ...).

Again, these people are very, very good - they've been working on this for most of the last century, since Lippmann and Bernays, among others. They know that they can leave you alone most of the time, so you feel free - they only want to influence you now and then, with the important stuff, or keep you altogether away from some things like understanding anything about how completely you are controlled by allowing private banks to control the money. They also don't want you questioning your 'democracy', so that kind of thing is never permitted - when people themselves start asking some hard questions about their 'democracy', which is becoming so dysfunctional it is obvious, they start with the misdirection - hey, we'll give MPs more free votes, that's all we need! and etc - but any talk of getting closer to real democracy, such as through PR, is squelched as much as possible - as I have noted, to hear supposedly intelligent CBC senior hosts telling their listeners that they don't want PR, it's too hard to understand, the old system is fine - makes it pretty clear the MSM speak with one voice, and Cdns are not going to get PR anytime soon.

So as for the question - "the people" did not / do not KNOW that FPTP is a very unfair system, and PR would be much more fair - all they 'know' is that most people in the MSM are telling them it is too complicated and they don't need it, things are just fine as they are, and as most people believe what they are told in the MSM, they saw/see no reason to accept it. Which is why a long-term, non-MSM education program is needed, to make people aware of this situation, so if they get a chance to change their voting system again sometime, they can actually make an informed decision. I do not really think the word 'coached' is the word I would use - it is what the media does, coaches them with lies and fear-mongering to vote the 'right' way without undrstanding anything - myself, what I think needs to be done, is for somebody with the resources, such as the NDP, to educate the people through long-term information provision and discussion so they actually understand what is being discussed. At which time (this is getting into Aliceland, as I don't really expect such a time to come), I would expect them to vote for PR, a system which much more accurately reflects the way 'they' all together have voted. I may be wrong, but I do think most Canadians really are fair people - it's part of what was making our country great before the neocons decided they were going to take it - part of neocon-NWO-capitalism, of course, is destroying fairness and encouraging priviledge for some and serfdom for others, and getting the people to fight for scraps (divide and conquer), which many are embracing, some out of approval (they think they deserve better), but others because they perceive they have no choice in a dog-eat-dog world, in which they want the best for themselves and their families they can manage, and if that means a 'me first f*** you' capitalist attitude towards their life and world, then they will do it. but that's another story.  

Again, this grows long - but like any serious issue in our society, twitter just doesn't cut it for useful dicussion (odd how twitter is being given such media attention - they really want people out there twittering mindless slogans and soundbites and useless chatter, rather than getting involved in any useful discussions...)

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

siamdave wrote:

Again, this grows long - but like any serious issue in our society, twitter just doesn't cut it for useful dicussion (odd how twitter is being given such media attention - they really want people out there twittering mindless slogans and soundbites and useless chatter, rather than getting involved in any useful discussions...)

Chomsky on the uses of concision in the media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cceC3DeFcY

siamdave

Michael Moriarity wrote:

siamdave wrote:

Again, this grows long - but like any serious issue in our society, twitter just doesn't cut it for useful dicussion (odd how twitter is being given such media attention - they really want people out there twittering mindless slogans and soundbites and useless chatter, rather than getting involved in any useful discussions...)

Chomsky on the uses of concision in the media: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cceC3DeFcY

- nice clip - haven't seen Chomsky looking that young in awhile - and the drivel from the mouth of the 'host' mocking Chomsky - awesome, as they say. Sad to think how many people seem to agree with him ...

psmith

It's been pointed out by some in the first part of this thread that only elecoral system nerds / grad students care about proportional representation, and our voting system.

This was the excuse given for the NDP's lack of movement on the democratic reform file in recent years: that it would cost more votes than it would bring in, and therefore isn't worth the effort. Blame was laid at the foot of grassroots Canadian electoral reform organizations like Fair Voting BC, le Mouvement pour une democraie nouvelle, and Fair Vote Canada for failing to motivate the citizenry sufficiently. Quel dommage.

But this argument seems to assume that Canadian voters are dumb. They are not. The root cause of our dysfunctional parliaments and our lack of women/minority representation merely has to be pointed out to them: our winner-take-all voting system. Experience has shown that once people are educated on the facts, they all of a sudden support proportional representation. From close to zero support 10 years ago before grassroots organizations like Fair Vote Canada were formed, polls are now showing that a majority of Canadians support PR:

Environics/Council of Canadians Poll: Majority of Canadians Support Proportional Representation

It takes time to move national public opinion, and that's real progress. Even better news is that the stongest supporters of voting system reform tend to be young people ...and they stay strong supporters. With trends like this, it's may be a safe bet that it's only a matter of time before proportional representation is looked at seriously by the poitical classes. The question for us is: will the NDP lead on this trend, or follow?

What NDP naysayers should realize is that educating people (starting with NDP supporters) is key to defining the debate and leading on the electoral reform file. For all the positioning on being in favour of PR, I haven't seen one iota of that in the past number of years. And if the NDP isn't serious about educating their own supporters on proportional representation, how serious can they be at pushing the issue nationally?

All signs point to a "following" strategy. Or even worse: it would be understandabe if voters thought that the NDP was in favor of the status quo! Critic David Christopherson has said just about nothing on electoral reform since taking over the file years ago. Just look at the ridiculous situation we now find ourselves in: Conservatives, with all their talk of Senate reform, have assumed the position of the party most active and in favor of electoral reform - stealing the crown from the NDP long ago.

The Liberals and Bloc will probably never lead on this file... it's up to the NDP to propose a different path in answer to the Conservatives "democratic reform" agenda. So far they haven't proposed any alternative.

Instead of being reactionary ("we'll talk about it if others bring it up, or if some inexperienced citizens organizations do the groundwork for us"), maybe the New Democratic Party could be proactive for a change, and be a leader on an issue that actually is increasingly important to Canadians.

Polunatic2

Quote:
"Sounds like an excuse." For wha? Presumably you mean we're just saying that it is because we dont see how to roll boulders uphill, and working hard at it anyway takes resources from other things, so no thanks.  The "real reason" being that we dont want PR. [Or that if we really wanted it we would... this is circular isnt it?

For what? For doing nothing about it. A one liner on the website saying that the NDP supports MMP without even explaining the statement is not an "inordinate amount of time". The purpose of the thread is to explore "why". It is true that many electoral reformers do wonder about the NDP's commitment because these arguments do not really make sense. "The proof of our support for PR is our silence about it." 

Quote:
Did someone somehwre say that we'd have to abandon all the other issues to tak about PR? No they didnt. 

Yes they did or am I misreading, misrepresenting and misquoting? 

Quote:
 What will satisfy you? When the NDP becomes a single issue party that ONLY talks about electoral reform and ignores everything else?...

...you think parties should drop everything and only talk about your dinky little issue of changing the electoral system that no one else cares about. 

...If the NDP spends an inordinate amount of time talking about proportional representation it will just make the whole issue look like nothing more than a scheme to get the NDP more seats...

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

David Christopherson is my MP. I have just sent him an email:

Quote:

Hello David:

I am a voter in your riding. (I live on Maplewood Ave.) I have always supported you and the NDP. I am writing to ask what you have been doing in your position as caucus spokesman on Democratic Reform. In particular, I am very much in support of some form of Proportional Representation. I understand from the party web site that the NDP supports an MMP system, at least in theory. I am interested in knowing what steps the party, and you in particular, have been taking to bring this objective closer to reality. Thank you for your time and attention.

I will post any reply that I receive.

 

scott scott's picture

psmith wrote:
...a majority of Canadians support PR:

Environics/Council of Canadians Poll: Majority of Canadians Support Proportional Representation

Shortly after the British Columbia second referendum on electoral reform (which failed to pass) a poll found that a majority of voters supported PR, which leads to the conclusion that either general ignorance of the proposal or disike of the particular scheme was at work.

I gues that a lesson from this would be that a future vote should be in two parts - the first a choice between FPTP and PR, then a second vote to choose a PR system. it is very easy to shoot down a specific system. especially if the the current system does not need to be defended.

__________________________________

One struggle, many fronts.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
 which leads to the conclusion that either general ignorance of the proposal or disike of the particular scheme was at work.

 

If it was ignorance of the proposal, how could people say they support it? Wouldn't their answer be "what do you mean by 'proportional representation'? I don't know what that is"?

KenS

Referring to post12-

"Sounds like an excuse for what?" Answered: excuse for doing nothing about PR.

Two common accustaions are levelled at the NDP about working on PR, and its hard to keep them straight when people dont specify.

By the context I thought this was accusation #1: that the NDP doesnt WANT PR, so pretends various things.

The other accusation is that the NDP does nothing or at least way too little.

The reply to that by Dippers is that it isnt as easy to get traction on, spend your time talking to nobody and you get nowhere on nothing. Pick your battles.

So its to THAT you are saying "sounds like an excuse." This is inherently circular.

We say its not a higher priority because we dont think there's traction in this battle. We cant do all things, this doesnt make the cut.

Then you say that saying there isnt traction on it is an excuse for not making it a higher priority. No its the REASON for not making it a higher priority. We DISAGREE about the evidence of how much traction there is on the issue. Dont treat us like we're stupid [not looking at the facts], or making excuses [which is circular].

As to my question "Did someone somehwre say that we'd have to abandon all the other issues to tak about PR? No they didnt.":

You are right, one person did. And you've been around here long enough to know that Stockholm is a master of rehetorical excess. And its obvious its rehetorical excess: he did not say we'll have to drop everything else. He said, "What do you want...."

Wilf Day

scott wrote:
Shortly after the British Columbia second referendum on electoral reform (which failed to pass) a poll found that a majority of voters supported PR, which leads to the conclusion that either general ignorance of the proposal or disike of the particular scheme was at work.

Indeed, 44.3% of those who voted for first-past-the-post in the referendum responded they are in "favour of replacing first-past-the-post with a voting system in which the percentage of seats a party gets in the legislature is more in line with their percentage of the popular vote". That makes 66% of BC voters in favour of some proportional system.

scott wrote:
I guess that a lesson from this would be that a future vote should be in two parts - the first a choice between FPTP and PR, then a second vote to choose a PR system.

Just as was done in New Zealand:

Part A

I vote to retain the present First-Past-The-Post system: 15.3%.

I vote for a change to the voting system: 84.7%.

Part B

I vote for the Supplementary Member system (SM) 5.6%

I vote for the Single Transferable Vote system (STV) 17.4%

I vote for the Mixed Member Proportional system (MMP) 70.5%

I vote for the Preferential Voting system (PV) 6.6%.

 

Fidel

It's interesting how support for FPP in NZ could jump from just 15% in 1992 to 46% a year later. What the bleetin heck?

Polunatic2

@KenS - How do we know whether or not there's traction if we don't talk about it? The circle can go either way can't it?

How is it that in the course of just a couple of weeks, Harper was able to get traction on the census - an issue which no one really cared about before? Or any of the other issues that he's pulled out of the hat? 

KenS

Harper didnt get traction on the census at all.

That was one thought they could pull through without anybody caring. Thats the biggest part of governing they do other than the sprinkling of goodies. They often get what they want, but they also miscalculate an awful lot. The census thing was suppossed to be a costless 'freebie' for the core. Instead its costing them pretty substantially.

More fundamentally you are showing a lack of awareness what fundamental messaging and possibilities of what you can get is all about.

You and a lot of other people around here think its just a matter of throwing your weight around. "Look what happens when Harper makes clear and tough stands. But it is entirely different what a government can do- getting in under the radar to get something you want is something you can do as a government. Whether or not you succeed, you can try.

Thats just not available as an option to anyone else.

We did by the way talk about whether there is traction available around building support for PR directly. Various people quote statistics that show how many people favour PR. That gets countered with specific arguments about what that does and does not translate into as far as traction available. I call that a disagreement, which strikes me as the respectful thing to do. You and others dismiss it as making excuses for doing nothing and/or covering for not wanting PR in the first place.

Shall we repeat that for another round?

hsfreethinkers hsfreethinkers's picture

Well Ken, the voting system is pretty fundamental to a democracy, and the NDP should be talking about PR regardless of whether they think it has "traction".

siamdave

hsfreethinkers wrote:

Well Ken, the voting system is pretty fundamental to a democracy, and the NDP should be talking about PR regardless of whether they think it has "traction".

Just a couple of thoughts for the mix.
I agree with hsfreethinkers - PR is very fundamental to democracy (at least the kind of representative democracy we have in Canada and most western countries, which are more in the line of faux-democracies, but given that this is what we have to work with, and one step at a time ..) - and also it would mean almost certainly a substantial rise in the number of NDP seats in the government, with the attendant increases in money, media time, influence, etc - it kind of baffles me why this isn't essentially a no-brainer, esp when you consider that any studies that have examined the situation seem to indicate that the better people understand PR, and how FPTP screws all the results in favor of the Libs and Cons and against the NDP and smaller parties, tend to strongly favor it. That most Cdns do not have this understanding is something the major parties, and their MSM, are of course happy with and don't plan to do anything about - and thus if anybody with any voice at all in the country is going to start the long-term program to get people informed about PR, it's going to be the NDP.   

Exactly what other 'issues' do the NDP place above this one, in terms of long-term strategy? Whatever the issues, obviously the NDP is currently a very small voice, and substantially increasing the seat count (almost doubling it, actually) would make that voice stronger in all other issues - so surely focusing on a long-term strategy like getting PR known and accepted by Cdns would be a more useful use of resources than simply responding to short term hot-button issues promoted by the major parties and/or MSM? I am not at all suggesting the NDP become a one-issue party - but you don't need to spend a lot of time figuring out what to say about, say, the gun control issue, or even bigger long-term issues like climate change - they can be easily dealt with, in terms of the NDP position.

The whole meaning of 'long term strategy' is just that - long term thinking - I don't actually seem to see much of that in the NDP. Or Rabble, for that matter (occasional talks like this being a bit of an exception, sometimes in some ways - although rejecting PR is not, in my opinion, obviously, very good long-term thinking..). Understanding the importance of PR, and getting it more or less top and center and front in the long term strategy, would seem to me to be about the most effective thing the NDP could do for long term growth. Not a one-issue party at all - but just a continuing, consistent policy that over time everyone will know about, and learn about, and eventually support. As an example from the other side, how often do we hear about tax cuts and the 'benefits of the free market' from the capitalist parties? Every time they open their frigging mouths wouldn't be a great exxageration, even while doing all the other stuff they do - and it has become a meme in western societies - and now even people who should have more sense (including a lot in the NDP), now accept these things as givens. And this did not happen by accident.

25 years ago, when the neocons officially took over Canada, they were not thinking 'Golly, Cdns like their 'socialist' state, so trying to change their minds would be useless' (a central argument against PR in the NDP strategy seems to be similar - Cdns know nothing about PR so it would be too difficult to teach them) - they thought 'Canadians like their socialist state - but we want to get rid of it - so here's the plan, and let's get at it, long-term strategy begins today'. And 25 years later - that's where we are. (Something actually beneficial to our 'democracy' like PR would be an easier sell, I think - if somebody actually got trying to sell it in a systematic way. (related advantage would be that once the understanding that PR is actually a better way of doing things became widely accepted - well, which party would be associated with it? right.)
- really, I cannot see any downsides to making PR a central strategy plank of the NDP, and many upsides. So why aren't they/you doing this? Maybe I'll step out on a big limb and address this later ....

Fidel

If the Liberals spend too much more time in phony opposition, then I think there could then be more talk of electoral reform within that party. And that's what's actually needed to get ER on the RADAR in Ottawa - AT LEAST two of the three main parties must support ER if ER is to become a democratic decision made in this country. And this is why the NDP is content to have ER as a platform plank. We need to unite the left across Canada since the right unified as a singular army of darkness under the ReformaTories. And Jack has tried to reach out to the phony opposition a couple of times now.

There has been NO response from the phony opposition though. LPC has given Jack the cold shoulder. What else can the NDP do when the official opposition party acts more like the official court jesters?

The Liberal Party of Canada has to come to the realization that neoliberal ideology they've championed for the last three decades is broken-down with four flat tires in the rhubarb patch, and it's simply not the democratic way forward. The fact that Conservative party had to unite under one banner and then rely on a phony opposition party to prop them up is proof enough for me that the neoliberal ideology is inherently undemocratic. The NDP needs to continue plugging away at the LPC and thieving their supporters where possible, and-or,  hope that more traditional LPC voters continue to stay home on election day. Either way the Liberal Party has to do about face and stop trying to be a redundant conservative party. They aren't fooling so many Canadians anymore.

KenS

siamdave wrote:

I am not at all suggesting the NDP become a one-issue party - but you don't need to spend a lot of time figuring out what to say about, say, the gun control issue, or even bigger long-term issues like climate change - they can be easily dealt with, in terms of the NDP position.

Wrong. You dont hear much about the NDP on climate change, not because they dont have a really good policy [I think its excellent politically as well as substantively], or because there are things in it people dont want to hear. And while its not a hot issue at the moment [sigh], you didnt hear about it in any depth from the NDP when it was a hot issue. And the reason you didnt even then is because its too complex for the kind of message delivery the NDP does. And it WOULD be a lot of work making that otherwise [let alone it would be more uncertain for the people involved]. And that WOULD mean less work going into the kind of [quick and dirty] things that have got you where you are, and which you have not reached the end of.

I dont think for a minute that means the long term development stuff should not be done. But you dont just wave away what it takes. [Wich if I'm not mistaken you do as if it was already being done. Saying "Climate change policy easily taken care of" does seem to imply its already being taken care of. Not. Having a policy means squat.]

siamdave wrote:

As an example from the other side, how often do we hear about tax cuts and the 'benefits of the free market' from the capitalist parties? Every time they open their frigging mouths wouldn't be a great exxageration, even while doing all the other stuff they do - and it has become a meme in western societies - and now even people who should have more sense (including a lot in the NDP), now accept these things as givens. And this did not happen by accident.

 

This is a good example of the accomplishment of moving people on an issue.

But its not the example people think it is of how it was done. [Although I think the problem is more that people don't think about how. They see that it happened, and the how leaps out self evidently. Not in your case Dave- in our case we would disgree about how.]

This is a cse where you did have right wing think tanks and other well placed 'big thinkers' applying themselves to how they were going to move the agenda.

But knowing that is just knowing that. It doesnt tell us squat about how WE are to do the same thing.

After THEY decide what they want, they dont need committees of implementation or anything. Circulating and developing like minded is good eonough.

Mostly because its an organic one way flow from them to the MSM. The rest follows.

The rest does not follow.

A CRUCIAL aspect of 'the rest follows' is that when the Reform Paty comes along they have a ready made package handed to them. they dont have to take any risks or anything. the way has been paved for them.

 

Its so common here for people to say "look at what the Reform Party did". They should said there stuff, stuck to it, and things came around their way.

Thats a delusion.

and saying the NDP should do the same [same what?] is a debilitating delusion.

Fidel

How can the NDP even compete with issues such as the census form, or the frickin' gun registry? Who wants to talk about the democracy gap-canyon when those other two hot topics of discussion are raging in news headlines and coffee shops and dinner tables across our Northern Puerto Rico?

In fact, few outside those ~40% or so of eligible voters who selected the Harpers and cold Liberal leftovers warmed over last election are discussing Canadian politics at all much less Census forms and much less electoral reform. There are millions of Canadians who tuned out from politics years ago, after the great sell out of 1988-89, and then millions more Canadians realized its only a rubber chicken democracy after  and the treasonous betrayal of 1993-1994. Canadians are done with political shock therapy and can't handle any more quackery.

KenS

The Right did not get its way by Reform, or any kind of 'public face' for that matter, going out there and saying what they wanted.

They were enabled to say that because the way had been prepared for them.

The way prepared for them obviously means some(s) startegized and implemented. But it wasnt the parties of the right.

Not only do we have to do the same thing- its going to be harder than it was for the Right. Double bind: its harder, and we have done less.

The fact that it is harder for us, will have to be done more overtly, leads me to think that if anyone is going to do it, its the NDP. Being the only ones close enough to having the tools.

That does not mean movement organizations couldnt or shouldnt. I just dont think they are even possibly up to it.

Its more than too bad the NDP isnt, but at least its feasible- even taking into account the obvious insitutional/bureaucratic 'drag' against doing so.

Fidel

I think Jack did his part in trying to forge an alliance with the Liberals leading up to Perogy fest part one in Ottawa. They know Jack and the NDP are open to a majority alliance again if the situation arises. Jack's not the one with his arms crossed and refusing to talk turkey. ER is nice, but it would would still be years in the making. An alliance or partnership of some kind in the mean time is the shortest path to democracy.

siamdave

{{RESPONSE TO KEN'S 23 - THIS STUFF GETS TOO LONG IF EVERYTHING IS QUOTED AND RESPONDED TO THAT WAY}}

 

- you seem to be jumping around without a lot of consistency ( first you say "..Theres a big difference between long term thinking and long term strategy- doing.." - and then a couple of sentences later you say "..Long term strategizing is thinking about a plan about where you want to go..." - Mmmm???? - they're not the same, or they are ??)

- and then you say "..Becasue there is ZERO long term strategy. And I'd include you, but that might be stretching it..." - but I have never said anything about *details* of any long term strategy I might suggest, I have simply noted the lack of any apparent long term strategy - so accusing me of having none is completely unwarranted, you have no idea of what my suggestions for an actual strategy might be. Believe me, I am not without ideas ....

And you say "..And if you dont have the tools to be able to definitively lay out the steps- .." - again, I don't quite get this - we maybe cannot lay out any 'definite' strategy - but on the other hand, who could? Is there any such thing as a 'definitive' strategy? I can't really imagine one - the best I would ever hope for is a good plan to begin with, that considers what we want and how to get there - and that has some thoughts about how to modify that plan according to whatever happened after we started - for we can be sure that whatever we do is not going to be unopposed, and if we are not prepared to adapt - we lose. Get Sun Tzu someday and spend a bit of time with it. And Machiavelli - believe me, again - our enemies are familiar with this stuff, and if we are not, we are just lambs at the slaughter.

You say "..Prople not only dont do that here, they wave away the discussion of it, as if what we want is ALL that matters..." - you don't directly refer to my post, but given the context you would seem to be including me - and again, completely unfairly, as noted above - but you cannot decide on *how* to go about implementing a plan, until you have decided to have a plan in the first place and get the general thing layed out - so accusing me or anyone of not talking about implementation is completely unfair. Let's decide what we would like to do - and then we talk about HOW to do it - you cannot talk about *how* until you decide on *what* - that's hardly rocket science, and attacking me for my lack of specifics on 'how' is, again, completely unwarranted. You have no idea on what I might say about 'how'.

But that was preamble - what I am most curious about now is this - you say "..And if a push on democracy was going to be what the NDP chose to devote long term development to, I guarantee you that PR would not be the leading edge of the campaign. Precisely because its skin dip in traction out there.."

- well - that leads me to two things - first, what exactly would you place as the three issues? it seems to me that no matter what the NDP or anybody else wants to do in terms of 'issues', increasing their seats in parliament would be by far the best way to ensure they have more say in what happens - which PR would do, in spades, for the NDP - and -  

- second, very related - you seem to be misunderstanding or avoiding the point I made about the neocons - they did not say that they do not have a hook so they should forget about something (attacking social programs or anything else) - their strategy was, to **create** their own hook - that is how it works, you **create** whatever you need to create - that is the long term strategy - if you are going to look around for tools to exploit, you might as well forget it - the neocons control everything right now - if you are going to have any chance to win here, you need to go on the offensive, and quit reacting to what they are doing - that is playing their game in their ballpark, with their rules, and your chances of winning are in the neighborhood of zero. You don't look for 'a hook' that you can attach your star to - you *create* the hook, and then get on with selling it - that is YOUR ballpark, and if you have the right plan, you can win, or at least have a good shot at it.

Well, enough for now, but *focus* is another important thing - one thing at a time - well, enough, as I said.

KenS

I'll go back and edit, being more careful about my use of words around long term strategizing to try to root out what is just misunderstanding. When and if I do, you might edit or remove your blocks of text on the subject. Remove them, and do a new post if you disagree with the clarification.

To the point of what the Right did:

The example of the tax issue, theyy did not create a 'hook' around the issue of taxes.

Remember the discussion context here: what people think Reform did is used many times as an example of what the NDP should do, and would if it had guts, or whatever it is deficient in.

I made the point that not only did Reform not have to do anything like create a hook- I said NO 'public face' of the Right ever had to do that. Becasue they dont have to. Their think tanks speak, and the MSM gradually spreads, until it becomes a flood. Not everything they want, but plenty enough. FAR more than will ever be available to us. Certainly including taxes and the role of government.

We dont get that benefit. We'll have to do it another way. And saying the NDP should be like Reform, is not merely wrong, its a distraction from finding our way. Because neither Reform, nor ANY right wing public group had to do anything as deliberate and calculated as we'll have to do.

It was sufficient for them to talk. Just talking, and the 'spreading' happening more or less organically... that generally doesnt work for us on 'tough issues' [as tax cutting was for theRight when they started talking it up].

That said: the Right did indeed decide what they had to do, and they did it. Which we have not done. But the model for what to actually DO is not there for us in what the right did.

Am i making that clear yet? Not whether you agree- clear.

KenS

siamdave wrote:

[If not PR] what exactly would you place as the three top issues [which would want to long term development on]? it seems to me that no matter what the NDP or anybody else wants to do in terms of 'issues', increasing their seats in parliament would be by far the best way to ensure they have more say in what happens....

This seems like a rversal of expected positions, but I'm not into doing what is going to give the NDP the most seats.

But its no coincidence that I also beleive the most seats lies in speaking to people about what matters to them most. [Albeit, we may have to stretch what they feel concretely in terms of programs and policies that meets up with what they/we value the most.]

As to what that would be. For me, sustainability. Because it builds on broadly held values about matters to us all. And because doing anything about it is going to require the taking of deliberate steps... the kind of evaluation that we currently do almost none of in civil society.

But for me, thats the cart before the horse. First we come to sufficient agreement about where we want to go and how- whether that happens in the NDP [for me]- or elsewherere. "How we get there" is going to quickly lead to the questions of which issues. So which issues would be best, is in principle yet to be determined. 

[That last paragraph by the way would be an operating principle, or a 'place,' where Cueball and I are very similar.]

siamdave

- well, I see we're not at all on the same page. good luck

KenS

hang on. I'm bringing something else in that at least might have something to agree or disagree about.

Sean in Ottawa

Traction does not come by magic -- nor does it come simply from content. In part it comes from credibility.

the NDP ought to produce some clear economic priorities-- stick to them over time rather than remaking a platform from scratch each time.

Having a sseries of imediate proposals for current situations is one thing but long term policies like taxation policy and a jobs policy ought to be more consistent and built over time.

also I find the amount of effort the NDP puts to trivial issues designed clearly to get votes rather than change lives is a distraction.

I do support the NDP as the best thing in town but I also wish it would be more coherent with left of centre economic policy options and stop running away from proposals when they get heat or creating half-assed proposals. Examples: the inheritence tax option should have been kept and explained; the proposal to take eveyone under 20k off the income tax roles without regard to their existing credits was stupid (it effectively would ahve erased seniors and handicaped benefits for low income people when a smarter move would have been just to bring up the basic exemption and leave the other credits in place).

You don't need half-assed policies if you keep the well-thought out stuff over time instead of runnign from it when the first media hit comes out negative.

I admit the NDP has been somewhat better at this in the last couple years but I'd like to see a longer track record of consistency on pocket book issues that matter and not just smaller issues like bank fees which are a nuisance to be sure but not life-changers.

KenS

Theres a big difference between long term thinking and long term strategy- doing. And calling it merely a big difference is an understatement.

I'm glad you included Rabble as being equally defficient with the NDP on long term strategy. But its understated. Becasue there is ZERO long term strategy. And I'd include you, but that might be stretching it. Long term thinking is not long term strategizing.

Theres plenty of long term thinking around here, and in the NDP. Long term thinking says "we need to go here."

Long term strategizing is developing a plan about where you want to go.

People not only dont do that here, they wave away the discussion of it, as if what we want is ALL that matters.

So what it takes to move on an issue is for all intents and purposes a discussion that cant happen here.

Its not a discussion that happens withing the NDP either. Different reasons, but that doesnt really matter.

It takes a lot of resources to move on an issue that isnt already out there with 'handles' already... the kind Layton's NDP has become very proficient at running with.

I'm merely arguing the hypothetical that if the NDP did long term development on ANY issue, this wouldnt be one of my top three choices [nothing beyond three would have a chance of happening]. And I'm guessing that that is not just with me, though at least a very significant minority of Dippers would disagree. Thats a debate we'd have, if we were going to do any such long term development.

And if a push on democracy was going to be what the NDP chose to devote long term development to, I guarantee you that PR would not be the leading edge of the campaign. Precisely because its skin dip in traction out there. PR might well be the central accomplishement you were aiming for, and would be part of what you talk about form the beginning.... but it wouldnot be the leading edge of the campaign. As an initial hook to get people behind the campaign it would be a dud. 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Re KenS @ 31:

I am profoundly more pessimistic than you are about progress on any substantive issue without first having a voting system which produces more representative results than FPTP. In fact, I think this is the main difference between you and most of your antagonists in this subject. You believe that progress can be made with the system we have. I think the chances of that are similar to the chances of winning a lottery.

 

KenS

siamdave wrote:
Long term strategizing is [thinking about]  developing a plan about where you want to go. [And if you dont have the tools to be able to definitively lay out the steps- as we dont here- you at least talk about the 'operational needs' as much as you can.] ..

Taking out the conflicting uses of 'thinking' was easy. But that mixing on my part is probably related to the fundamental prblems with the larger part I struck out and to which you responded. The strikeout function shows up in the edit box, but not when I post it. Its the part within the brackets [ ] .

siamdave wrote:
the best I would ever hope for is a good plan to begin with, that considers what we want and how to get there - and that has some thoughts about how to modify that plan according to whatever happened after we started - for we can be sure that whatever we do is not going to be unopposed, and if we are not prepared to adapt - we lose. Get Sun Tzu someday..

I agree with that.   And I strck out the part of my text that you were responding because it was hopeless. And part of the reason it might be hopeless....

Its not a question of people not being able to 'plan'- as much as we need or is appropriate. Its more like the depth of enquiry that goes into the plan or the framing.

The current example of this being people thinking that the right wing shifting the debate about taxes is a model we should look to that.

That they decided to do it, yes. But thats the easy part. How to do it, even the most basic general elements, its not a model available to us.

I think this comes down to a profound lack of discipline. Emphasis on that word 'think'. So park that as a side point only possibly useful- even as something to disagree with.

If mistakes in enquiry such as thinking the Right on shifting thinking on taxes is a model for us- model even of 'just' the basic 'hows'.... then what is there to say about what that is built on?

Sean in Ottawa

I'll add however that this speech is at least partly on the right track:

http://www.ndp.ca/toward-economic-vision

It is silent on specifics about how to implement key issues it raises like tax policy and jobs policies but it is a good start and those specifics would not be expected to be here-- they should be part of a proper campaign platform.

I would hope that the party produce those specifics then as well as the glitzy ads that we can afford more of now than previously.

This is not a condemnation of the aprty but a direction of what we need more of.

KenS

@MM:

Well here is where the 'movement thinker' comes in. If people want something, you can sell them on it, even if at the outset they dont understand excatly what you are trying to sell them on.

So if there is traction on an issue, you can sell them. And I think there is on 'sustainability' and what surrounds it.

I do also think that people could be sold on really caring about democratic reform that would include PR. But I think its harder with something that does not already have enough existing 'handles' in enough peoples values. And I'm just not willing to take the indirect route that others see as a utilitarian pre-requisite.

There is a difference there about seeing PR as a pre-requisite to getting anything else. On that we'll have to agree to disagree. But I sure hope people will stop the unspoken running together of that feeling that it is a [utilitarian] pre-requisite, with notions that there is some broad appetite for it.

The CCF got medicare in Saskatchewan. With FPTP, and with citizens not being ready at the start for what they ended up with. [And they did it with a gradual discussion, moving the bar in steps.]

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

KenS wrote:

The CCF got medicare in Saskatchewan. With FPTP, and with citizens not being ready at the start for what they ended up with. [And they did it with a gradual discussion, moving the bar in steps.]

That's true, and maybe I'm being too pessimistic. However, I'm 63, and nothing that has happened in Federal politics in my lifetime has hinted at a possibility of breaking the monopoly of the Liberal and Conservative parties on government. In fact, the only reason we have had minorities in the last decade, rather than more false majorities, is the anomalous existence and success of the BQ. Call me a doubting Thomas, but I just don't see how things change with the current electoral system. It may well be that nothing much will change with a better electoral system either, but at least there seems to me a possibility.

Sean in Ottawa

With the BQ and the Liberals inability to govern now an opportunity to get PR-- if the BQ were to fail that window would fail as both the Cons and the Liberlas would see no purpose and together they have enough power in preventing it. At least now the Liberals might see a purpose and at least not block it...

Interestingly the BQ seems to have no trouble with PR in spite of the obvious cost to them of it.

Fidel

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Re KenS @ 31:

I am profoundly more pessimistic than you are about progress on any substantive issue without first having a voting system which produces more representative results than FPTP. In fact, I think this is the main difference between you and most of your antagonists in this subject. You believe that progress can be made with the system we have. I think the chances of that are similar to the chances of winning a lottery.

Yes, apparently the NDP is supposed to campaign as if the electoral dynamic is that of PR. And it's a formula for disaster. It wouldn't matter if Jesus was leader of the party and we had the stone tablets as platform planks. Canadians who do vote tend to vote for the sake of tradition. Meanwhile millions of Canadians' who do vote are frustrated by wasted votes, and the other 40% of Canadians not voting are just jaded altogether.

With FPP, several dollars equals one vote not one person equals one vote. The problem is that money + politics does not equal democracy.  The red chamber has no place in a modern democracy either. These are tight times right now politically, and I think the Liberals are keeping low profile because the banks have instructed them to continue propping-up the Harpers. Their hands are tied by big money Bay Street interests, and so are the Harpers. The NDP is the only party of the four that doesn't owe favours to Bay Street or the American fossil fuel industry helping Canadians by taking the oil and gas and massive amounts of electric power off our hands for a song and a bottle.  Actually, they need at least a few NDP MPs in Ottawa to make the whole setup appear legit while robbing us blind.

KenS

Its worth noting that if the tone shifts to "if the NDP did more about democratic reform and PR specifically we would get something out of it", rather than "if the NDP really cared ,or its suspicious that the NDP....."  

Then I would no longer have an interest in arguing that you categorically have no idea how hard it is to get some movement.   And when I make that argument its not because I want to defend the NDP. Rather, because as I think should be apparent here, I see the thinking that it is a tap turned on [or not] to be a fundamental obstacle in us making progress.

Sean in Ottawa

Ken, I think this is where some of us differ. I think that the NDP screws up or disappoints often enough but do not question the intent and therefore continue to support the NDP.

Others, have drawn other conclusions. These are both legitimate points of view and there is little to convince the other since these are judgments of trust more than actual facts on the ground. As well they are questions of priority and value-- I don't agree with everything the party does but acknowledge that they do enough to justify my support.

I can acknowledge the possibility that my judgment could be wrong but based on what I know it is the best conclusion I can make. I think in most cases there are few differences about the facts and a lot more about speculation about motives.

Of course there are others who think the NDP can do no wrong and they are also unreachable and not useful to the party as they cannot prompt any progress and positive change if they always pronounce satisfaction.

In the end those supporters who believe the party needs to change but believe it worthy of support are not as different from those who believe it needs to change but do not deem it worthy of support. Beating each other up for this difference is hardly worth it-- I would encourage those who feel the party is not worthy of support to do what they are doing, mostly, do other non-partisan things and re-evaluate if we can get the changes we want. I'd prefer that they stayed in the party and helped that change happen but I can't change the judgment they have made since it is based on more than facts-- it is a conclusion, no better and no worse than my conclusion. And interestingly both conclusions are based on very similar facts and ought to be respected on both sides.

KenS

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Ken, I think this is where some of us differ. I think that the NDP screws up or disappoints often enough but do not question the intent and therefore continue to support the NDP.

Others, have drawn other conclusions. These are both legitimate points of view and there is little to convince the other since these are judgments of trust more than actual facts on the ground. As well they are questions of priority and value-- I don't agree with everything the party does but acknowledge that they do enough to justify my support.

You should specify whether you are referring to what has been said about PR, or about taking that and what the NDP does to a much more general scale.

For what its worth, while I think I have good grounds for saying there is not as much existing traction on PR as a lot of people seem to think... I know thats an arguable point.

I only strenuously argue against notions that there is some kind of tap that the NDP just isnt interested in flipping over.

Which is related to the discussion around what people think Reform achieved- an admittedly bigger issue. And one that is not just about the NDP. And on that one I think I'm on really solid ground: that Reform did not do what people think it did, which the NDP could also do.

Sean in Ottawa

Sorry Ken-- I did mean the more general.

When it comes to PR, the NDP can respond but cannot lead this alone because the reaction has always been you will do anything that gets you more seats. Put another way the Federal NDP cannot promote it too much if the provincial NDP governments won't as they have less to gain other than democratic principles because they have won power without it. Looks too self-serving.

I think that from comfortable armchairs it is easy to say the NDP should or should not. I try to think about what the party could realistically achieve that it is not already. I can think of some things but PR, as much as I like the idea, is not one of them. As well, PR should come as a non-partisan democratic reform with a fiar bit of traction before a single party can adopt it as policy-- I agree we are not there-- unfortunately.

Above, I was speakign about the pro-anti-NDP arguments that seem to be hinging on that slight bit of difference in terms of trust or priorities more than concrete factual differences. This is why, while I am a solid NDP supporter, I can understand and respect most of the strong-voiced NDP critics here at least when things are reasonably civil. And when they are not the problem is often on both sides. In the things that matter we are allies so I was just commenting on this given all the blood-letting in many threads.

Stuart_Parker

There is a general axiom for discerning how supportive parties are of PR and how hard they work to enact it. Their support varies inversely with the probability of victory under first past the post. As long as the federal party must function as a coalition of provincial parties including the Saskatchewan, Manitoba and BC NDP, its support for PR will be tepid and short-term. Layton's interest in vigorously promoting the system lasted one electoral cycle.

The problem is that the very moments when the federal party is sufficiently influential to get PR through are when there is a political crisis in Canada and it looks like the party could make a breakthrough under FPTP, case in point, Dion's coalition. Ultimately, whether in 1972, 2005 or 2008 the "this is our shot at a false majority and a European-style realignment," thinking overwhelms historical perspective and principle.

Polunatic2

Quote:
Interestingly the BQ seems to have no trouble with PR in spite of the obvious cost to them of it.

Link? The PQ has made noise about PR in the past but have never followed through. 

I think that what SiamDave, HSFreethinkers, myself and others are trying to say is being over-complicated by KenS and others who are defending inaction and elevating it to some kind of strategic choice. I have said numerous times on babble that it would be great if the NDP added some resources to its website that would educate the party's membership and perhaps non-supporters who come to the website. I would have no problem if electoral reform was part of larger set of resources that includes other democratic deficit issues. All it requires is a researcher, writer and someone to post to the website. I have also acknowledged many times that the NDP cannot succeed in reforming the voting system on its own but that's no reason not to do the legwork. I think that the party may be underestimating the public's desire for some profound improvements to Canada's (and the provinces) democracy. 

Not doing the education groundwork (even if it takes years) will lead to a lot of confusion (including in the NDP base) when the time comes for a real discussion on the national level. People need to understand that the Alternative Vote (run-off voting) is not a proportional system and not the solution that we need (with all due respect to Stockholm). 

My earlier comment about Harper getting traction on the census was a bit muddled but what I was trying to say was that Harper was able to round up about 27% of support in no time at all. Not a majority, but also not an insignificant number. Obviously the opposition, media and others were also able to get traction on an issue which no one ever thought about before. 

Sean in Ottawa

Sorry I don't have time to go back and find it but I do remember the BQ as being clear about support for PR if there was ever an opportunity.

The rest of your post I can agree with mostly-- especially the part about making resources available. It is also possible to create a report using international data on the subject.

I totally agree with the complaint that the NDP gets a platform and for some reason wants an entirely new one each election. It makes it difficult to see what the party stands for and leads to the impression that the answer is not much.

There needs to be a core program and that can include a series of democratic and accountability reforms and there is no reason why the party has to remake them each election.

Part of the problem is the misconception that you have to make news with your platform each time. You don't and there are many other ways to make news. The idea that each party has to eek out a platform piece by piece and all has to be original and secret before the campaign leads to very poor public policy and poor political choice.

KenS

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

When it comes to PR, the NDP can respond but cannot lead this alone because the reaction has always been you will do anything that gets you more seats. Put another way the Federal NDP cannot promote it too much if the provincial NDP governments won't as they have less to gain other than democratic principles because they have won power without it. Looks too self-serving.

Overcomplication was mentioned. Only tossed in my direction.

This in particular is not something that we have run into. So you are saying that the NDP shys away from PR, because the inconsistency of the NDP provincial governments is going to show up and be a drag? Whether or not you mean it as the main reason for not wanting to pursue it.

Where would we find evidence of this, or to refute it? Even indirect evidence.

Intuitively, it doesnt make sense to me. Plausible? Yes, of course. But I dont see it as likely.

I think that if the NDP could get traction enough on PR that people were paying close attention, it wouldnt come up in any big way. The federal NDP is out of synch with what the sections and governments do on a regular basis. It does make fodder for those taking whatver position opposes what the federal NDP wants to do, but it doesnt stop the federal NDP from talking up the issue.

I just dont see this as a potential problem. And if it isnt, its not going to inhibit the federal party pursuing PR.

Stuart_Parker wrote:

There is a general axiom for discerning how supportive parties are of PR and how hard they work to enact it. Their support varies inversely with the probability of victory under first past the post.

If that were true then the federal NDP is supportive because no one expects it to win under FPTP.

Stuart_Parker wrote:

As long as the federal party must function as a coalition of provincial parties including the Saskatchewan, Manitoba and BC NDP, its support for PR will be tepid and short-term. Layton's interest in vigorously promoting the system lasted one electoral cycle.

The only way that the NDP is a combination of its sections is on the level of on the ground organizing- that no one outside the party even sees, and a lot inside the NDP dont really notice it either. The federal NDP and its sections routinely are on different policy paths. I already said dont think this would be a problem. Maybe someone would explain to me how it would be or some kind of evidence based on more than people's suspicions.

And I actually dont think the NDP has ever vigorously promoted PR. As long as Ed was around and pursuing it, he talked about it. And thats the extent of it, hardly vigorous promotion, or even close. My guess is that with Ed gone there is no deference to putting time into it because Ed wants to, and/or because there is Eds credibility to get it some notice. At any rate, without Ed it gets down to a harder calculation of is this going anywhere?

Stuart_Parker wrote:

The problem is that the very moments when the federal party is sufficiently influential to get PR through are when there is a political crisis in Canada and it looks like the party could make a breakthrough under FPTP, case in point, Dion's coalition. Ultimately, whether in 1972, 2005 or 2008 the "this is our shot at a false majority and a European-style realignment," thinking overwhelms historical perspective and principle.

This is outright pure specuation. And not even good speculation.

"Dion's coalition"- which probably came more from Layton- came after an election. Where was the "breakthrough possibility" under FPTP? And the possibility was over in under 60 days, so where is/was this phantom influence?

And shots at a false majority in 1972, 2005 or 2008- who knew?

 

KenS

Polunatic2 wrote:

I would have no problem if electoral reform was part of larger set of resources that includes other democratic deficit issues. All it requires is a researcher, writer and someone to post to the website. I have also acknowledged many times that the NDP cannot succeed in reforming the voting system on its own but that's no reason not to do the legwork. I think that the party may be underestimating the public's desire for some profound improvements to Canada's (and the provinces) democracy.

All you are looking for is something between 25 and 50% of policy staffing resources. Reallocated from where? what issues?

But your last point about the possible underestimating of potential is still valid, even if your guess of what could be put in is way off. Ed Broadbent would by no means not be the only one who would agree with you. Would include some MPs, no idea how many or what proportion. But then there's people like me, who think the limited resources would best be used elsewhere. [And dont worry, the resources arent wasted on fluff like developing communications around initiatives for lower ATM fees. It shouldnt surprise anyone that sort of thing does not take any policy staff time, and little communications time.]

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