"The party got off to a bad start with its election promise to balance the budget without raising taxes. That promise, difficult to honour during a period of general economic turmoil, would seriously limit its policy options."That quote, though fitting, was not about the last federal election, but was written about the Nova Scotia NDP, that got trounced after just one mandate. The author, Howard Epstein, was a long serving NDP MLA who wrote the book: Hope betrayed? The Nova Scotia NDP's rocky fall from power.
Epstein asks: "If the NDP can't differentiate itself from other parties, should it exist?"
That is a very good question. Federally, they are now back to third party status, in a Liberal majority, with a progressive platform; what will their role be? How can they possibly hope to rebuild when they have nothing to rebuild on?
Their appointment of the right-wing Thomas Mulcair as leader, and their disastrous election campaign, has left them rudderless.
Social activist Michael Laxer, on his The Left Chapter blog, also puts much of the blame on the NDP themselves, but sees their refusal to take responsibility as a major hindrance. They can't accept that they did anything wrong, but instead call for blind devotion and solidarity.
Solidarity that will be hard to achieve, when the true believers; the activists who coalesced around the NDP, have, as Laxer points out; already left. Or truthfully, were banished.
Covering the NDP leadership convention, John Ibbitson wrote:
Make no mistake about the importance of what happened in Toronto last weekend: Tens of thousands of New Democrats rebelled against the party establishment – a cabal of union leaders, academics, journalists and party apparatchiks – to elect an outsider.
They did it, in the words of one NDP supporter who was at the convention, because they no longer wanted to be led by “a comfy sweater.” Mr. Mulcair and Brian Topp, who finished second, were both seen as bare-knuckle politicians who could take on the Conservatives and win.They forgot that it was the "cabal of union leaders, academics, journalists and party apparatchiks" who helped to build the NDP.
Another social activist and NDP team builder, Murray Dobbin, wrote of Mulcair's leadership victory:
"Facing a ruthless tough guy? Get your own ruthless tough guy. And possibly create a monster you can't control. It is as if policy, philosophy, and vision for the country have simply been devalued to the point where they are an afterthought or some vaguely interesting historical relic."They are no longer facing a "ruthless tough guy" so do they really need Mulcair now? Not that it really matters, because without their activist base, who are they?
Those activists can now work with Justin Trudeau, to build the kind of Canada that we want to live in, since the NDP are no longer in a position to do much of anything.
And as CTV points out, there is still the matter of the 2.7 million dollars owed by current and defeated MPs, and with no money to fight the decision in court, this could very well spell the end of the NDP.
Even a petition to demand the resignation of Mulcair, is getting very little traction. It's like they no longer care. Why should they?
The emphasis will be on the Liberals and Justin Trudeau as they work to repair the damage done by the Harper government.
And with Trudeau, all comfy sweaters are welcome.