Friday, January 22, 2016

The Toronto Sun and National Post think Tom Mulcair should stay on? No way!

While an increasing number of people are questioning the very grip on reality of the members of a political organization -- in this case the NDP -- who would consider supporting as their "leader" a politician who had blown an historic opportunity as badly as Tom Mulcair did, happily for Mulcair there are those rushing to his defense.

The editorial board of the Toronto Sun and National Post columnists!

That is right -- the right is rallying to keep him on as leader of a nominally social democratic party that there is absolutely no chance they would endorse during a general election whether led by Tom Mulcair, Tommy Douglas, Tony Blair or Karl Marx.

Given that their politics is antithetical (allegedly) to the NDP's, the question is why they would bother?

On the surface both the Sun's board and Post columnist Michael Den Tandt claim that he is a strong leader who could have won it all but was derailed by circumstance -- namely the niqab issue in Quebec and his misunderstood stance on balanced budgets. Both claim that the niqab stand showed that he was a man of principle and both feel he will be vindicated on balanced budgets when Trudeau's "ultra-ambitious" (to quote Den Tandt) spending promises cause the deficit to spiral out-of-control and the sky to fall or whatever else right-wingers feel will happen anytime anyone suggests the very stimulus spending that actually saved capitalism in the wake of the 2008 crisis.

They never do seem to remember those huge Conservative stimulus deficits do they?

Both mock left critics of Mulcair as being hopelessly out-of-touch, demented socialists, etc, etc, etc.

In truth, all of their defenses of Mulcair really do not hold up terribly well under scrutiny.

The niqab issue is a total canard tossed around by party apologists that simply makes no sense given that Trudeau took just as forceful a stance on the issue as did Mulcair and in equally strong terms. When pressed on this people using this line can never explain why this issue supposedly derailed the one campaign but not at all the other. Perhaps it was moonbeams or reverse pyramid power.

Or perhaps is was that Mulcair always came off as inauthentic when Trudeau did not.

As to his apparent "fiscal prudence" what they leave out is that Mulcair still insisted that his program, such as it was, could be realized while he could also commit to balanced budgets.  Canadians smelled a rat as this was obvious nonsense. Given that it was clear that any government that won the election was going to be facing a deficit the fact is that there were two alternatives -- deficit spending or austerity and cutbacks.

Trudeau was the only leader offering the former and Canadians chose his vision over either the outright promise of austerity by Harper or a narrative from Mulcair that reeked of being a campaign trail fiction and would have proven to have been had he been elected.

The Toronto Sun even went so far as to haul out the old myth that "successful prairie socialism in Canada -- unlike its failed eastern Canadian cousin -- has a history of expanding the welfare state, while being fiscally responsible." The problem with this decontextualized nonsense, among other things, is that, as commentator Fraser Needham pointed out here on The Left Chapter a few months ago, it is simply not true!

As for Mulcair's much vaunted leadership skills, the election result sort of speaks for itself on that front. Given the incredibly centralized nature of the NDP and its campaigns now there really is no one else to blame for this fiasco than Mulcair and his immediate "strategists" and party enforcers.

But these surface arguments act as little more than cover for what really lies at the heart of their desire to see Mulcair stick around.

Part of this is likely that Mulcair has made the NDP so similar to the Liberals ideologically that these pundits are hoping that given another toss at the crapshoot that is bourgeois electoral politics in Canada right now, Mulcair just might eat into enough Liberal support in 2019 to allow the Conservatives to topple Trudeau, who they despise with a deep and abiding passion.

But more broadly, as long as Mulcair or someone like him leads the NDP then there is no meaningful left in Canada. His leadership of what was once a socialist party represents a triumph of the neo-liberal and capitalist narrative in Canadian politics.

If Canada's "social democratic" party is led by someone who shares their fondness for the memory of Margaret Thatcher, austerity inducing commitments to balance budgets regardless of circumstance and who would never use the term socialist to describe himself or his politics under any circumstances, then they have won in the grand debate over what type of economy the country should have fundamentally.

While they may well be right that an avowedly socialist or even stridently social democratic NDP would not "win" the next election, it would have a reason to exist as something other than a second liberal capitalist party and its presence would push the political discourse to the left as the NDP and CCF did for decades and as Bernie Sanders is doing in the United States right now.

Why do the Toronto Sun and National Post columnists want Mulcair to continue to lead the NDP?

Because as long as he does there can be no inspiring and interesting Sanders like campaign and there can be no chance of a Canadian version or echo of Corbyn. The NDP will remain fundamentally irrelevant and  continue to pose no threat of any kind to the system even were it to get elected.

And why would these right-wingers not want to see that?

See also: Just forget about a Canadian Corbyn -- How a lackluster left in Canada gets the Mulcair it deserves

See also: The NDP, Nathan Cullen, Paul Dewar and the Canadian social democratic delusion

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