Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Cardy, Smokey and a serving of New Year's whine -- Right wing 'progressives' ring in 2017 on a sour note

As 2017 began New Democrats in New Brunswick awoke to discover that their leader, Dominic Cardy, had resigned. He did so in a profoundly graceless and petty fashion, entirely befitting the man, by releasing a long statement essentially denouncing the party he had led as being ideologically backward, riven by internal divisions and not actually interested in taking power.

Nowhere does Cardy accept responsibility for the poor showing the party had under his leadership in the 2014 provincial election. Far from being perched on the verge of power Cardy led the party from zero seats in 2010 to zero seats in 2014 and the popular vote for the NDP barely increased at all going from 10.4% to 12.9%.

That this showing occurred despite Cardy having actually succeeded in driving the party far to the right and towards the type of "pragmatism" that was supposed to deliver the goods fails to enter into his deeply self-serving and basically fictional evaluation of what lies at the heart of the NDP's difficulties. It is a rewriting of history to not just absolve but to excuse what appears to be him now positioning himself for a flip to the Conservatives.

As usual it is all couched in the language of "getting things done", but that Cardy's version of "progressive" politics could apparently from his point-of-view be fulfilled under a Conservative government tells you really all there is to know about what kind of a "progressive" he really means and is.

There is a lot of this amnesia on the part of right wing so-called social democrats and progressives going around. As I have pointed out in the past (along with other commentators) for all of their alleged "realism" there really is precious little to show for the NDP's various shifts towards centrism. Far from a string of victories it has delivered nothing but defeat. 

Another prime example of these fantasy narratives in action comes from the increasingly humorous rantings of union leader Warren "Smokey" Thomas in Ontario who penned an article that included a ludicrous rewriting of the Ontario NDP past in the Toronto Sun on New Year's Eve. 

After dishing out some advice to the Premier and to the leader of the Conservatives, Patrick Brown, on how they too could be "working class heroes",  good old Smokey had some for Andrea Horwath and the ONDP:
Stop listening to the jabber of privileged wine-sippers with a view of the lakeshore because the majority of them haven’t been members of the party for years anyway.
Unlike the working class spread out across Ontario, this crowd of gossipers live in their own pretentious bubble wherein winning isn’t even the goal. For them, it’s easier to throw stones than lay foundations.
Brilliant and incisive stuff! Playing the old "Toronto elites" canard that goes down so well with reactionary voters who we all know are deeply inclined to support the NDP in some alternate universe that Smokey and his ilk inhabit, he also sees no irony in talking about a bubble by calling on Horwath to ignore the views of people who are not members of the bubble that is the party and its hardcore supporters itself! Clever.

Even more ironic though, is that Smokey seems to have forgotten that Horwath did, in fact, stop "listening to the jabber of privileged wine-sippers" in Toronto in the last election and did so to disastrous effect. Listening precisely to the advice of folks like Thomas -- who spent considerable time throwing stones and insults at left wingers concerned about the ONDP's unfolding campaign at the time -- Horwath and her clique thumbed their nose at the city and by doing so helped to allow Wynne and the Liberals pull off an unexpected majority government.

It is like to Thomas this never happened and that he never said the same puerile nonsense during the election itself . It all also ended rather badly for the ONDP! Surprisingly, Toronto voters, workers and progressives did not respond well to being sneered at and having their concerns and issues deemed to be "elitist".

Of course, admitting that he might have been one of the people backing the wrong strategy and that this was borne out by the election result would require some self-reflection and a willingness to reexamine one's own premises that does not really seem to be his forte.

This should all be kept in mind by the surprising number of leftists who thought Horwath's strategy of mindlessly backing Patrick Brown's anti-toll motion in Ontario recently was a smart one. Regardless of what one thinks of road tolls, it was not.

The right wing of the NDP in Ontario, New Brunswick and elsewhere remain convinced that the path to power either lies in mimicking the rhetoric and "pocketbook" driven politics of the right and trying to repackage this as some type of leftist populism, or in boring and staid centrist say-nothing campaigns like the last federal one.

That this strategy has not actually worked anywhere and that it has attracted opportunists like Cardy does not seem to factor into their perception of what is "pragmatic" and "realistic".

But then why let reality get in the way of realism?

See also: What is with all the Ontario left ranting about road tolls and Toronto 'elites'?

See also: What victories? -- Why the NDP's right is wrong...and DiNovo has a point!

See also: Death of a delusion: The ONDP's internal fictions and the Sudbury by-election loss

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