Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mulcair's NDP ran a great campaign! We know this because they say they did.

By Fraser Needham

It has now been almost three weeks since the NDP suffered a devastating loss in the 2015 federal election and the party remains shell shocked as to what exactly went wrong.

The Liberals are forging ahead on their mandate after winning the party’s first majority government in 15 years. Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named his first cabinet this week with gender parity and significant minority representation. If early signs are any indication, it appears clear the Liberals intend to run a much more open and accessible government than their predecessors.

This, of course, wouldn’t be hard as Stephen Harper ran the most inaccessible government in Canadian history.

The Conservatives are moving ahead too. The party has already appointed an interim leader and is making plans to hold a leadership convention. There are also strong signs coming out of the caucus and party that the Conservatives realize they will likely need to moderate a bit and not be so hard right if they want to appeal to a larger portion of Canadians beyond the 30 per cent base Harper consolidated.

It is also likely that whoever becomes the next party leader; they will not rule the party with an iron fist like Harper did. It seems those days are finally over.

And then we have the NDP.

After close to three weeks, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair emerged from a self-imposed seclusion to hold his first caucus meeting and to speak to media for the first time since the election. However, Mulcair didn’t say much and what he did say didn’t make much sense.

The NDP Leader was quick to point out that the October 19 showing was the second best in the party’s history -- but this is not true. Sure, Mulcair’s seat count of 44 in this election is slightly higher than what the NDP got under Ed Broadbent in the 1988 election at 43. The only problem with this analysis is that there are now far more seats in the House of Commons than there were back in 1988.

Using the actual facts, Broadbent got 14.6 per cent of the seats in a 295-seat House in 1988 while securing 20.4 per cent of the vote. In this election, the NDP attained 13 per cent of the seats and 19.7 per cent of the vote in a 338-seat House of Commons. And of course Mulcair made no mention that the NDP lost over one million votes since 2011 and shed 51 seats from coast to coast.

The NDP Leader informed the media he was very proud of the campaign the party ran and made it out that it was him that stopped Stephen Harper and not Justin Trudeau. The truth is Mulcair did not stop Harper but his inept campaign certainly did give a lot of help to Trudeau. Perhaps when the new Prime Minister has time he will send a thank you letter to Thomas Mulcair and the NDP for all the unpaid and volunteer help they put in ensuring the Liberal campaign was a smashing success.

The NDP Leader also made the grand statement that the NDP opposition from 2011 to 2015 was the best Official Opposition the House of Commons has ever seen in it’s history – ever! Yes it certainly was effective. So effective that the NDP is no longer Official Opposition and sits in a distant third place in the new House of Commons. Now that’s progress!

So in short, we know the NDP ran a great campaign because they tell us so. They have come to the conclusion that voters cast their ballots overwhelmingly for change and that meant voting Liberal. Both the partisans and leadership of the party have no idea why voters choose the Liberals as the party of change rather than the NDP, especially when the latter led in the polls going into the election.

But you can be assured none of it had to do with the fact the NDP ran the most right wing campaign in the party’s history by pledging to balance budgets ahead of social priorities, increased funding for military and policing, wholehearted support for the oilsands, small business tax cuts, a refusal to tax the very wealthy and inaccessibility. Of course not, that is just left wing loony talk!

And wasn’t it just a very short time ago that NDP partisans were mocking Stephen Harper for refusing to invite defeated MPs to the first Conservative caucus meeting since the election defeat? Well, who did the exact same thing last week? You guessed it, Thomas Mulcair. It appears the NDP Leader is a lot like Harper in that he wants to head off any criticism of his leadership before it actually happens.

But wait, the NDP wants to get to the bottom of its epic election loss and Thomas Mulcair has commissioned that a report be written and presented to the party in short order. So who is going to head up this report? Is it going to be one or more of the many academics that are connected to the party who might actually be willing to write something truthful? Of course not!

The report is being prepared by NDP President Rebecca Blaikie and National Director Anne McGrath – two individuals who played key roles in the disastrous NDP campaign strategy. I am willing to save the party a lot of time, effort and money and write the report for them free of charge.

It will go something like this:

“There is no doubt the NDP suffered a setback in the 2015 election. We went into the campaign with the goal of forming the party’s first government but instead by the time the ballots were counted we finished in third place. There is also no doubt voters overwhelmingly voted for change in this election and they chose the Liberals as that agent of change. 

However, there are also many positives to be taken away from the 2015 election. It is our conclusion that the NDP ran a very strong campaign, which resulted in the second best seat total in the history of the party. We had an excellent platform, which was completely in tune with desires of progressive voters. It is also our belief that we have the best party leader who performed fearlessly and with passion on the hustings. 

So why didn’t average Canadians vote for the NDP as much as we had hoped? It is our belief that although the platform was certainly excellent and progressive, we failed to communicate its key planks in a way voters could understand. So it is our finding that we are not far away from where we want to be. What needs to be done is a tightening of our messaging so we are communicating our great ideas to average voters in ways they can understand. 

Some have argued that the NDP needs to do a major examination and revamping of where the party is at and where it is going. We believe this would be a major and fatal error. Although the party suffered a minor setback in 2015, we are well on the way to forming our first NDP government. The party is very blessed that Thomas Mulcair, the best leader in Canadian politics, has agreed to stay on.  

With Tom in the House to hold the new Liberal government to account, before we know it four years will have gone by, we will be in another election campaign and forming our first federal government in 2019. ‘Courage my friends, it’s never too late to build a better world.'”

Fraser Needham is a freelance journalist living in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He has been working and writing in Saskatchewan for the past 15 years. Aside from the Saskatchewan CCF/NDP, he follows Aboriginal issues and politics closely.

See also: 
As Liberals and Conservatives look for success, Mulcair NDP embraces failure

See also: Only those in the NDP can explain why Thomas Mulcair still has his job

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image via The Huffington Post 

1 comment:

  1. This is a sound, cutting critique of the debacle. Thank you, Michael. I did not realize until I read this piece that the defeated NDP MP's had not been invited to the caucus meeting last week. This is a bad sign. I will bring this up, and several other critical points, at the Quebec NDP's meeting in Ste-Hyacinthe Nov. 28th.