A few pointers for the NDP
The gang at Progressive Bloggers is delighting in the latest Decima poll numbers showing the CPC in freefall. Scott Tribe, The Amazing Wonderdog, The Jurist and others have begun offering their advice to the NDP on how to build on their support. Herewith, my four cents.
1. On Quebec. Run candidates here by all means, but don't waste time having Jack Layton campaign here in any serious way. One token appearance is more than sufficient. Seats are not going to be won here, and the NDP needs to focus on winnable seats, particularly the ones that were lost in three-way squeakers last time around.
2. On Clarity. Furthermore, when speaking of Quebec and national unity issues, for the love of God don't say that you're going to repeal the Clarity Act. It's a complete vote-killer in English-speaking Canada, and will be doubly so in an election where the Bloc has the potential to pick up even more seats in Quebec. It's popular legislation, and whatever soft nationalist votes you might win in Quebec will be completely overshadowed by the federalist votes you lose in English-speaking Canada (including English-speaking Quebec).
3. On Gravitas. Jack Layton seems to be getting somewhat better at projecting an image of a sober leader, capable of leading the country. But there is always room for improvement on this front. In the English-language debates last year, however, Jack was grinning so much that I started referring to him as the Happy Elf. That's not good. (Of course, I referred to PM as Elmer Fudd and SH as Lego-Man, so Jack got off pretty lightly).
4. On Target Groups. This one is a little harder to call, and much of the debate right now seems to be about whether the NDP should play to its core or try to be Liberal-lite. My first thought is that adopting a strategy aimed at bringing back disaffected voters (especially youth), while a noble idea, will not be a particularly effective strategy. This is going to be the Gomery election, and I think it's unlikely that an appeal to people who don't normally vote will work in an atmosphere of political disgust. Frankly, the challenge will be to ensure that those who normally vote continue to do so.
Count me among those who think that the growth zone is among left-leaning Liberals, frustrated with the Martin government - and I'm biased, being one of them. These are individuals who normally vote, like socially progressive policies, but want them tempered with some fiscal responsibility. They will be attracted to a party with a vision (see the Trudeau years), as long as it seems attainable and well-thought out. For the most part, they are probably middle class (or aspiring to be so), and need to be wooed on this basis. To court this cohort, the NDP needs to throw off the shackles of the 1961 marriage of the CCF to the CLC, and ditch its rhetoric aimed at industrial unions. The unions have lost their ability to deliver the votes of their workers, and its time to move on and court those middle class voters with a social democratic bent.
I'll probably have more to say on this as the actual election approaches, but this seems to be a good start. Recommend this Post