Thursday, November 17, 2005

Serendipitous Meme-ing and the NDP

Goshdarnit, these memes are striking bloggers down like avian flu. J.Kelly Nestruck at On the Fence has tagged me with the 23:5 meme. You're supposed to find your twenty-third post, and post the fifth sentence from that blog. As these are infectious little buggers, you're then supposed to tag five more bloggers. I'm pretty late in the chain on this, so most of my regular blogs have already been hit. So, I'll content myself with two: Idealistic Pragmatist and Paul Wells. Kelly suggested that I should write a story that starts with the line, but not being a literary type, I'm going to content myself with a commentary.

My 23rd entry was on April 27th, when Jack Layton had just secured his big concession from Paul Martin. Line 5 of the entry read:
He's managed to get more media coverage on this than he has since he was selected as head of the NDP, and I'm including last year's election campaign in that assessment.
I want to tag on line 6 as well which read: In an election campaign, the NDP can paint itself as relevant, and a key player in a minority government scenario, that can get its objectives adopted by the government in power.

Interesting that this particular entry should be pinged, given the current state of the NDP/Conservative/Bloc power play to oust the Liberals. In his column in the National Post today, Andrew Coyne suggests that since a minority Parliament will be the most likely result of the impending election, Jack Layton has painted himself into a corner, and is indirectly supporting Stephen Harper. Coyne's argument boils down to this - if the NDP cannot support a corrupt Liberal minority government now, they can't do so after the winter election either without being hypocritical; ergo they must support a Conservative effort to form a minority government.

I really hope Canadians don't read Layton's manoeuvre this way. I think his ploy to force the early election was a mistake. In the spring, the NDP was riding high, getting their policies adopted, and seeming above petty Parliamentary games. In essence, they could have entered an election saying "Yes, the Liberals engaged in corrupt dealings with the Gomery report, but as long as they are a minority relying on us, Canadians will get the policies they want. The more seats you deliver to the NDP, the more we have clout in Parliament." I fear that these days the NDP is looking like Harper-lite (or Harper-left), having placed a health care ultimatum on the table that was unlikely to be accepted, and then cozying up to the opposition party games.

And for what reason? An early election doesn't help the NDP. Duceppe benefits from Gomery - Layton does not. Frankly, given polling numbers, it looks like Harper might not either. Rather than announce that the NDP was going to bring the government down, it could have voted against bills that it disagreed with, and if the government fell, it fell. Conversely, it could have continued to press Martin to make his legislation NDP-friendly. The non-confidence motion makes the NDP look delusionally opportunistic, and narrowly partisan.

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At 11:49 am, Blogger J. Kelly said...

I think Layton made the right choice because it wasn't opportunistic or narrowly partisan! As you point out, an early election doesn't help the NDP -- it's a real gamble; even if they win an extra seat or two, they could very well lose any power that they had.
So the decision must have been based on principle.

At 5:09 pm, Anonymous JBG said...

I think Jack has made the right choice as well, but for very opportunistic and narrowly partisan reasons. Namely, a Parliament ever so slightly shifted towards the stable side of the status quo so the NDP could hold the true balance of power. Martin's desired timing is all about increasing Liberal chances at a majority. However remote that possibility, it's far more intolerable to the NDP than what we have today or the result we'll get with an election in the next 2-3 months.

At 7:17 am, Blogger Matt said...

You may be right JBG in your analysis of Layton's motivation. My concern is that I don't think he has read the electorate right on this one. I suspect that the sooner the election is held, the better that both the Bloc and the Conservatives do. When those two parties are running high in the polls, it makes leftie-Liberals, or Red Dippers, nervous about the outcome of the election, and they vote Liberal.

I don't think that Martin would be able to get back into majority territory by spring, but the post-Gomery buzz might have died down enough to make NDP voters more comfortable in their choice of the NDP, which would have given them the extra few seats they needed.


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