Monday, March 19, 2012

Thomas Mulcair is out of step with 60% of NDP supporters

Although Thomas Mulcair is popular with many NDP supporters, who admire his feistiness, his views on the 'new politics' idea of electoral cooperation are at odds with a huge majority of NDP supporters.

Thomas Mulcair's High Noon Us:Them Politicking
Mulcair has "pulled an Ignatieff" by huffily rejecting any idea of pre-election, during an election, or post-election cooperation with the Liberal Party aimed at preventing the Harper new Tories form the government after the next election.

But a whopping 60% of NDP supporters (and 59% of Liberal Party supporters) are in favour of that!

How's that for an aspirant leader being out of step with the party followers he wants to lead?

Mulcair's rigidity in refusing to even consider cooperation is a symptom of a hubristic flaw that I believe will harm his party should be win the leadership later this week – his High Noon worldview of Me against the World (I've written about this in an earlier post).

Michael Ignatieff had a very similar view of cooperation, and then led the Liberals into an historic defeat, even losing his own seat in the disasterous election.

Will Mulcair's single minded focus on what he can do to make the NDP the next government lead the NDP to similar problems?

The question is important because the Forum Research poll found the most support for the Cullen Plan of Joint Nominations in Quebec, the source of 59 of the NDP 103 MPs.

Mulcair's Rigid Refusal to Cooperate with the Liberals:

Mulcair is very clear about his absolute insistence never ever to cooperate in any formal or informal way with the Liberals, as he said in this interview with Huffington Post:

One thing Mulcair is clear on is that he’ll go after Liberal supporters, but won’t work with the rival party.

“N.O.,” he told HuffPost. The NDP tried to form a coalition with the Liberals in 2008 and then the Grits “lifted their noses up on it,” Mulcair said.

The coalition experience taught Mulcair everything he needs to know about the Liberals. They’re untrustworthy and he said he’ll never work with them again, whether in a formal or informal coalition.

His position could not be any clearer, and flies in the face of the wishes of most progressive Canadians, and of the most progressive NDP candidates.

The Wishes of Most Canadians for Cooperation between the NDP & LPC:

The March 5, 2012 poll by Forum Research is probably one of the most significant political polls taken in the past decade or so in Canada.

Here are the results in summary form (my underlining):

Majority of NDP, Liberal supporters favour joint nomination meetings

Six of 10 supporters of the NDP (60%) and the Liberal Party (59%) support the idea of joint nomination meetings for the next federal election, where only the strongest candidate of the three opposition parties would run.

As would be expected, Conservative supporters do not favour the idea (17%).
It was also found that younger voters were significantly more likely to back this idea (50% 18‐34, 49% 35‐44, 39% 45‐54, 39% 55‐64, 34% 65+), as were those living in the province of Quebec (58%; compared to 43% Atlantic, 40% Ontario, 30% Manitoba / Saskatchewan, 21% Alberta).

Note that half of young voters support this Cullen Plan idea of joint nominations – and remember that all parties are struggling to attract young Canadians to vote in elections.

Also, the highest support for the Cullen Plan is in Quebec, the province where Jack Layton led a breakthrough of the NDP in the May 2, 2012 election.

It is also interesting to note that a small minority of NDP supporters reject the Cullen Plan – only 29% (31% for the Liberals) oppose it.

Talk about being out of step with your supporters!!!
The Cullen Plan for Joint Nominations – What it is and What it isn't:

It is worthwhile to refresh ourselves on what the Cullen Plan really means, and why Nathan Cullen is promoting such joint nominations.

This is that Cullen wrote on his website about his two-punch Cullen Plan and proportional representation in  federal elections (my underlining):

In the short-term, we need to find ways to do politics differently with an aim of defeating as many Conservative MPs as we can.  In the long-term, we need to embrace voting reform so we can regularly elect governments responsive to and reflective of our country's values.

One of these values is co-operation.  When citizens and parties have put our differences aside and worked together, we've achieved some remarkable things.  In politics, these include universal health care and public pensions, which both came from New Democrats taking a risk and co-operating with another party.

If New Democrats can co-operate with other parties after elections - as we've done regularly, and to our credit -- why can't we find ways to co-operate with them before?

We can, which is why I've proposed holding joint nominations in Conservative-held seats.  These would work much like a primary, with progressive, federalist members -- the NDP, Liberals and Greens -- electing a candidate as we currently do, with the winners facing off to present one candidate, running under one banner (I hope the NDP's), against the Conservative.
Because local democracy counts, whether to hold such a nomination should ultimately be made by our members on the ground.

It isn't a merger.  Indeed, it fosters competition among parties.  But it does so before an election.  It also recognizes that there is growing overlap in the values of progressive voters of many political stripes.

Quebecers' recent openness to progressive federalism helped put New Democrats in an ideal position to lead a conversation about getting better politics.  I invite all of you to participate in that process to make your views heard -- so together, we can elect a progressive government that reflects Canada's values.

One of the priorities for that new government should be enacting electoral reform.  I recently released my ideas on this, which can be found on my website Chief among them is holding a referendum, asking Canadians if it's time to change our voting system - and, if so, to what.

We're in a small minority of countries that do not use proportional representation already. More than 75 democracies do in some form, including Australia, New Zealand and Scotland, all of which use Parliamentary systems like ours.

Ideally, we would move to a mixed-member system like those used in Germany and New Zealand. These keep the benefits of directly elected local MPs, while ensuring that Parliament accurately reflects the votes of its citizens. Mr. Harper would not win a majority with less than 40 per cent in New Zealand; indeed, in the Kiwi election in late November, the winning party didn't win a majority with 48 per cent.

I support both elements of the Cullen Plan – the joint nominations in  Conservative held seats, and a modified proportional representation system for federal elections, to replace our undemocratic first past the post system.

My Conclusion:

The NDP should not lock itself into a potential death spiral by selecting a leader who believes that his way is the only way, and that he can do it all alone.

The needs of the country should outweigh the desires of any individual politician, no matter how charismatic that politician is, and the needs of the vast majority of Canadians right now is to replace the Conservative Party as the government of Canada in the next election.

To do that, the Cullen Plan of pre-election joint nominations; no merger of the LPC and NDP; post-election cooperation; and the introduction of some form of modified proportional representation is the answer.

The country needs Nathan Cullen as leader of the NDP.

1 comment :

  1. I was going to join the NDP, but if Mulcair wins I will remain unaffiliated to any party. He's no Jack Layton by any means.

    If Cullen wins I will immediately join. I am very impressed with him.


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