Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Initial Thoughts on NDP Leadership Convention (#ndpldr)

So, what do I think is going to happen at this weekend's NDP leadership convention?

I've been paying attention to the media articles, the debates, and the Twitter feed. It's clear by all the folks talking about it - it's Thomas Mulcair vs the other candidates. The underlying belief is that Mulcair is not a true NDPer and his desire to make the NDP a "big tent" party is dangerous.

(I should mention that Nathan Cullen is talking "cooperation" with other parties to defeat the Conservatives ... but that's not really the same as expanding the tent.)

First off, the NDP is already a big tent coalition. There's a reason why the NDP go toe-to-toe against the Conservatives in certain ridings and against the Liberals in others.

In rural ridings or ridings with a heavy labour constituency, like Oshawa and Windsor, you have a strange mix of the social cooperative with the social conservative. Liberals do break out here once and a while - it's rare.

In urban ridings, the socially conscious but fiscally liberal New Democrat fights with the socially conscious but fiscally conservative Liberal. Conservatives break out here once and a while - again, it's rare.

Thomas Mulcair represents a change, perhaps, in a direction to expand that tent - to make the NDP competitive where the Liberals and Conservatives typically go toe-to-toe - Quebec and the suburbs.

Does that means a shift to the pragmatic "mushy" middle?

In attempting to keep Quebec and the suburbs with a shift, will the NDP lose their other core constituencies on which they've built the foundation for their current political success?

The line up to endorse Mulcair is long from a lot of those "foundational constituencies".

It appears to me, at least, that Mulcair is appealing to those folks who vote or would like to vote NDP - instead of those who are partisan New Democrats. Has he translated that support into convention ballots?

I don't think he'll win on the first ballot, but I'd be shocked if he didn't win.

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