Monday, May 9, 2011

Why the NDP's Days Are Numbered

The big headline in Monday's election was the surge in popularity for the NDP.  I'll admit that there were a few moments as the results started coming in where it was looking like we could be in for a Conservative minority with the NDP holding the balance of power or, even more catastrophic, an NDP government.

Then, the returns outside Quebec started coming in and it became apparent that cooler heads were prevailing.

The sudden surge in popularity of the NDP in Quebec is actually something that could very well become their undoing.  In fact, it could be argued that this is the very thing that the party did not want to happen.  Here's Why.

1.  The Quebec Factor

At dissolution, the NDP had 36 seats.  Only one of those is in Quebec  In this election, they won 102, but 58 of them came froim Quebec.  Basically, you take away those new Quebec seats and you have 45 seats, making for a relatively modest gain.  Nothing really to write home about in that their core support really hasn't changed.

The point here is that now, the NDP is going to have to deal with a constituency it's not used to.  A constituency that expects it to be constantly in the government's face dealing with Quebec issues.  Unlike the Bloc, The NDP has never been about just what's best for Quebec but suddenly, more than half it's support relies on it.

It is expected that in the next provincial election, the seperatist PQ will become the new provincial government.  We know what side the federal Conservatives and Liberals (what's left of them) will take if the PQ should initiate another referendum.  But the NDP is basically screwed no matter which side they take.

2.  Promises They Can't Keep

Jack Layton made a ton of promises during the campaign directly aimed at Quebecers.  

Quebecers, thinking that in a minority situation, the NDP might have some clout, gave them the support they would otherwise given the Bloc.

Unfortunately, being the opposition party in a majority government essentially renders them impotent.

The Conservatives basically don't have to do diddly squat with regard to any suggestions the NDP will make.  In fact, much like other majority governments have done in the past, you can pretty much expect the Conservatives to favour Conservative ridings when doling out the goodies.

This will come back to haunt the NDP when the next election rolls around.  Quebecers have no problem turfing MPs or a government they don't like.

What do you suppose they're going to do next election when they look back and realize that the NDP have done nothing to further the Quebecois cause?

3.  A House Full of Newbies

Among the newly-minted MPs are Canada's Youngest MP who, in a radio interview, suggested that it might be a good idea to respect the separatists and a young lady who, apparently, is Canada's ambassador to Las Vegas and who has never set foot in the riding she is about to represent.

Many of these people are young, inexperienced, and basically signed up to run just for something to do never expecting to actually win.  Well, guest what?

A number of radio talk shows have reported that the NDP is asking radio stations not to interview the new MPs because they haven't been "trained" yet.

Now, at this point, it looks like Stephen Harper is going to hit the ground running and Parliament will be in business by the end of May.  These newbies are going to become the laughing stock of the country once they open their mouths during question period.

Now, it's entirely possible that there may be a couple of bright stars in that lot, but it does make you wonder how many of these kids really have a clue what they're setting themselves up for.

Not only that but the Liberals are foaming at the mouth over a few "irregularities" with some of the candidates and demanding a re-vote.  It also wouldn't surprise me that a few of these people will wind up resigning once they consider that there is actually a fair chunk of work involved in being an MP.

All in all, it just looks like a huge screwup waiting to happen.

4.  Under the Microscope

Reconvening Parliament as quickly as possible will leave the Opposition running around like headless chickens trying to figure out what's going on.

You don't really expect the government to cut any slack to these newbies during question period, do you?

Likewise, you can expect each of these opposition members to find themselves under a microscope.  Every little flaw in their personality will be revealed as will any skeletons these kids have in their closets.  I'll bet we'll find out some stuff that rivals Jack Layton's trip to the rub and tug.

Now I realize that by saying this, I'm playing right into the hands of all the Harper haters who are now crying over how Harper is going to turn Canada into a police state and the 52nd state of the U.S.  But think strategically for a minute.  Just because the Conservatives are in a majority situation, doesn't mean that you should overlook your opposition.  There's always the opportunity that the opposition could build even more political strength and wind up snatching power during the next election.  I see it as nothing more than political gamesmanship.  The only difference is that this time, it will be like shooting fish in a barrel.

5.  The Jack Factor

Jack Layton is the figurehead, leader, voice, and look of the NDP.

Jack Layton is a sick man.  I wouldn't wish ill health on anyone, but the one question that he has evaded during the campaign is his health.  If it should worsen in the very near future, what then?  Who will take over.

Part of the success of the NDP is the personality cult of Jack Layton.  Right now, if you take away Jack, there's nothing left.

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