Monday, April 11, 2016

A leadership reviewed.

I was wrong. In particular, I made a key incorrect assumption.

The media has been telling us that Thomas Mulcair was unpopular because of the faults in the NDP campaign of 2015. Mulcair took a party that was leading in the polls and managed to finish third.

I had insisted, and still insist, that Justin Trudeau had more to do with this inversion of the progressive vote than Thomas Mulcair did. Running on the same platforms, the NDP still would have lost the progressive vote to the Liberals even if Jack Layton was still leading the NDP.

What I missed is the platform. Layton was always seen as a leftist, while Mulcair likely would have been more comfortable policy wise in the Liberal Party, or even the Tories.

The problem was the platform, and the fact that Mulcair was so supportive of it.

If the NDP had run on a left-wing platform, there's good chance they would have done better. Remember, people voted for Jack Layton and his left-wing NDP; Canadians were and are willing to accept a left-wing government.

As I outlined in the Saskatchewan election post, the NDP has serious problems with organization. I had assumed it was these issues that Mulcair was being blamed for, and with that in mind, I had assumed that he would take about 71% in the leadership review. With the policy problems in mind, his 48% is thus unsurprising.

What is surprising is the history.

The concept of a leadership review was inspired by the revolt against Diefenbaker in 1963 which nearly caused the government to fall. Diefenbaker held on to the leadership to 1967 when the Party President finally forced a vote. The leadership review was seen as a way to avoid such divisions in the future.

Parties began adopting the idea, and, since then, all major parties have held leadership reviews at their conventions. Federal and Provincial Liberals have had their own instances; Gordon Wilson and even Jean Chretien both chose to resign rather than face a potentially embarrassing result in a leadership review. Turner, who achieved 76%, decided to stay. Trudeau Sr's lowest was 81%.

80% has also been a good marker. PQ leader Bernard Landry resigned after failing to reach this level. Elizabeth May, and Preston Manning both remained over this level for their terms. Even Harper, leading the non-Progressive Conservative Party managed to beat this mark in his only review.

The PC Party has had quite a bit more trouble with leadership reviews. Stuart Murray, Manitoba Opposition Leader, and Ralph Klein, Alberta Premier, both achieved 55% and resigned over it. John Tory, meanwhile, captured 66.9% and decided to stay. The Federal PC Party has had more interesting results; Many know that Joe Clark resigned after getting 66.9% in 1983. What is lesser known is that he earlier decided to stay after getting only 66.4% in 1981.

As such, there is a fuzzy line, somewhere around two third of the vote (66.6%) that is seen as having passed or failed a leadership review. 55% was seen as a low, a very shocking low. What happened yesterday however was a first.

This leadership review will displace Joe Clark's 1983 review for one simple reason: this is the first time a party has ever voted "yes" to throwing it's leader out.

So what does this mean?

Tomorrow, not much.

However, some time in the next two year, we will be picking a new NDP leader.

I will be reviewing the possible candidates, as well as posting updates on Manitoba, and updates on politics elsewhere in the world, this week.

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