Casual commentary about political, cultural and economic issues with a particular interest on the city of Winnipeg by John Dobbin
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Liberals and NDP Merger
In short. No.
No, no, no.
I don't support the idea of a merger. The thought that it is needed to defeat the Conservatives sounds all too desperate and opportunistic. It also ignores fundamental differences in the NDP and Liberal party.
The NDP was never just a split off vote from the Liberal party. It evolved all on its own.
A few people point to the Conservatives and their unification as proof of a need for an NDP Liberal joining. However, the difference is that the Reform party received a lot of its support from an en masse transfer of Progressive Conservative support to Reform in 1993.
Despite Reform's origins with Social Credit, Liberal and Progressive Conservatives, it was the PCs and conservative movement that gave the the party its fuel.
In essence, the Reform and later Canadian Alliance party was a split between the Progressive Conservative party.
When The PCs and the Alliance merged, it was really about re-unification. The same cannot be said about the NDP and Liberals. It isn't about reconciliation because both parties evolved separately.
I do not support a merger with the NDP. The party is too different, not centrist enough, has too strong union control over its structure and policy and has too hostile a membership to business.
In the absence of a Liberal party to vote for, I have said that I wouldn't vote at all. I'd run myself or vote a worthwhile independent rather than the Conservative or NDP candidate.
In Manitoba, we have seen what happens when a Liberal party is not represented in the legislature. It is a much more nasty, left/right battle with no room for centrists.
Jack Layton was many things but he really wasn't a centrist. He certainly tapped a populist pulse but clouds loomed on his horizon in regards to Quebec nationalism, constitutional reform, defence and the economy.
The NDP party holds some ideas in those area that differ from what a lot of Canadians believe in. However, they were able to paper over a lot of that with a populist message. It is tougher to stay populist in hard times or when decisions make people fall on either side of an issue.
The NDP in Manitoba was able to stay popular in part with a growing economy over a decade. While it may not have been as good as some provinces, it was good enough not to change horses when it came to election time. Gary Doer kept a lid on some of the worst inclinations of his party and growing provincial and transfer revenue meant he could throw money at some problems.
As the NDP know now, it is harder to be popular when you are in deficit and tough decisions may be required. In Manitoba, they government of Greg Selinger is hoping to squeak in before a full reckoning is needed of some of the hard choices that will come.
I have preferred the different approach of the Liberals both provincially and federally. There are many times when I have disagreed with that party on matters. However, I have never liked the either or approach of simple left/right decision.
I don't want a merger of Liberal and NDP because I know for a fact that many Liberals would not be part of an NDP party. If there was a combined party, some might opt for Conservative, some might elect to have a split off Liberal party and some might find their way to Greens or others. Some, like myself, when presented with no choice might not vote at all.
The NDP should stay as they are and so should the the Liberals. Generate ideas, recruit people and fund raise. This is the best solution to being the ruling party. There shouldn't be an assumption that combining the two parties equals victory in the next election.