Thursday, November 24, 2011

On base support

The leadership tabs are piling up on my end, and I'll assemble a number of them into a post shortly. But one recent development looks to call for a post of its own.

The main question I'd see facing Peggy Nash for the balance of the leadership campaign is whether she can connect with current and prospective NDP supporters in Quebec. But Pierre Ducasse's endorsement looks to give her instant credibility which other candidates will have a lot of trouble attacking: in particular, anybody pointing to the Sherbrooke Declaration as a turning point for the party's growth will have to tread carefully in dismissing its architect.

Moreover, Ducasse's endorsement sets up a fairly neat distinction between three of the main contenders as to their main sources of support. Nash looks to have the inside track with what I'd describe as the NDP's activist core - with Ducasse, Alexa McDonough, and a bevy of longtime progressives who have been working on building the left and the federal NDP since before Jack Layton won the party's leadership in 2003. And that makes for a contrast against both Brian Topp's reliance on the party's existing power structures (including parts of both the existing leadership apparatus and provincial politicians past and present), and Thomas Mulcair's base in the burgeoning Quebec wing.

Of course, it's anybody's guess as to which of those support profiles will win the day - or whether another of the contenders will be able to generate enough positive impressions with another base to win over members by March. And once again, the best outcome for the NDP will be if all of the candidates can drum up support which will then stay with the party for years to come.


  1. James McLaren6:17 p.m.

    It'll be interesting to see how the debates go.  My sense is that support is pretty fluid right now and members will get behind someone who looks to be able to build support among the broader voting public.  Maybe I'm just speaking for myself here but I'm looking for someone who can win the next election and be PM.  No more "moral victories".

  2. Agreed that there's plenty of campaign to go - for now the best most candidates can do is to set up enough of a national network to take advantage of opportunities as they surface in the debates and in the greater media exposure as voting day approaches.

    And I don't doubt that most members will similarly see a plausible strategy to win the 2015 election as a must. (Though I'd think there will also be plenty of need for discussion as to how candidates will handle government if they get there - in terms of both policy priorities and leadership styles.)