Saturday, March 22, 2008

On consultation

I'll deal in more detail later with a couple of articles. But let's start by pointing out part of Bill Curry's article which seems to have been far too easily lost in an otherwise negative narrative:
Mr. Layton enjoys solid and widespread support within the party and his caucus. Part of that is because he has taken the party to 30 seats from 13 and has inserted himself into the political consciousness of Quebec.

Lesser known, however, is his commitment to consulting every corner of the party's grassroots. From provincial leaders, to candidates, to political leaders on campus, Mr. Layton spends virtually every free moment canvassing NDP supporters. Further, he scolds his Ottawa staff if they have not shown similar zeal.
Naturally there still figures to be some room for improvement. In particular, it's not clear from the story that Layton's strategy has taken the next step from Ottawa-centred consultation to putting similar effort into connecting NDP supporters - and more importantly potential supporters - across the country.

But Layton's commitment to grassroots input still stands in stark contrast to Stephane Dion's top-down appointments strategy, or Deceivin' Stephen's unwillingness to even consider outside input until his inner circle has completely run out of things to say. Which means that while there's plenty of room to criticize "politics as usual" in the abstract, the NDP's efforts to ensure that its grassroots get heard make it part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

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