Sunday, June 14, 2009

Early returns

It was just over a week ago that Dwain Lingenfelter won the leadership of the Saskatchewan NDP. But he's wasted little time in putting somewhat of a stamp on the party's website. So let's take a look at what we can tell from how the site has changed - and how it's stayed the same.

To start with, there have been at least a few news updates over the last week, including one criticizing the possibility of public money being put into a nuclear reactor and one calling on the Sask Party to fund a cancer treatment in addition to Lingenfelter's congratulatory message to Darrell Dexter on the NDP's win in Nova Scotia. But then, those are fairly standard features on any party website.

What's perhaps more interesting is the video icon below the news items. There, since the picture on the front page features a screen shot from one of the NDP's election ads from 2007, I was all set to question why the party would be highlighting those again after the fact.

But the use of the screen shot from 2007 is purely a matter of using a pre-existing icon to point visitors toward new content. Rather than replaying the 2007 campaign, the link actually contains video footage taken at the announcement of the second-ballot results from the leadership race - complete with "NDP" chants before and after.

Which nicely captures the feeling of the convention for those who weren't able to attend, while also highlighting the party-unity message that emerged from the convention rather than some of the divisions that were more prominent beforehand. And it's a particularly positive touch that the main focus is on the enthusiasm of the membership, rather than on Lingenfelter or any of the other leadership candidates.

Of course, there's a long way to go in translating that enthusiasm into a stronger and more principled party. But at the very least, there's some indication that the NDP is headed in the right direction. And the more Lingenfelter's team makes sure the membership is heard in the party's renewal processes as well as on its website, the better our chances of getting there before too long.

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