Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saskatchewan NDP Convention 2010 - The Near Future

As promised, I'll take a couple of posts to follow up the Saskatchewan NDP's Prince Albert convention, starting with my take on where the party stands in the leadup to the 2011 election.

From my perspective, the convention looked to serve two purposes for the party, and it looks to be at least a moderate success on both fronts.

First, the convention served as an opportunity to frame Dwain Lingenfelter's leadership for the party's members in order to counter the Sask Party's attack ads (not to mention the media's skepticism). And while I'm not a huge fan of pouring too much effort into building up The Leader, the convention seems to have achieved its purpose without going too far over the top.

Not surprisingly, the weekend included plenty of work to reinforce Lingenfelter's stronger themes like hard work and strong management. But more importantly, Lingenfelter also spoke to younger, newer members with an anecdote about his first day on the campaign trail as well as a consistent message of inclusion within the party. And there doesn't seem to be much room for doubt after the weekend that any divisions within the party from the time of last year's leadership convention have been worked out in favour of a united effort behind Lingenfelter.

The second main task was setting out the roadmap to the election for party members. And the NDP's election planners look to be setting some remarkably ambitious goals - focusing not merely on targeting just enough seats to win back power, but on running strong and fully-funded riding campaigns across the province while also getting into the ad game as early as this spring.

Now, I'll be pleasantly surprised if the all-riding part of the plan is met in full. But the combination of the provincial equivalent of a 50-state strategy with the party's ongoing policy renewal process looks to create the best possible conditions to bring more people into the NDP tent.

Which isn't to say that anything figures to come easily for the NDP going into 2011. But the combination of a united party, a willingness to work and a well-thought out election plan isn't a bad base to build on. And if the policy renewal process lives up to its potential to add a visionary platform to the mix, then the Wall government might well end up far less comfortable than it may have expected by the time the official campaign rolls around.

For more about the convention, see the latest from Kent.

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