21 May 2014

Kremlinology 47: If only saying it made it so #nlpoli

According to New Democratic Party leader Lorraine Michael, the party convention this past weekend was “a room of people who are saying, 'we're new, we're moving forward.'" [quote via CBC]

Would that merely saying the words made it so.

The reality is that the party isn’t new.  They aren’t moving forward either, except in the sense that time moves only in one direction and the province’s New Democrats are willing to watch the clock.  

The crowd at the Holiday Inn  endorsed the status quo, not change, and certainly they didn’t vote for anything or anyone new.  In fact, they emphatically endorsed the classic provincial New Democratic position of doing nothing that would risk them having to form a provincial government

Advocacy is their thing, if you read the Telegram’s account of the convention.

Michael, on behalf of the NDP, took credit for a moratorium on fracking, move-over legislation, adding transgendered people to the human rights code and whistleblower legislation — all issues that the governing Progressive Conservative party has enacted, but the NDP has pushed for.

That’s not advocacy.  That’s a rationalization that deliberately ignores the catastrophic loss the party felt in the past couple of years.  You sure didn’t hear Lorraine talking that way when her party was at the top of the polls and it looked like she’d be Premier in a minority Dipper administration:  “No power, please.  We’re New Democrats.  We’ll just stand over here and lecture you.” 

Not frackin’ likely.  Now that their chances for taking power in the province are dead,  Lorraine is claiming credit for stuff she didn’t do.  She talked about it.  Lorraine can claim as much credit for any provincial government action as any caller to Open Line.

Lorraine supported whistleblower legislation.  All the time she talked about it, the Tories in power did nothing.  The Conservatives finally decided to bring in a weak piece of legislation when they needed something to bring into the legislature once they slammed into the bottom of the polls. 

If Lorraine’s hectoring had any impact at all,  the Conservatives would have introduced the whistleblower protection in 2008, not 2014.

Lorraine had nothing to do with it, just like she’ll have nothing to do with a hike in the minimum wage. The Tories will raise the minimum wage if they think they can get some votes out of it.  That’s their motivation.

While Lorraine Michael is claiming credit for making the sun come up,  she should be worried about the dissatisfaction within her party. Some people are still drifting away months after the caucus split apart over the party’s lack of election readiness and Lorraine Michael’s leadership. 

The latest is Tony Adey,  who ran for the party in 2011. As the Telegram reported, Adey attended the convention but didn’t see the kinds of changes he hoped for.  And,  said the Telly, “Adey said he sees discontent within the party and believes there is a divide.”

That’s an interesting observation.   Aside from the crowd that bailed out last fall,  there were 30-odd of the non-Lorraine-loving New Democrats at the party convention.  They are the ones who voted for a leadership review.

One of the menshevisti might well be Gerry Rogers. CBC’s report about the convention showed some crowd shots. SlowtostandGerry wasn’t exactly leaping to her feet in enthusiasm for Lorraine Michael.

She took a while.

There’s no context for the shot so we don’t know if it came after Michael’s speech to the convention or after the vote.  But her body language said way more than Gerry’s applause and smiles.  In the shot showing Gerry and fellow member of the House George Murphy on either side of Lorraine,  Gerry was smiling but she didn’t seem to be showing the kind of fervour in the party that seems to have turned itself into yet another personality cult.

If your humble e-scribbler is reading the signs correctly, the half of the NDP caucus that is not named Lorraine Michael isn’t too thrilled with the leader who is. In a caucus of three  - if you count the leader – having one of the other two feeling a bit unsatisfied with the leader makes for a lot of potential internal political problems. 

And if your faithful scribe got the Gerry signs wrong, there definitely are other party supporters who don’t belong to the Lorraine cult.  They’ll either stay home come polling day or, what would be worse, work hard to see her defeated in her own seat. Stranger things have happened. That doesn’t bode well for the New Democrats either since they are already likely to lose St. John’s East and Gerry’s seat has a big question mark over it.

Those are the kind of problems, sad to tell Lorraine and party president Kathleen Connors,  that can’t be fixed with a few e-mails or tweets or by beefing up the website. They can only be fixed by doing the very things that Lorraine and Kathleen worked hard to avoid:  meaningful change.