The only news to come out of the New Democratic Party convention this past weekend is that the party now has not one but two leaders.
Earle won’t be looking for a seat in the House before the next election. As a result, Lorraine Michael remains the leader of the party in the House of Assembly while Earle is now the leader of the party everywhere else.
It’s the worst possible position for the party, even if it fits precisely with the shrewd game Lorraine’s been playing over the past few months. She successfully called the bluff of other pretenders to the throne in January. Now she gets to share the leadership with Earle.
Reporters asked Earle where he might run now that Lorraine has decided to stick around. St. John’s North, they suggested, likely with some prompting from the NDP inner circle, a.k. the Lorraine cult.
St. John’s North is home to Dale Kirby, Lorraine’s favourite scapegoat for her own incompetence. She and her circle have blamed him for all the party’s failings since 2013.
There’s no reason for Earle to run there. He has no traction in metro St. John’s His own rhetoric is aimed firmly out beyond the overpass and into the province’s political past. Forcing Earle to run against Dale only plays into some demented revenge fantasy Lorraine and her posse have been nurturing since 2013.. .
Kirby won the seat in 2011 with a lot of hard work of his own. As the polls show, the people who voted NDP in 2011 have all flocked to the Liberals. Earle isn’t going to change that. Now Kirby has the Liberal voter identification machine behind him. That pretty much cements him in place.
Pushing Earle into St. John’s North only suits the Lorraine cult. She gets to keep the seat where a New Democrat might get elected in metro St. John’s. Lorraine, therefore, is most likely to get re-elected, while Earle will almost certainly get flicked to the curb.
In the meantime, the party remains politically irrelevant. With the exception of a short period in 2012, the New Democrats have polled at their historic levels, that is in single digits. In the most recent poll only seven percent of respondents said they would vote Dipper come the next election.
Politically irrelevant is where Lorraine and her backers want the party. They are not interested in taking power. Lorraine Michael and her backers consider it her great political legacy that other people did things she supported. Bet Daniel Ortega never thought that way.
Ignore all the talk about forming the official opposition next time. Forget the talk from Earle and Lorraine about how strong the party is. Forget too any suggestion that Earle will bring any sort of organization or organizers. None of it is true.
The truth is that the provincial New Democrats say things that union leaders and activists say. But those same leaders and activists can;t deliver support. Their members vote for the Liberal and Conservative parties.
The same is true of New Democrats. Seven percent would support the party according to the latest poll according to Abacus But when asked which party would best handle the economy, for example, 85% of those who would vote NDP felt some other party would be better at the economy. Five percent felt they’d be best able to handle the deficit, two percentage points less than would vote NDP. And nine percent thought the party would be best for health care.
When Earle McCurdy lambastes the Liberal and Conservative parties he is lambasting the voters he needs to switch to his team to give them any hope of winning any seats at all.
There’s also no small irony when Earle slags the Tories and Grits for having the same policies. Earle’s next breath is to preach a version of the Cult of Ruralism that would warm the heart of Beaton Tulk, Danny Dumaresque, or even Kathy Dunderdale. He’s going to have a hard time running in a townie seat which promising to skew politics in favour of the baymen.
The provincial New Democrats came out of the weekend convention in a worse spot than they were in. It’s hard to imagine such a thing, but it is true.