Should the left support the NDP

The NDP, a party of promises, a party of ideals, but should they really be the choice of a left wing vote? Luckily for them they have never had the chance to make a federal government, which gives them a wonderful position of not having any scandals or screw ups to have to hide or try and justify. This leads to a platform of ideas, promises of a better Canada, a Canada of democracy for the poor, the working class, and the small business owner, those that the other pro-business parties ignore or abandon. This lack of actual federal decision making gives supporters a hope, maybe they will be better, maybe they can make a change. This seems to be one of the major issues with supporters I have talked to, the naïve belief of a party’s stated positions. They will always lambast the Conservatives, and the Liberals, for broken promises, yet they turn to the NDP platform and say they support them because of all these wonderful things they will do when in power. This is the power of never having had to implement any of said promises; you appear to be the trustworthy ones. We all know the other two parties never implement, or when they do it’s ineffectual and poorly done, any of their promises for the working class, or the poor. However the NDP is one of the few parties where their provincial wings are an integrated part of the federal party, which can help give us a view into what an NDP government is.

It is important to note that this isn’t just a question of keeping to promises, there are many who understand that even their party of choice will never do everything they say, it is a question of principles. While many acknowledge that they might not do everything they say the NDP are still a socialist party who will work in the interests of all, not just that of big business. It is this which an examination of provincial parties can help with, looking into whether the NDP really do work for the people or if they are just another pro-business party. Not wanting this to be so long that no one will read it I will just look at some brief points from NDP provincial governments, and may possibly at a later date post some more in depth analysis. One major point would be the Social Contract of Bob Rae, an austerity measure to deal with the recession in Ontario during the 90s. Instead of imposing austerity measures on businesses, or taxing those who profit greatly from said business, Rae instead decided that the most prudent way to deal with deficit was to attack public workers. Forced unpaid days of leave, ‘Rae Days’, were implemented, along with wage freezes. A very socialist move, making the workers pay for the economic failure of the government and businesses. This lost Rae most of his support from unions, the main NDP supporters, and is a move from which the Ontario NDP has never recovered. If a clearly pro-business and anti-worker stance such as this is not enough to get them removed from the federal party, while the Quebec NDP supporting the people’s choice on sovereignty is I don’t see any way of claiming to be even remotely left-wing and supporting them. We also have had the BC NDP sending the police and army against Native protestors, again to which the federal party did nothing.

Jack Layton’s condemnation, more of a scolding, of the police handling of the G20 while good most certainly did not go far enough. As he did nothing of the sort when the BC government was treating Natives far worse, it would seem that this is nothing but a statement possible only because of his position away from power. There is also the question of the massive amount of union support for the NDP. This may not seem like a bad thing, and would seem to be a clear showing of the fact that the party really does care about workers, but on close examination it really isn’t. The unions which offer their support for Layton are nothing more than pro-business unions which due to their bureaucratic nature are separated from those they claim to represent (a topic about which I will soon make a post).

All in all it would seem that in practice the NDP while being ostensibly more left than the other major parties are still not the party of the people they say they are, with actions that would point to them being almost as pro-business as the Liberals. The NDP should not be the default vote for those from the left-wing; they are nothing but bureaucrats who work in the interest of other bureaucrats and bosses. Real change does not come from reformists like Layton, or the business pandering of the union heads who support him. As history has shown without mass action of people the government will never really take the interests of the masses into account, and will never do more than placate them with small changes.

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~ by Chris Stevens on April 12, 2011.

One Response to “Should the left support the NDP”

  1. I commend your analysis of the NDP and support the conclusion that the NDP isn’t really a party any self respecting lefty should vote for. The problem is that there isn’t really an alternative to them, Maoists just don’t have what the people want.

    No doubt the NDP’s appeal is partially based on its lack of experience (seems similar to sex: people fantasize about virgins but when it comes down to it experience is everything). The problems identified with the NDP are more likely to be systemic problems than problems with the party. The system in place is built around capitalist liberal democracy which means that businesses, unions, political parties and civil society all get to help in decision making. When a party gets into office it is confronted with the system that has been constructed and must function within it, the NDP has never promised to break this system so we must assume they too endorse a version of it. As a result they will be unable to care for ‘the common man’.
    The example of police being used against native protesters in BC is a good example: the police force (or army) is not under political control and it would be disasterous if it were to be, we have more than enough examples all over the world of politicised police forces. No doubt the police and governing party will consult and the BC government could have initiated an enquiry but given the fact that even the most radical of Canadians (excepting natives) are living on stolen lands (except for the few treaty lands and those are in some ways questionable) it is highly doubtful that any enquiry would be commenced because to genuinely address the concerns of natives would be to deligitimise Canada. Again, the NDP is merely working within a system constructed and endorsed (not always consciously or willingly) by the people of Canada and it is with them that all blame must lie if the NDP cannot fulfill its promises. The NDP could also be more realistic and do its best to overcome the shortcommings of the political system.

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