The last few days have have full of discussion about the rise in Jack Layton’s popularity. Hard to understand – Jack Layton is a man who has made a career demonizing corporations and confusing a desirable state of affairs with a just state of affairs. In any case, if the polls are to be believed (and the they may become a self-fulfilling prophecy), Jack Layton’s popularity will bring the NDP to heights not seen since the days of Ed Broadbent. What does this mean for the outcome of the election on May 2?
My predication is that it means a Conservative Majority!
Look at it this way:
– Mr. Layton’s increased popularity in Quebec will amount to nothing in relation to the Conservatives (the NDP will just take seats from the Bloc). It could however mean something in terms of who will be the Opposition Leader. The conventional wisdom is that Mr. Ignatieff will continue to be the Opposition Leader. That is far from certain.
– in the rest of Canada Mr. Layton’s popularity will be primarily at the expense of the Liberals. The leaking of Liberal support to the NDP gives the Conservatives an excellent opportunity to win some of the closer ridings. Interestingly, the Conservatives could actually get fewer votes but win more seats.
– The relevancy of the Green Party will be a casualty of an increase of NDP popularity.
So, the moral of the story is:
If you want a Harper Majority then Vote NDP!
Here is an interesting article written in June 2010 from a respected commentator which suggest some of the same things:
Hébert: Jack Layton’s surge great news for Stephen Harper
June 02, 2010
Once in a blue moon, the political stars align in such a way as to give the federal NDP a bit of an edge over their Liberal rivals.
It is not a frequent occurrence. The last time it happened was in the lead-up to the 1988 free trade election, more than two decades ago.
For a period of months, then-NDP leader Ed Broadbent looked like a prime-minister-in-waiting.
Twenty-two years later, Jack Layton is on the way to matching Broadbent’s feat. His popularity far surpasses that of the NDP. He also towers over Liberal rival Michael Ignatieff in the public opinion polls.
According to a just released Angus Reid poll, an Ignatieff-led Liberal-NDP coalition would lose the next election to the Conservatives while a Layton-led one could secure a majority.
Those are highly hypothetical numbers. But they do reflect a trend. And they suggest that Ignatieff’s strategists are wrong to believe that a coalition with the NDP would trigger an exodus of Liberal supporters to the Conservatives but that they are right to suspect that he lacks the moral authority to take the lead of such a maneuver.
If the past is any indication, all of this is excellent news …for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives.
In the late eighties, Broadbent’s surging popularity gave the NDP’s pipe dream of entering the major leagues at the expense of the Liberals a big shot of momentum.
The two parties spent the 1988 campaign competing for the anti-free trade vote.
Their divisions facilitated the second Mulroney majority and helped usher in a fundamental change in Canada’s interaction with the United States.
But while the NDP came out of the 1988 vote with more seats than it had ever had, its score still left the party well short of second place. With Broadbent gone in retirement five years later, those gains were wiped out.
In 1993 the NDP did not even win back the dozen seats required to be officially recognized in the House of Commons.
It took more than a decade for the party to recover. Now, it seems that all is in place for a Liberal-NDP rematch along the 1988 battle lines.
On the heels of a stinging defeat in the last election, the Liberals are on the defensive from coast to coast to coast and going nowhere fast in Quebec and in most of Western Canada,
Like then-Liberal leader John Turner, Ignatieff is increasingly seen as a weak leader. To all intents and purposes, his party is stalled in voting intentions.
But then so is the NDP. Despite the uncertain Liberal performance, the party can’t break through a 20 percent glass ceiling nationally. In Quebec, a stand-alone NDP scores just below Harper’s unpopular Conservatives. In Ontario, it runs a distant third.
NDP strategists have apparently concluded that it is time to move in for the kill against a weakened Liberal party. Last weekend, Layton dared Ignatieff to try to force the government to split the budget bill before it is allowed to pass and Harper’s minority regime is allowed to survive.
To position the NDP as the only effective national opposition vehicle to the Conservatives, Layton is drawing new, deeper lines in the Liberal/NDP sand.
As in 1988, the next federal campaign and the potential advent of a Conservative majority could be a watershed for the country.
On this, the NDP and the Liberals are in agreement. But as in the days of the free trade debate it does seem it is all they will agree on between now and the next campaign.
Broadbent’s 1988 campaign was both his finest and his most counter-productive hour. A remake is now in the works.