Dirty laundry

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It’s clear that, if nothing else, the provincial NDP caucus is not very politically astute. And that’s a bad thing for people who are, well, politicians.

Monday, news surfaced that four of the NDP’s five provincial MHAs — Dale Kirby, George Murphy, Gerry Rogers and Christopher Mitchelmore — had written a letter to the fifth NDP member, party leader Lorraine Michael, suggesting the party should hold a leadership review.

This, at a time when Michael has the highest approval ratings of any party leader and when the party has more seats in the provincial House of Assembly than it has ever had.

From the outside, it’s a little difficult to figure out exactly why. Perhaps the fab four felt that it’s been difficult for Michael to go from running a party of one MHA to the five it now holds. Perhaps, with a little political experience under their belts, they now feel they’ve got the right to make demands. Perhaps they don’t like her style — sometimes, the methods of a long-time campaigner nearing retirement are vastly different from what a party’s younger members feel is necessary.

Perhaps the strongest message in their letter is that they believe a leadership review is necessary to attract new candidates for the party, something that may well be a legitimate concern; it’s tough to grow a party, and if the groundwork isn’t already being done for the next election, there are clearly rough waters ahead for the party.

But when it comes to their method of handling this particular contretemps, they’ve blown it, big time.

First, there’s the fact they decided to send an email to Michael outlining their concerns, instead of handling it internally. How leaky is the party? Journalists knew about the letter before Lorraine Michael did. The letter was sent on Sunday and by Monday, it was on the news. It couldn’t have been more public.

Except, yes, it could.

The shortage of political astuteness apparently doesn’t end with Kirby, Murphy, Rogers and Mitchelmore.

Lorraine Michael decided the best way to handle the concerns about her leadership was to go on television and spread the whole mess as wide as possible.

It grew immediately from family fight to civil war. Chances are, it will continue to be messy, public and divisive.

Perhaps the NDP could have taken a leaf from the provincial Progressive Conservative playbook: stand loudly and publicly behind your leader, and keep the other discussions under wraps and off the printed page as much as you can.

Instead, they have handled this particularly badly, and given a tidy little gift to the provincial Liberals and PCs.

Think of it this way: if you can’t handle a caucus of five measly members, how could you ever hope to manage a province of some 510,000 people?

It is the NDP equivalent of snatching defeat from the jaws of potential victory.

It has turned into dirty laundry-fest of the first order.

Well done, folks.

Organizations: NDP

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Recent comments

  • Pierre Neary
    October 28, 2013 - 18:05

    Let's face it, it's been the orange elephant in the room for a while now.

  • david
    October 28, 2013 - 12:01

    The NDP could never, in its long history, be accused of being politically astute. It is a party idealists, fools, single-issue malcontents, and fringe voters without anywhere else to go. Not a collective to seriously fear achieving power, but one to fear if they ever did.

  • Ron Tizzard
    October 24, 2013 - 10:07

    “Everyone has a right to be stupid; some people just abuse the privilege.” The NDP members seem to fit the mould. So, so, so disappointing! It has just lost my vote...and has me very worried about my 'only other options'. I think I'll just bury it in the dump, with the other trash.

  • Maggy Carter
    October 23, 2013 - 13:32

    Someone opined recently that with the NDP meltdown the Tories and Liberals would be laughing all the way to the polls. While this is no doubt true of the Liberals, the NDP collapse is an absolute disaster for the Tories. Their only hope - and granted it was a slim one - was that the anti-Dunderdale vote would be split in 2015. That now is very unlikely. The NDP have done themselves tremendous injury, but perhaps in the long run they have done the rest of us a great favour. They have shown voters in this province that their party, the reliability of which in fiscal terms was always in doubt, lacks the maturity, discipline and cohesion to be trusted with running the province. This is not unique to Newfoundland. It has been the curse of the party all across Canada. In Nova Scotia where no party had been denied a second term in office in 132 years, it is not surprising that its first NDP government has just become the first. While most pundits are inclined to attribute the 'also-ran' status of NDP parties and governments to their failed policies, the truth is probably a bit more complex. It might have as much to do with the free-spirit personality traits of its adherents - those who carry the party banner and the voters to whom they appeal. It is generally much easier to get consensus on the far right than the far left. The former are united in their view that government should simply get out of the way, while the latter are divided by the myriad different expectations of how government should spend the public's money. It might sound unfair, but the one descriptor that keeps coming up in discussions relating to the NDP is the word 'flaky'. Given the extraordinarily bizarre nature of events over the past couple of days, one can easily understand where the 'flake' moniker comes from. Too bad in one sense in that most if not all of them are probably honest, well-intentioned politicians (which is a rarity in itself). But clearly they are far less comfortable with success than they are with failure. In any event the opposite ends of the political spectrum in this province are rapidly collapsing to the delight no doubt of the centre, which at the moment is held firmly by the Liberal party. The likely confirmation next month of Dwight Ball as the new leader of that party will probably cement that position going into the next election.

  • Jack Murphy
    October 23, 2013 - 13:02

    Party requires a leadership review, and a new leader to become an attractive choice & challenger in the next election. Lorraine may excite a small base; that does not get the party elected as a government.

  • david
    October 23, 2013 - 09:40

    The NDP couldn't run a cock fight. WE can only hope they'll never get the chance to prove it.

  • Jay
    October 23, 2013 - 09:32

    Joe, If the caucus members hadn't written this cowardly letter, there would have been nothing to leak. If Lorraine Michael hadn't totally over-reacted in her typically punitive way, this wouldn't be near the story it is. The NDP Party makes me laugh, on one hand, they'll complain about Bill 29 because the public has the right to know. On the other they'll complain if the public does know about anything that goes on within their party, hence the rush to blame a leaker. Don't hold your breath waiting for the NDP to repeal Bill 29 if they ever get elected.

  • Joe
    October 23, 2013 - 08:30

    It's not a caucus of 5 members that is the problem. It's the viper in your midst that released a confidential document. Why doesn't the investigative(?) media go looking for inside memos of other media or business and it's trade groups? Or like Rupert Murdock they could tap the phones of the Government members. I am sure you would get much more exciting news(?).

  • Kev
    October 23, 2013 - 07:23

    With or without Lorraine, the NDP was going to sweep the St John's area in 2015. Now they are done like Dunderdale. The NDP has set itself back to the 1970's. Has ryan Cleary been heard from?