There is a scene in the legendary documentary “The War Room” in which James Carville is arguing that the press is holding the Clinton campaign to a far higher standard than the Bush campaign. Exasperated, he exclaims “if we say 50 plus 50 is 104, and Bush says 50 plus 50 is 104,000, the press would say both campaigns are exaggerating their numbers.”
Which brings us to this article that appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press on the weekend (and was reproduced today in the National Post) which makes the absolutely unreal claim that the NDP is “lost in the wilderness.”
In summary: “the NDP is in trouble because: a) NDP support in the polls is inching downward; b) Bill Blaikie has announced he is leaving politics, and; c) Buzz Hargrove says the NDP is finished.”
The point about the polls is just unabashed fallacy. Every poll since the 2006 election has had the NDP in a band of +/- 4.5% from the 17.5% the NDP got in election. The latest poll has them at 15% - well within the margin of error of 17.5%.
Compare that to the Liberal Party who were polling in the mid-30s during Stéphane Dion’s honeymoon and have crashed back down to the 29% they had 16 months ago. Or Harper who was elected just shy of 40% and appears to have hit the ceiling in the same neighbourhood. But where are the articles saying that these parties are in serious trouble?
Sure, the NDP is losing one of its long standing MPs -- the longest standing, in fact! But after 28 years of service, Bill Blaikie deserves to leave politics without it being warped into a condemnation of the NDP. Can the same be said about the 13 Liberal MPs who have announced their departure in the last five months? Ask Jean Lapierre and Joe Comuzzi who walked out the door after tossing a hand grenade behind them. But where are the articles saying the Liberals have "suffered a blow”?
Writing an article on the future of the NDP by interviewing Buzz Hargrove is like interviewing the head of BellGlobemedia about the future of the CBC. Of course Hargrove thinks the NDP is finished. He got kicked out of the NDP for telling people to vote for the Liberals and the Bloc Quebecois. Yet this is the guy the media flock to for a bon mot on the NDP? Where are the articles interviewing Scott Brison on the future of the Conservatives or David Emerson on the future of the Liberals?
The NDP is no more likely than the Liberals or Conservatives to dry up and blow away. In fact of the three of them – with the largest-ever campaign war chest, the largest federal caucus since 1988, and with Jack Layton, a leader that people actually LIKE -- the NDP is in the best position of any party.
But that won’t stop anti-NDP stories being written by the thousands . . . of course, there may be some exaggeration to those numbers.