Saturday, March 07, 2009

You should wish for the days of Bob Rae

The Ontario NDP selected a new leader today. Andrea Horwath has been selected on the third ballot and after a speech in which she spoke out against "theives" and "scabs". I am not quite sure who these people are, but she is undoubtedly striking out a position on the left.

I don't know too many New Democrat activists, but I suspect most of them think that striking out a position on the left is the way forward. Indeed, I think Murray Campbell quite probably captures their thinking well when he notes that Howard Hampton "helped re-establish the party after its devastating defeat in the 1995 election." Of course, he did nothing of the sort.

I've posted a helpful graph. It shows the three-party seat share won by each provincial NDP leader in each election since WW2. It's instructive for two reasons. First, it shows how exceptional Rae's victory in 1995 was. The NDP should not be expecting that kind of performance any time soon. But, second, it also shows how exceptional Rae's average performance was, especially stacked against Hampton's. Contra Campbell and many others, Hampton would have done well to equal Rae's worst performance. And he never did. Horwath should hope for the same.

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