Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"NEW" democrat Mulcair in '50s apparatchik suit

An astute Conservative political observer I know urgently phoned me about a year ago to tell me of his unfavourable impressions of Canadian Leader of the Opposition Tom Mulcair's style of dress.

He felt it (and it alone) was going to kill Mulcair's party's chances at the next Canadian general election.

(To remind future historians: Tom Mulcair was the former leader of Canada's permanently in third place democratic socialist party.)

Mulcair's party calls itself (and it deludedly even believes it of itself) Canada's "NEW" democratic party.

a Cold War Era public relations disaster

Always shortened to NDP by the left wing party's many enemies, dating back to its birth at the height of the Cold War - a subtle but effective dig at MVD/KGB and other similar names much loved by foreign left wing parties.

(And a permanent electoral disaster for the new party, but one totally of their own making in how they chose to name their party.)

Full disclosure : I was a New Democrat myself for a long time, and tired of repeatedly hearing the NDP being described as communist at the doorstep, introduced a resolution to drop the 'new' out of the Nova Scotia provincial party's name.

My nominal excuse was that the name was now more than thirty years old, my real aim to have 'the NDP Party' (sic) be given a friendlier nickname, called perhaps the Dems by the public, just like the Tories and the Grits.

I very publicly failed to even get a seconder to begin the discussion - an almost unique event for any resolution at an NDP convention in my experience.

I heard repeatedly from colleagues, up to and including the new leader, that this name would confuse us with the Americans (who have a Democratic party too).

"And that is worse than being confused with the KGB ?", I asked in vain.

So a new reality check : Mulcair's party has now had that "NEW" moniker ever since 1956, and that absurd claim will actually be old enough in January of next year to collect its Canada Pension.

 And it certainly looks old enough to need it.

As my Tory friend pointed out, the more politically conscious voters already sensed an inchoate contrast between the youthful, energetic, unconventional new leader of the main competitor of the NDP, Canada's Liberals, and the older and much stiffer leader of the NDP.

That mental impression would only be heightened and made concrete by repeatedly seeing Mulcair in ill-fitting (and well out of political fashion) baggy suits.

I hadn't really paid much visual attention to the NDP and Mulcair for years but I grabbed a Youtube video or two to observe the guy and my friend was 110% right.

Apparatchik wear, circa 1952

My God ! Mulcair's suits looked like they had been plucked out of the closet of a recently deceased, lower level, Soviet era apparatchik.

Just the kind of clothing (not) to wear, if you wish reassure older middle class voters that you aren't part of the nationalize-everything-in-sight Fifties era socialists.

I hadn't seen anything that passe since I was a kid myself in the early 1960s, avidly reading my Time Magazine each week.

How could Tom get away with it, if the NDP considered itself to be so hip and with its many LGBT members so keenly conscious of currently attractive menswear ?

Even the Conservative Party leader Harper, considered to be someone born with a pickle up his wazoo, didn't look anywhere near as out of fashion and stiff as did Mulcair.

A Mulcair leading, as once again I remind you, Canada's "NEW" democrats !

The baggy suited, ill-fitting NDP lost half their vote and half their seats in a month, once less-interested-in-politics Canadians finally got a good look at Tom.

Then they too began to mentally contrast Mulcair's staid suit and staid policies with the hip new suits and hip new policies of Trudeau's Liberals.

C-51, Niqab to your eternal credit

Come on grey-haired N-Dippers, give it up - drop the "NEW", give it its CPP, and simply call yourself 'The Democrats'.

You've certainly earned that name - never forget it was you and you largely alone that attacked Bill C-51 and defended the niqab in the name of Canadian democracy.

Drop the once so hippie-hip 1970s era dayglo Orange

And drop the remnants of 1970s era dayglo Orange too - go back to the green you had in the early 1960s.

But maybe even make it a nice shade of two colour blue green and consider an informal coalition with your other competitor, Canada's Greens.

Ditch the stiff guy with the ill-fitting suits for someone who looks like they belong in the 21st century.

Then you might finally have a crack at becoming part of Canada's next government.

And then introduce PR voting, to make sure that your time spent at the PM's cottage becomes more than a Rae/Dexter one time thing....

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