Self awareness can be a curse if you have too much of it but in politics it’s critical for success. Unfortunately parties have a tendency to repeat their own talking points and spin so often they come to believe their own baloney. This happens when a party is in power for too long, which is what happened to Manitoba’s NDP. But after a loss that self awareness is more important than ever. The new, smaller NDP caucus must come to grips with why it is in opposition instead of government. In the days following an election emotions run too high for a proper analysis but now that the dust is settling it’s time for the NDP to spend some time in serious reflection. The truth about what happened on April 19th runs much deeper than the hated PST hike or the fall-off in popularity of leader Greg Selinger. It would be far too easy for the party to write off the drubbing at the polls to those factors but the rejection of the party by voters is much more complex.
The PST hike and Selinger’s unpopularity were tipping points but they were part of the bigger picture of the failure to reduce hospital wait times, the consistently poor rating of Manitoba’s public school system, the mess that is Manitoba Hydro, the government’s inability or unwillingness to be a sound steward of the public purse and the lack of progress in in the CFS file to name a few. The mean spirited treatment of both the Osborne House leadership and Assiniboia Downs also showed that it was time for this group to be placed in political time-out.
For the NDP to regain the trust of Manitobans to to provide a reasonable alternative to the current government the party members must face up to these realities. In the months to come we’re going to learn how much of that self awareness the NDP has. The party’s future prospects will depend on it.