On Tuesday, the Toronto Star published an opinion article by Tom Parkin, titled “Misunderstood polling data sunk NDP chances to topple Doug Ford.” After reading the piece yesterday, I sat in silence with my eyes closed for a few minutes, appreciating what it’s like to have a brain not warped by partisan politics. (My brain is instead warped by other things.)
Parkin’s Twitter bio notes that he has a “bluntly social democratic point of view.” It doesn’t specify if the “bluntly” here means his point of view is frank and direct or the opposite of sharp. Luckily, this article provides some insight into the matter.
Here’s a brief summary of Parkin’s argument:
- A May 25 Leger poll put support at 38 per cent for the Conservatives, 26 per cent for the Liberals and 24 per cent for the NDP
- Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca used this poll to argue that only the Liberals had a chance of beating the Conservatives
- The NDP couldn’t attract many new voters because “[NDP Leader Andrea] Horwath’s campaign could not kill Del Duca’s strategic voting pitch and its incorrect inference that Liberals were running second”
- Because of this, voters didn’t believe the NDP “had entered the election in clear second place,” and so the election wasn’t regarded as a “showdown with Ford”
- As a result, voters didn’t do what they supposedly would have otherwise done: “bandwagoned for or against Ford, boosting turnout”
- Instead, they either voted for the Liberals in a misguided attempt at being strategic, or didn’t vote at all
- As a result, the NDP lost votes instead of potentially closing a gap between them and the Conservatives
There are some alternative explanations you could offer for why the NDP lost. For example, you could say they did a poor job as opposition. You could say they didn’t offer a vision that voters could get behind and be excited about. You could say their decision to continue on with a three-time losing leader was a mistake. But I’m not here to do that. I’m here to focus on the explanation Parkin did offer.
Parkin is saying that after 12 years as NDP leader, coming into an election where the ruling faction absolutely botched its pandemic response, Horwath couldn’t overcome the results of a poll (that no one read) as interpreted by a leader (who no one knew, much less cared about) of a party that got absolutely demolished the last time around and wasn’t expected to have a chance this time either. Frankly, this is more insulting to the NDP than I could ever be, and I certainly do like to try.
This analysis from Parkin is a joke. I don’t take it seriously, and neither should you. What we should take seriously is how little responsibility the NDP is willing to accept for their loss and for their role in another four years of us being ruled by a party seemingly intent on letting us die for profit. Parkin — who ran a losing campaign to be the federal NDP’s candidate for Parkdale-High Park in 2019, and has worked with the party elsewhere — isn’t representing the party in any official capacity here, but his willingness to blame anything other than the NDP is a representation of it on a much deeper level.
Parkin correctly notes that there was plenty to care about in this election: “Housing, rent costs and homelessness. Long medical wait-lists. A mass exodus of burned-out and wage-frozen health care workers. Dilapidated schools. Climate change. Soaring gas and auto insurance costs. Stagnant wages. Two decades of social assistance cuts and freezes.” But instead of blaming the NDP for not offering compelling solutions to these problems, he blames the polls and Del Duca.
The morning after the election, I tweeted the following: “Horwath’s resignation speech was pathetic. Talking about how her team was the best in all of history, and how the party did so great. She should be apologizing to the province for helping hand Ford a bigger majority.
“I’d love for them to at least pretend they’re remorseful. I’m not exaggerating, by the way. Her words were: ‘You literally are the most impressive team of candidates that has ever been fielded, ever, in this province.’ […]
“I would love just once for the loser to say, hey, I fucked up, we weren’t good enough, we failed you, the guy that won is a scumbag who is responsible for the deaths of so many of your loved ones, he doesn’t deserve applause, neither does the other guy, and neither do I.”
As I said then, I’d really love to hear this sort of admission from Horwath. But since that’s probably never going to happen, I’d be willing to take it from an NDP partisan such as Parkin. Unfortunately, the party can’t even give us that.