Any good pundit (for is that not what I aspire to become?) must dispense with caution and modesty from time to time and, in godlike fashion, attempt to predict the future. It is a virtually risk-free enterprise. If my prediction turns out wrong, no one will notice or care, because the political commentariat never gets these things right anyway. If, however, my prediction is borne out, I will be showered with fame and fortune as a prophet and soothsayer, notwithstanding the laws of statistics which dictate that even the unlikeliest of occurrences is bound to be correctly guessed by some clueless schmuck somewhere.
So here goes: I hereby forecast that on March 24, Peggy Nash will become the next leader of the NDP.
“But Song of the Watermelon,” I can hear my twos of readers asking, “isn’t the smart money on Thomas Mulcair?” No, for while he may win a plurality of votes on the first ballot, he is sure to be the second choice of almost no one. Some purveyors of conventional wisdom peg Nathan Cullen supporters as Mulcair’s kingmakers on the grounds that both contenders are pragmatists (where for Mulcair, “pragmatist” is code for centrist, and for Cullen, “pragmatist” actually means pragmatist). I don’t think it’s quite so simple. Yes, they both tend to anger NDP traditionalists (for different reasons) and they both share greenish leanings, but Cullen’s heavy focus in his leadership campaign on cooperation with the Liberals and Greens makes him somewhat of a wild card. The votes of his independent-minded supporters will likely scatter about unpredictably once he inevitably (and sadly!) fails to make the cut in the final rounds of voting at the convention.
Peggy Nash and Brian Topp, and to a lesser extent Paul Dewar and perhaps even Niki Ashton, are the true kindred spirits. They are the ones left competing for the far more fertile ground of the NDP’s left wing. Ashton will probably end up with less support than Cullen. Dewar won’t get far either despite recent speculation to the contrary (caused in no small part by one of his campaign’s internal — and therefore thoroughly unreliable — polls). At the end of the day, New Democrats eager to hold onto their gains in Quebec are unlikely to choose as their leader a candidate with such poor French.
Not long ago, Topp — with his high-profile endorsements and apparatchik credentials — was considered the one to beat. In recent weeks, however, his campaign has lost momentum. The best he can do now is deliver second- and third-preference votes to the winner.
Which leaves us with Peggy Nash. (And with Martin Singh, but on what planet does he have a shot?) Nash’s campaign has been a bit vague at times, but she appears to have what it takes to please as many NDP members as possible. And as I’ve made clear in previous posts, even for a non-New Democrat like me, she is most certainly one of the better ones.
Although normally an eternal pessimist in all matters political, today I judge my crystal ball to be half full. So make way as I spike said crystal ball in celebration and make a mess with whatever it was half full of. Whereupon I dance.