As the federal NDP approaches its Ottawa convention Feb. 16-18 with new leader Jagmeet Singh, its path forward is not clear. Faced with a Liberal government verbally tacking to the left – if ultimately not delivering the goods on issues such as the environment, tax reform, foreign aid and proportional representation – the NDP hovers around 17.5 per cent in recent polls. Those are the kind of results it used to have before the 2011 Orange Wave.
The NDP lost the last election in Canada, in part, by running a campaign on points, such as balancing the budget at all costs, that fell to the right of the Liberals. The recent success of the Labour Party in the 2017 United Kingdom elections, where it won 40 per cent, and in recent polls where it now leads or is virtually tied with the Conservative government, shows us that the NDP could benefit from some U.K. lessons.
While the Labour Party’s platform under Jeremy Corbyn was new on many levels, one of the most significant points was the return of major planks from the winning 1945 election in which it proposed nationalizing or renationalizing major sectors of the economy. While the Conservatives had privatized the railways, water and energy companies, as well as the major part of the post office, Labour promises to bring these sectors back into public ownership.