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Gary Doer – the equivalent to Tony Blair circa 1997?

I see that the expected happened in Manitoba yesterday with Gary Doer winning yet again, cementing that he is one of the most popular Premiers out there, and also I daresay one of the most successful NDP politicians since its formation from the old CCF.

If there was a scenario where Jack Layton decided to step down as a federal NDP leader (ie. after the next election where the NDP  lost seats), Gary Doer should be someone the NDP rank-and-file seriously consider, or try to persuade to run for the job.  He is more of what I would call a “centrist NDP’er” (if that term makes sense), and I believe he would give the moderate middle voting electorate  of this country a lot of reasons to vote for him.  He could be to the NDP what Tony Blair was for the Labour Party in the mid-1990’s. Blair of course dragged Labour from its far-left ideology and  out of the grasp of the ideologues in that party, and moved it more to the middle. British voters liked that, and liked Blair’s personality, and he has been very successful since.

Doer, I feel,  has the same potential for the NDP that Blair does. I’m not saying I think he would lead the NDP to victory or anything, but I think he would have the potential to achieve a large breakthrough in winning seats.

By the way, at least one  of my Liberal colleagues think if he made the jump to federal politics, he’d run for the Liberals, because they say, “Gary Doer likes power”; implying  he wouldn’t lead a party with no hope of winning.  I’m not so sure – perhaps the chance of growing the NDP’s support would be something he would enjoy the challenge of doing.


7 comments to Gary Doer – the equivalent to Tony Blair circa 1997?

  • The point is Kuri is that Doer is a centrist and a moderate… and until the NDP figure out that they need to have a leader that appeals to the moderate middle, rather then someone who only appeals to their base … they are going to remain stuck at between 13-18% and 20-30 seats for perpetuity.

  • *shudder* A Blair-type is the last thing the NDP needs – a man who was so in thrall of his own ego that he figured he alone could control the biggest hegemonic empire this planet has ever known, a man whose been a comfort to every religious bigot who wishes to oppress homosexuals in the UK, and a man who last election engaged in a “who can be the most anti-immigrant” pissing contest with the Tories. No, no, thanks! I don’t know much about Doer, actually, but he’d do best to avoid repeating your comparison to the NDP rank and file were he to make a run at the leadership.

  • mushroom

    Sorry, not Blair c. 1997. I thought your title is misleading but you are emphasizing the prospect of Doer taking over the federal NDP. Don’t think so.

    There are no similarities between Blair and Doer. Blair and Brown came from the right faction of the Labour party. I don’t see anything right wing about Doer.

    Doer is more of a CCF type politician, in the Woodsworth, Douglas tradition. A closer equvalent would be Bob Hawke in Australia during the 1980s, who introduced fiscal responsibility to NDP governments.

  • ac

    If, and it’s a big if, Doer decides to enter federal politics his joining the Liberals is not that unbelievable. In the past (most recently during the early part of this last campaign)he publically stated the NDP in Manitoba is also this province’s “Liberal” party. And that’s not far off the mark.

    A reality of modern Manitoba politics is the winner between the Cons and the NDP at least for the past 30 years) is the party that also appeals to the liberal-minded voter. As is obvious, Doer and the NDP does that. In a flipped, yet similar scenario, for the Liberals to succeed natioanlly they will need to appeal to the CENTER-left followers the federal NDP.

    I don’t believe Doer would enter the federal scene as the NDP leader. He has significant disagreements with some positions the federal party has taken. Perhaps this is a result of having to actually govern…always a tempering experieince. Doer’s pragmatic approach to politics would not go over well with the hard core theoretical ideolouges that still hold much sway of the federal NDP. As such, his tenure as leader would be, well, untenable. Also, Doer already has good working relationships with a number of leading federal Liberals (most notibly, Lloyd Axworthy – former Minister of Foreign Affairs and current U of W President).

    All this musing may be moot though, as he has stated this is his last term as Premier and that he’d then like to try something other than politics. Before being elected as a MLA in 1986 he was a guard at a youth detention centre…hmmmm.

  • My point about Blair stands, Militant L, Iraq War notwithstanding.

    The point is.. Labour had been out of power forever (it seemed) and Blair revitalized that party to 3 successive majority wins. If the NDP had the equivalent happen to them.. I don’t think they’d be complaining.

  • Bailey


    That’s an interesting thought. However, he’s 59, which might be a little too old by the time the NDP would get around to electing him as a leader as he’s be in his 60s by then….

  • Militant Liberal

    Scott I dont think you can ignore the fact that Tony Blair has just resigned in disgrace. If one of the old idealogues was in charge of labour they might not have won in the 90’s but people oppossed to George Bush’s war in Iraq would have someone to vote for. Imagine being an anti-war liberal in England and suddenly your party is being lead by a sell-out collaborator. You cant turn to the opposition for support because their Conservatives and support all wars. So you vote for the Liberal Democrats like many of them did weakening Labour in the last election. The war is now so unpopular in England that Labour stands to be weakened even further in the next election. This can only mean a chance for the cons to make a come back. Adopting your enemies platform may give you short term gains but it eventually comes back to hurt you.

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