From Layton to Singh
The 20-year struggle for the NDP’s soul
by Matt Fodor
An incisive analysis of the federal NDP since 2000, examining the ongoing, unresolved tension between the party’s idealistic grassroots base and centrist bureaucracy at its core.
On the surface the story of the federal NDP in the 21st century can be told as a story of its leaders — the optimism of the Jack Layton era; the disappointment of Tom Mulcair, the energizing popularity of Jagmeet Singh with young voters. But the real story is the ongoing internal power and ideological conflict between social democrats and Orange liberals.
Author Matt Fodor describes how, over 20 years, centrists gradually consolidated their power, turning the party to the right. He highlights how the tensions have played out as activists drawn to socialist ideals contend with card-carrying party members chasing political power.
The NDP’s low point came with the disastrous 2015 election when Trudeau’s Liberals outflanked the NDP on the left. Matt Fodor describes the impact on the party of Jagmeet Singh’s leadership, from its rocky first days to the campaigns of 2019 and 2021 and the role the party has played in minority Parliaments. He offers an account of the changes that would allow the federal party to hew more closely to the ideals and beliefs of its members.
Fodor bases his narrative on sources including party insiders and defectors alike.