Think about the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts and party politics would certainly fit the description well. A political party can be something of a juggernaut, though, and some of the dynamics don’t always sit well with individual members.
The public can only surmise the precise details behind the decision of a Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative member to leave the caucus to sit as an Independent. But the move by Chuck Porter, who represents West Hants and had served as health critic, certainly leaves the Official Opposition with a teetering command of that status in the legislature. The party now has 10 members, compared to the third-place NDP with seven.
Porter said he wasn’t happy being part of the Tory team and named leader Jamie Baillie as a chief source of the tension. He accused Baillie of micro-managing and claimed the leader doesn’t respect the opinions of the constituents Porter represents. That tends to reference a dilemma as old as party politics – serving the interests of the people who put you in the legislature versus keeping a shoulder behind the party and leader’s agenda.
No doubt a degree of public sympathy will form behind Porter. A lot of people like the political rep who ranks their interests high.
But Baillie has a different account of what’s behind this rift. He said Porter had missed a number of public accounts committee meetings and he, as leader, needs to see that they show up as required.
Nothing wrong with that. Likely among most occupations we’ll find workers who don’t always agree with their boss, but they still need to stay on the job.
Further to that, a legislature of 51 members with individual agendas would be a free-for-all. The party concept has its dirty laundry, but it’s a way of aligning forces.
Baillie says this is isolated. Time will tell whether that’s wishful thinking. In the meantime, the NDP might well be hoping a few more decide to stray from the fold.