Monday, September 17, 2007

I actually agree with Tom Flanagan on something!

This must surely a sign of the apocalypse. Excuse me while I go to the window to check for flying monkeys and blood falling from the sky like rain...ok, we're still clear at the moment.

The Conservative Karl Rove is exactly right in his analysis here though:

Tom Flanagan has a message New Democrats won't want to hear. In a candid new book called Harper's Team, the top Conservative strategist reveals that Jack Layton and company were the key to bringing Stephen Harper - not exactly a Dipper kind of guy - to power.

The Layton decision to attack Paul Martin's Liberals and lay off the Tories in the 2006 campaign was what paved the way, concludes the Calgary academic, a Harper confidant. "No matter how well designed our campaign had been, it would have been hard for us to win if the NDP had not held up its end."

This is what Liberals, though less eloquently, have been saying since the last election. So, a certain degree of vindication there, I suppose.

Now, before the flamers come-out in force, let me make clear that I’m not making excuses for the Liberal result last election, nor do I blame the NDP for their strategy.

The Liberals’ loss was the LPC’s own fault; heck, they even lost my vote last election after the military ad. From sponsorship to the income trust investigation to a weak, weak campaign and a host of other factors, the LPC was its own worst enemy in 2005/06.

And I don’t fault the NDP for their strategy; it was very smart. And it paid dividends for them with a substantial increase in seat count. In their shoes, I’d have done the very same thing.

So, I don’t blame the NDP for the Liberal result, let me make that clear. But it has been my strategic analysis, shared now it would seem by Tom Flanagan, that the NDP strategy helped put Harper in power. I don’t see how, from a pure numbers perspective, that can be denied. By focusing its attacks on the Liberals, the NDP was able to divide the left vote enough for a Harper minority. The numbers simply bare that out.

Do I expect the NDP to change their strategy? Not to any large degree. The article says they’ve softened their attacks on the Liberals since Dion took over, I’d take issue with that claim.

I think there may be a point where NDP supporters start to question if focusing more on the Liberals than the Conservatives, esp. now that they’re in government, with the result of prolonging the Con government, is really the way to go. So, there may be some risk of a backlash at some point. But that really depends on how successful the NDP is at influencing Con legislation, and that will have to be key to their messaging next campaign.

But there’s one big reason why the NDP is unlikely to change their strategy: it works. They increased their seat count. They’re not going to gain Conservative votes, but they can gain Liberal votes. So, even though it increases the likelihood of a Conservative government, why dump a winning strategy? There’s also the fact Layton and many Dippers dream of supplanting the Liberals as the major centre-left party, but that’s another story.

At the end of the day though, while Flanagan confirms the hypothesis of many Liberals, when it comes to placing blame, both for the last election result, and the future left-vote splitting that will come from the NDP’s continued attack the Liberals first strategy, the blame lies solely on our shoulders.

There’s not going to be a unite the left movement like we saw on the right. There’s nothing we can do about the NDP’s strategy. It is up to the Liberal Party to provide a solid alternative, to appeal to centre-left voters, and to provide them with a reason to vote for us. We need to earn their votes.

If we do, they’ll vote for us and we’ll challenge the Conservatives to form government. And if we don’t earn their votes, and the Cons win again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers

21 comments:

Ti-Guy said...

And if we don’t earn their votes, and the Cons win again, we’ll have no one to blame but ourselves.

Sorry, I'm not getting measured for any hair shirts just yet. I still believe the Liberals need to respond to the hysterical attacks the NDP have been making, while simultaneously clarifying why it's in the best interests of centre-leftists to vote Liberal.

The tone of this post strikes me as very much the type of weak, apologetic messaging that's been coming from the Liberals in the last while...that *we* Liberal voters have to atone for something that was not of our doing...not mine, anyway.

By the way, it's should be a prerequisite to be a Liberal to disagree with Tom Flanagan on principle. I know that sounds intellectually dishonest, but if so, it's a minor transgression. If Tom Flanagan gets something right, it's really just a matter of the proverbial broken clock...

Greg said...

Flannigan is just pandering to Liberal revenge fantasies. The fact that Paul Martin's people ran the worst campaign in Canadian history had nothing to do with the result. It's all the NDP's fault.

A BCer in Toronto said...

. I still believe the Liberals need to respond to the hysterical attacks the NDP have been making, while simultaneously clarifying why it's in the best interests of centre-leftists to vote Liberal.

That's all I'm saying ti. I'm not saying we need to apologize for anything. I'm not talking about atonement I'm saying we need to campaign hard and earn votes, and give reason a people to vote Liberal (which incidentally is what we do/need to do every election) and if we don't it's our own fault, it's not because of NDP strategy.

And Greg, thanks for either not reading or missing the point all together.

Sean Shaw said...

I would amend your comments by saying in Saskatchewan there is a real opportunity for the NDP to pick up Conservative votes (and they have started a campaign to take advantage of this already) in the next election as well as in BC... but that's limited to pretty much these two provinces and not the rest of Canada.

janfromthebruce said...

Who will be Canada's corporate sweetheart? You should take a peek at that, and than ask yourself why progressives choice the NDP last time?
Let's see, beyond that, 13 years of inaction on climate change, ditto for national childcare, propping up the Cons in Afghanistan, and I can go on and on.
You lost voters because they were sick of empty promises that you just didn't deliver, well for the main street folk.
What makes the liberal party think that NDP should prop them up? Or do you want them to act like the libs are doing now in the House, you know propping up the Cons by voting with them on Confidence motions?
Between the Libs and the BLoc who would have believed that you do lots of empty rhetoric, but at the end of day, you just don't stand up for Canada.
Power for powers sake doesn't mean you are the natural governing party, it just means that the liberal party just doesn't get it.

but that works for the NPD because as long as libs keep on looking and blaming outside of their party, it means the libs will not be doing the work that is necessary to build your party. Works for me!

James said...

Jan,

Speaking about power for power's sake, I would say that Jeff's analysis here points to LAYTON putting politics before the interests of the people he supposedly represents.

One of the biggest problems right now for the liberals has to do with the fact that the CONS and NDP are delivering the SAME MESSAGE with regard to liberals and Dion, who they characterize as being a "weak leader". This messaging can be demonstrated again and again in numerous press releases.

The bottom line is that if you want action on climate change, water resource management, indigenous peoples rights such as the recent UN vote, or a host of other issues, Vote liberal.

If not you can continue to support the party that is making alternatives to the Harper government less conceivable due to party propaghanda.

nemanja said...

That Dion is a weak leader isn't some fiction invented by the Tories and the NDP, it's the plain truth, and is obvious to anyone who has eyes to see. Does anyone seriously think that an Ignatieff-led Liberal party would be struggling to hold on to Outremont? A Kennedy-led one? Heck, even a Rae-led one?
Anyone who has the best interests of this country at heart ought to be hoping that the NDP wins Outremont today, and that the already shaky perch that Dion is on gets even shakier. Let's face it - the wrong choice was made. Let's not continue living with this mistake for the sake of loyalty. Let's instead take a page from the PQs book about what to do when you make a mistake in electing a leader - say thank you for your time, turf him out on his ass, and bring in someone competent and capable of leading the party and the country.

Francesco said...

Totally frustrated!!!!

A BCer in Toronto said...

sean:
I would amend your comments by saying in Saskatchewan there is a real opportunity for the NDP to pick up Conservative votes (and they have started a campaign to take advantage of this already) in the next election as well as in BC...

I'm not too familiar with Saskatchewan but you are correct in B.C., we're real anti-establishment types out there and the Libs are still viewed as the establishment. Although, it's worth noting the Libs increased their vote and seat count in BC the last two elections, although not by as much as the NDP. So both parties gained from the Cons there.

jan:
but that works for the NPD because as long as libs keep on looking and blaming outside of their party

Try actually reading the post before cutting and pasting your party-approved talking points. Or don't. Either way.

nemanja:
Does anyone seriously think that an Ignatieff-led Liberal party would be struggling to hold on to Outremont? A Kennedy-led one? Heck, even a Rae-led one?

Given that you've provided absolutely nothing to support your hypothesis my Conservative trolling friend I won't bother to present a counter argument. I could say the sky is purple, period, and my argument would be as strong as the one you've presented.

janfromthebruce said...

The bottom line is that if you want action on climate change, water resource management, indigenous peoples rights such as the recent UN vote, or a host of other issues, Vote liberal.

If I want action on the above, I weren't think about voting liberal. Didn't you read my post?

That was the inaction I was talking about. As for water resource management, if I remember correctly, it was John Manley big lib party bigwig who said everything would be on the table, including water. And if I remember correctly, he was at that last deep intergration meeting in Baniff.
Sorry, the libs need to figure out that it takes more than saying all those great progressive things - it takes action.
Now let's talk about that scab labour legislation. Who voted against it and propped up the cons? Who got booed at a labour rally? I love that utube clip. It says it all.

nemanja said...

A BCer in Toronto: "Given that you've provided absolutely nothing to support your hypothesis my Conservative trolling friend I won't bother to present a counter argument. I could say the sky is purple, period, and my argument would be as strong as the one you've presented."

Let's ease up on the namecalling here. I'm a card-carrying Liberal just like you.

Now what I had up there was what's known as a counterfactual - as such, there is no real way to prove that I'm correct. I could maybe point to the fact that Ignatieff was signifciantly stronger than Dion in Quebec polling, both in- and outside the party. But more importantly, there is, as you say, common sense. To say that the sky is purple defies common sense, even though it's apparent to everybody that it is blue.

The same goes for Dion's leadership. Browse the editorial pages of any Canadian publication - "anemic", "weak", "indecisive", "embattled" - those are the epithets most often associated with Dion's name. Perhaps you feel that this isn't fair, and I can certainly empathise with that point of view. But to pretend that this perception of Dion is manufactured by other parties (or by me) is a little far fetched.

The real question here is how do we move on? You would probably say that the way to do it is stick with our choice, show confidence in the leader, and ride out the stormy weather. My own point of view can be summarized as reluctance to throw good money after bad. Cut our losses, replace an ineffectual leader, and work on beating the Tories once again.

James said...

Jan,

You spend more time criticising the liberals than you do Harper, even though Harper's the one pulling the strings of government. This is what makes you and the NDP short-sighted.

What is your parties goal exactly? To continue to thrust unsubstantiated criticisms at Dion "he's weak, aenemic, whatever", thus eliminating a viable alternative to this current government, and thus prolonging Harper's hold on power?

What if, instead of spending most of your time trying to destroy the liberals, you spent your time and energy building and envisioning a positive future for Canada? What if the NDP, my gosh, spent most of their energy creating a positive vision for the country rather than trying to tear down Dion? What if your press releases were spent trying to push positive ideals rather than playing politics and bashing the liberals?

Or do you enjoy watching as our country, being run by Harper, becomes increasingly militarized, less fair, increasingly beligerent in our attitudes towards indigenous peoples, less environmentally progressive, more and more in step with the doctrines of Bush et al.,

How about prioritizing your values? What is more important to you, getting rid of Harper and putting the country back on track, or destroying the liberals?

James said...

Nemanja,

You said, "But to pretend that this perception of Dion is manufactured by other parties (or by me) is a little far fetched."

Really?

Have you forgotten the "Dion is not a leader" ads put out by Harper within a couple weeks of his winning the leadership in Montreal?

Have you not seen the similarities between the NDP and the CONS descriptions of Dion?

nemanja said...

James: perhaps the reason this perception of Dion echoes across the parties and throughout the blogosphere and punditry is that it's a fairly accurate portrayal of the man?

Mushroom said...

The CPC were demoralized once Stronach crossed the floor and the attempt to defeat the Grits fell through in the summer of 2005.

Once Layton turned the tables and defeated the government on confidence motion, Harper was given what was probably his last kick in the can as Opposition leader.

As a tactician, Layton had hardly put a foot wrong. It remains to be seen whether the Grits path to power is dependent on him.

James said...

nameja,

Judging by his history, no, it's it's not an accurate portrayal of the man.

dirk buchholz said...

BCER said..."There’s also the fact Layton and many Dippers dream of supplanting the Liberals as the major centre-left party, but that’s another story"...
exactly that why the "strategy" succeeded.The NDP are finally figuring it out.They are the center- left.Libs are just more polite conservatives.
Libs campaign from the left than morph into the party of big-business/corporation once they assume power.Perhaps voter are finally understanding that,lets hope so...

Robert McClelland said...

By focusing its attacks on the Liberals, the NDP was able to divide the left vote enough for a Harper minority. The numbers simply bare that out.

No they don't. Take the riding of Muskoka-Parry Sound for example. In `04 the numbers were:
LP: 19,271
CP: 15,970
NDP: 5,171
GP: 3,524
In `06 the numbers were:
LP: 18,485 -3.82%
CP: 18,513 +3.75%
NDP: 5,472 +0.08%
GP: 3,701 +0.00%

The votes shifted from the Liberals to the Conservatives. The NDP had no effect and the same is true in most ridings that the Liberals lost to the Conservatives. In fact, in ridings like Desneth√©—Missinippi—Churchill River for example, the NDP actually lost votes.

Greg said...

For the record BC Lib, Flanagan's point was to create mischief and to have Liberals chase after ghosts. He has succeeded brilliantly.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Greg,
For the record BC Lib, Flanagan's point was to create mischief and to have Liberals chase after ghosts.

Flannagan's motives aside, his analysis is still sound. And incidentally, the prescription is what you alluded to one thread up: reclaiming the centre-left.

Mark Greenan said...

Jeff,
Love the blog, one of the best Liblogs out there.

But you advice for the Liberals to "reclaim the cente-left". Can't say I agree with that one ...

Sounds like a recipe for another Harper government to me.