Scott Reid – yes, that Scott Reid – is working himself up into a righteous lather on the op/ed pages of the Globe and Mail today on the coalition issue. Thing is, I’m not entirely clear just who he’s in such a dander about, because he goes off the rails in his very first sentence:
Inexact language and a shocking lack of constitution are lending momentum to the dangerously flawed idea of a formal coalition between the Liberals and NDP prior to the next election campaign.
And who, exactly is proposing a “formal coalition” happen “prior” to the next election? I would love to meet these straw men that Scott spends the next 800-odd words arguing against with such energy because, frankly, I’m not aware of many Liberals, certainly of any prominence or with any vigor, who are arguing for a pre-election coalition at all. A merger, pre-election coalition, joint candidates, none of that is seriously on the table.
Instead of picking an extreme to build-up and then argue against, Scott would have done better to address what the vast majority of the people, certainly on the Liberal side, currently raising the coalition issue are actually talking about: the possibility of a post-election coalition.
Speaking for myself, and indeed I think many other Liberals, all we’re asking is that a post-election coalition between the Liberals and the NDP remain on the table, if the math warrants it. That’s it. I agree with all of Scott’s reasons why pre-election coalitions and/or mergers are bad ideas, so he can save his typing. My issue is that the current Liberal leadership is explicitly ruling-out the possibility of a post-election coalition. That, by and large, is what this debate is about. Not preemptively limiting our options.
Rather than tilting at windmills, I’d rather Scott tackle the real issue.
I do agree with Scott on this, though:
There is an obvious and superior alternative: Do better. Improve the effort, sharpen the message and bring the fight. In the weeks and months to come, the ambition of the Liberal Party should be to defeat Stephen Harper.
That is true, but let me put a slightly different spin on it than Scott. The simple fact is there's a reason why there's suddenly all this coalition talk: we're weak. We're floundering in the polls, our leader is unpopular, we're not resonating with the public. People from the centre and left are desperate to be rid of Stephen Harper but they don't see how that can realistically happen right now, and they certainly don't see how we can do it solo. So they're grasping at a coalition as a means to the end.
The way to end coalition talk is to make it unnecessary. If the Liberal Party was seen as a viable alternative government that could legitimately defeat the Conservatives, if we were competitive with them in the polls and the chance of governing on our own wasn't seen as a Vegas long-shot, then these conversations wouldn't be happening.
If I saw some light at the end of the tunnel, or at least had the confidence we had a strategy that could get us there, I’d be happy to buckle-down as Scott suggests. But I don’t. Our party has suffered a steady erosion in support for over a decade that we haven’t yet come to grips yet, and Scott had a front-row seat.
It’s time for new ideas. Not tilting at windmills. You want to stop this coalition talk? The answer is simple: stop sucking.Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers