Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Liberals Need to Start Rolling Out Policy

The Liberals have been in a state of policy paralysis ever since they lost the last election. This would be bad enough if the party was united, ably led and doing well financially and at the polls, but the party has been stuck at 30% for almost two years, Conservatives have raised five times as much money as the Liberals this year and Dion lacks charisma, struggles with English and maintaining party discipline, and has proved to be tactical neophyte prone to gaffes (e.g., musing about raising the GST). That said, the fact that the Liberals are in such disarray at least garners the party some press. There is certainly nothing else worth writing about.

So what do? The Liberals need to start rolling out policy and may even have to go as far as calling a policy convention. Until they start rolling out some new policies the media will continue to write about Dion’s many short comings, the Liberals lack of unity, the party will remain stuck in the polls and the fund raising numbers will remain poor.

If the Liberals hold such a convention and it is as dull and unproductive as the last, I will be the first one calling for Dion’s ouster.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

I say wait till the election.

Stockwell, Preston and other opposition leaders have given in to the temptation to announce their plans before an election, and it always backfires.

The government is in a strategic advantage in developing critiques, and changing current policy making opposition policy look silly.

Also, during the campaign the only thing the media care about are items that are new and fresh.

If Dion follows your advice he will lose the next election. But, then, maybe that's what you're aiming for.

CuriosityCat said...

Very few voters know what the Liberals under the new leadership now stand for, except a burning desire to become the government again.

So how on earth can the Liberal Party expect voters to warm up to the "new" Liberal Party?

Voters do not like being asked to give blank cheques to politicians, and that is what Dion seems to be asking them to do.

And in the mean time Harper is hammering Dion on the Liberal Party's nebulous stands ...

The Mound of Sound said...

You're absolutely right. There's no point waiting for an election if you've already lost the electorate by then. The latest Harris/Decima poll shows how badly Dion is screwing up the Liberal Party. It found 70% of Canadians approved of Harper's environmental plan. Astonishing. He doesn't even have a plan. This is supposed to be Dion's strength, his issue, and Harper has taken it away from him while he sat on his hands. A majority of Canadians still want Canada's forces out of Afghanistan in 2009 but it's Layton, not Dion, who owns that issue. Dion is doing nothing for our party save consign it into irrelevance with the voting public. He has been tested and found utterly wanting in the qualities essential to lead this party.

Koby said...

>>>> The government is in a strategic advantage in developing critiques, and changing current policy making opposition policy look silly.

Also, during the campaign the only thing the media care about are items that are new and fresh.

Not true. If the Liberals had not shifted the focus from SSM to banning the notwithstanding clause and had the Harper chosen to emphasis other parts of his campaign, the media would have been all too happy to cover the SSM ad nauseum. As it was, the issue got a ton of publicity before RCMP starting campaigning for the Conservatives and the whole dynamics of the campaign changed. If the Liberals were to, for example, promise to legalize marijuana or extend Medicare to include dental care, then I can guarantee the there will be no let up in the amount press. The issue or issues will keep going and going and going. Just like the energizer bunny. There would be nothing the Conservatives would do about it either. The media lives and dies by hot button issues.

Alas the current crop of Liberals does not seem to recognize this. They like introducing policies that the media feel obligated to report but quickly tire of. Dion and company do not seem to relize that they bore the public and the media, when they are not talking about Liberal disray, to tears. Oh and by the way, Dion introduced the only policy the Liberals the Conservatives were likely to steal, viz., a promise of “deep” corporate tax cuts.

>>>>> If Dion follows your advice he will lose the next election. But, then, maybe that's what you're aiming for.

If Dion does not follow my advice he will certainly loose the next election and loose badly and no that is not what I am aiming for. What more evidence do the Liberals need before they realize that staying the course is getting them no where?

Koby said...

>>>> It found 70% of Canadians approved of Harper's environmental plan. Astonishing. He doesn't even have a plan. This is supposed to be Dion's strength, his issue, and Harper has taken it away from him while he sat on his hands.

I know. For reasons that defy explanation, Dion has refused to attack Harper’s intensity based fa├žade head on. There is no way Harper’s intensity based “plan” would survive a serious inspection by the press.

>>>> A majority of Canadians still want Canada's forces out of Afghanistan in 2009 but it's Layton, not Dion, who owns that issue.

Again I agree. The Liberals do not even have any substantive talking points. Their policy needs to flow from a critique of the mission, but nothing flows from “it is someone else’s turn.”

Anonymous said...

KOBY,
I am not saying we should stay the course and not announce anything.

I am saying we should announce it in the campaign when people are paying attention.

Koby said...

Nothing Dion has done so far convinces me that he will bold enough to introduce policies that will capture the imagination of media and by really by extension the electorate. I suspect he will be content to roll out dull as dishwater policies that will interest no one. This will not help things at all. The media cycle is even shorter during an election campaign.

Look the advantage of the hot button issue is that draws plenty of media attention and provided you have done your homework ages like a fine wine. The sooner you get out such policies the better.

Cool Blue said...

Following the strategy of Harper, Dion should announce a handful of proposals but hold most of them for the election.

You'll recall that prior to the election the media was actually complaining that Harper had no policies apart from the Accountability act. Everybody expected Harper to hammer on accountability but he hardly touched it during the campaign.

The problem Dion is in is that the things you're proposing are such as pharmacare and dental coverage are very expensive and really provincial jurisdiction.

For example, Quebec already has dental coverage, so if the Libs propose this Quebec will just opt out, take the dental care money and spend it on something else. Asymmetrical federalism wins again!