Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Ignatieff had a Terrible Campaign

If the Liberals decide to solider on, they need to be frank with themselves. The Liberals and pundits often said that the Liberals ran a good campaign. This is laughable. They ran a terrible campaign. For starters there was no evidence whatsoever that the causa belli the Liberals gave for bringing down the government, viz., Harper's contempt for democracy, would be bought by the public. The public is hopelessly ignorant of parliamentary minutia and always will be. Try to explain to them the ins and outs of the In and Out scandal or Karios and their eyes will glaze over. Such issues are of interest to only a tiny fraction of the public. Still Ignatieff, and from all accounts he was the main driver of such a ill fated policy, raised the issue to the campaign's dying days. In this sense, Ignatieff was worse than Dion. At least Liberals had the good sense to move past the Green Shift in later half of the 2008 campaign. The only hope of getting any payoff from such a strategy was to introduce substantive democratic reforms. However, what the Liberals gave us was gimmicky and fluff. Finally, and to add insult to injury, the NDP used a completely insubstantial talk about voting attendance to turn the issue of respect for democracy against the Liberals.

Equally inexplicable was the Liberals inability to deal with the Conservatives coalition talking point and here again Ignateiff deserves a lot of the blame. Apparently two years is not enough time for a Harvard professor and an experienced communications staff to come up with a strategy for shutting down such talk. Ignatieff's mealy mouth response to Peter Mansbridge sealed the Liberals fate.

Now I have already written about Liberals daft debate strategy and I will absolve him for much of the blame for that. One thing Ignatieff does not like to do is repeat himself. On the campaign trail he was all over the map and he was rightly blasted for this. Endlessly repeating the same highly refined talking points on the campaign trail is a must. It is thus ironic that the one time Ignatieff should have tossed aside such advice and talked intelligently about the issues he instead he decided to endlessly repeat talking points he had neither mastered nor refined.

Of course, it was in the last two weeks that Liberals, and Ignatieff in particular, really fell apart. Carrying on like a half mad preacher, Ignatieff counseled Canadians to "rise up" and stupidly Liberals decided to make such revivalism the vocal point of the rest of their campaign.

They should have played the national unity card instead. The Liberals needed to talk about the Clarity Act and its importance. They needed to characterize Stephen Harper as once having been an Alberta separatist for having written the Firewall letter and "Separation Alberta Style" and they needed to blast Jack Layton for abandoning the Clarity Act and supporting the extension of bill 101. Chr├ętien covered some of these topics in his address to the party faithful, but Ignatieff has always been more of Lapierre Liberal and so did not take heed. Instead he blathered on about democracy until he and his party were finished.

Ignateiff will join Paul Martin and Stephane Dion as the Liberal leaders who killed the Liberal party.


Volkov said...

No - it wasn't just Martin, Dion, and Ignatieff. It was Trudeau and Turner as well. It was Trudeau's polarization of Canada's regions, and subsequent snuff of Quebec, and then Turner's decision to abandon the federalist cause in Quebec, that killed off the Liberals long before Martin, Dion, and Ignatieff.

Koby said...

I have written about Trudeau and Turner before.

I have nothing but bile for Turner and as for Trudeau I have always said his pursuit of the Charter was simply not worth the cost to party and to the country. It is ironic that in order to enshire individual rights and freedoms Trudeau had to enshrine something he hated into law, viz., colletive rights.

However, you need to put what happened to Liberals in Western Canada into context. A social revolution was happening in Quebec that went far beyond the Trudeau's ability to control.

"One of the main stumbling blocks is that the Liberals and the pundits have never fully absorbed what happened to level of support in Western Canada following the 1974 election. Some of blamed the NEP and others have even claimed the gun registry played a part. The latter claim is ridiculous. The gun registry had no impact the Liberals share of the popular vote or their seat totals. As for the former, it was the fact that the Liberal vote collapsed in Western Canada in 1979 that paved the way for the NEP politically and not the other way around. The NEP was introduced after the 1980 election. The Liberals took 1 seat in the three most western provinces in 1979 election and 0 in 1980.

The source of the collapse was that the more emphasis Trudeau placed on individual rights and a commitment to linguistic equality the more the rest of the country, particularly the West, resented the Liberals inability to put a stop to bill 178 and and 101 and its willingness to make special accommodations for Quebec. Quebec's Official Language Act spelled doom for the Liberals in Western Canada from the mid 70s until collapse of the Progressive Conservatives in 1993. Ironically, it was the Mulroney's willingness to go even further in pandering to Quebec, particularly the Charlottetown Accord, that gave the Liberals some life again."

The Liberals were still alive and kicking as late as 2003 and a half way competent leader would have delivered a majority in 2004.

Koby said...

I was quoting myself