Thursday, June 22, 2006

Chicken Or The Egg

The NDP/Liberal feud seems to go on without an end in sight, while surely Stephen Harper grins. I challenge anyone to find a transcript of a recent Jack Layton speech that doesn't reference the failed Liberals on several occasions. Likewise, please point to a day in parliament where Liberal questions aren't prefaced with the standard NDP criticisms. It is too the point where the truth is irrelevant, the perception is entirely negative. Has the NDP cozyed up to the Conservatives for perceived mutual benefit? No question, as evidenced by Harper's own words which describe the NDP as "constructive", while referring to Liberals as "obstructionist". Were the Liberals largely a complete failure on the environment, with little credibility? Yes Jack, and Canadians are well aware of this fact now.

It is no longer relevant who started the feud, what is timely is how these two parties move on to avoid this obvious mutual-suicide pact. IMHO, the only way to break this vicious cycle is for politicians to stop acting political- a massive task indeed. Make the point, based on your own philosophical tenets and let Canadians digest the merits. The NDP is developing a wonderful environmental agenda, which has great weight without referencing the failed Liberals. Equally, the Liberals need not worry about this perceived erosion on their left-flank, but instead should champion issues that will allow soft-supporters to return- again on the environment, we see a new sense of urgency developing that is attractive.

Ironically, if political fortune is the consideration, the party that breaks away from this pissing match will have the most to gain. Look positive, highlight your agenda and leave the other to wallow in the mud. Canadians are sophisticated enough to smell political opportunism (i.e see Layton's debate performances or Martin's pandering), so there is incentive to act in a "pure" way. In fact, if one party can actually rise above the mud slinging they in turn look attractive in their relative nobility. Rise above the naked partisanship, because ultimately this negative approach turns people off to no end anyways. Focus on the real target, where the philosophical disagreement is pronounced and points can be made from a place of natural conviction, as opposed to pure calculation. This is not to say that the NDP and Liberals shouldn't engage in the compare and contrast, but maybe it is more a question of degree. As it stands now, both parties seem to think of the other, before they think of themselves.

3 comments:

RP. said...

Has the NDP cozyed up to the Conservatives for perceived mutual benefit? No question, as evidenced by Harper's own words which describe the NDP as "constructive", while referring to Liberals as "obstructionist".

That's like saying that me saying that I find [some famous hot person] hot, means that they are cozying up to me.

If the NDP are "cozying" up to the Cons, why are they asking for Rona Ambrose's head?

That aside, I'm a bit sick of the feud as well. Let's get back to holding the government accountable.

Steve V said...

rp

I don't think there was any doubt that in the early days of this parliament, Harper and Layton both concluded that marginalizing the Liberals was to there mutual benefit. Harper's choice of language was evidence of this fact. As I understand it, Layton was taking alot of heat from the grassroots for this perceived "closeness" and to his credit he has recently become far more critical.

dalestreet said...

As has been pointed out previously, during a minority government (unless a formal coalition is established between parties) every party is in constant campaign mode and every action and comment is framed with the intent to increase votes. Unfortunately, the preferred tactic of all parties seems to be to increase vote share by 'stealing' rather than 'earning' votes (and I'm sad to say, I think most of the Canadian electorate respond to this tactic). Since it is unlikely that the NDP can successfully woo Shrub supporters, they appear to have set their sites on previously Liberal votes (the Liberals, of course must respond in kind). I agree that this is an annoying (and perhaps fatal) practice. Given the politics of Quebec voters, I personally think the NDP should be trying to both 'earn' and 'steal' votes from all three of their competitors in that province. The current fluidity of political support in Quebec presents a tremendous opportunity for a progressive-minded party looking to increase their vote share.