Sunday, June 25, 2006

Tory Inc.

Every political party "manages" its message and tries to formulate policy which is palatable. However, the way the Conservatives have turned the political process into a "marketing strategy", more akin to a corporation, is unprecedented. Is Harper the Prime Minister or C.E.O? Are these MP's or sales reps? This article details how policy is merely a political calculation, rather than an extension of core ideals:
The federal Tories have identified tens of thousands of individual voters for a pre-election charm offensive designed to help them gain a majority government...

It's all part of a data-gathering project that could be the most sophisticated of its kind in Canadian political history. The party has already compiled two million names in an electronic database that records the concerns and political opinions of voters...

- Use psychographics and geodemographics to create a voter profile of neighbourhoods and ridings expected to become electoral battlefields. These techniques compile information on people's beliefs, values, opinions, and lifestyles, and blend them into a composite sketch for their neighbourhood. Data is drawn from the census, public-opinion polls, and information bought from ad agencies, private companies, and organizations like Air Miles which compile consumer data.

-Developing policies that appeal to key voters, and getting in touch with them through CIMS...

"We try to figure out what excites you about politics or what issues get you motivated. Then we try to match those with what's in our platform.


Apparently, this effort is how the Conservatives decided to adopt the GST cut. It used to be that Conservatives had a philosophical underpinning to their belief that taxes were to high, whereas Harper adopts his tax policy purely for political gain. It is obvious, as we head into the next election, that the Tories will argue policies simply as means to increase power, rather than a genuine conviction. This approach is decidedly dangerous, short-sighted and bereft of values. Like a soulless corporation that is pre-occupied with profit, this government simply exchanges money for votes. Maximize our potential, create a sharp sales pitch and manipulate the unaware voter.

I have heard Kennedy use the "marketing" angle to describe the Conservative government. I think this attack should be a core tenet as we move forward. Make the distinction between developing policy because you believe it is the right path, as opposed to developing a platform simply because it will play well. Clearly, we have reached the low water mark for conviction and principle, as Tory Inc. adopts the WalMart approach to Canadian politics. Ultimately, it will be up to Canadians to decide if they really are gullible sheep that are easily played.

2 comments:

Scotian said...

Yet another excellent post Steve, no wonder I enjoy reading your blog so. You are exactly correct, policy is being developed first on the basis of salability to the public in pursuit of a majority than as any extension of core values/principles. Indeed, this is exactly the approach Harper and the CPC would claim was the mode of operations for the Martin Liberals, I guess this was just another area where they were projecting their own behaviour onto their enemies. In that policies and actions were considered first and foremost for how to gain/retain power than for any other consideration like principles/values/long term interests.

I think you are exactly right in the need for the opposition parties and especially the Libs to be making this point at every single opportunity they can. That this is not a government of principles and values but a soulless machine interested first and foremost in its own power and willing to use any tool to gain it regardless of how good/bad it is for the country overall.

indievoter said...

Excellent article as usual!