Saturday, February 23, 2008

Best Spin Ever?

Take a rival party leader, one that you are on record criticizing, then place him in a position that could possibly foreshadow your own party leader's future, spin it to lay the groundwork why a leader deserves two elections. The mind boggles:
So John Tory got 66.8% of the vote.

If I were an Ontario Tory, I would say that he has more than enough support to remain leader.

As an Ontario Liberal, I say thank God. Of course, who knows if that's my honest opinion?

ALMOST IMMEDIATE UPDATE

Actually, I'd rather be honest before Tory announces his plans. I think it's crazy to switch leaders after one election, unless the person proves to be completely incompetent like Stockwell Day. John Tory made a lot of mistakes, but he deserves another chance as long as he is willing to change his closest advisors.

Goodness me.

21 comments:

MIssissaugaJoan said...

The problem is that blogger's candidate - leader - is in for a rough ride if he doesn't show some leadership this week. The blogger's leader wouldn't hit 50% if a leadership vote was held today.

I did some canvassing with a Liberal candidate lately, and I was alarmed at how many people who voted for the Liberals in the past, will not do so this time because of their opinion that there is a lack of leadership in the Liberal Party. Naturally, we focused on Dion's integrity and decency, but unfortunately, it seemed we were talking to deaf ears.

I have come to asking myself all too frequently, recently, a life-long Liberal, two questions: "What would Chretien do?" and "If we supported Dion in Montreal because he represented our Liberal values more than Iggy and Rae, why is he now deviating away from those Liberal values?"

Scott Tribe said...

Why does he appear to be deviating from those Liberal values?

Maybe because, as Jeff pointed out when pointing to a Winnipeg news article, he didn't have many Liberal caucus members endorse him for that nomination - a lot of his support came from the grassroots. Now that he's leader of a caucus that were overwhelmingly supporting other candidates, and because he has hawks in there, perhaps he feels he has no choice but to do what he's doing to prevent a public split of the party in public.

Personally, I think he should do what Chretien advised him (if he did) to do and to ignore the Nervous Nellies.

Mike said...

John Tory's situation is radically different than Dion's. McGuinty has a majority and they didn't JUST HAVE a leadership race in which the candidates STILL haven't paid off their debts.

Unless Harper wins a majority, Liberals are absolutely INSANE to think they could afford another leadership race right after the next election and even more so to think either Iggy or Rae would win it (another consensus candidate surely would given the way leaders are selected at conventions). I suggest you all read this article by Paul Wells:
http://forums.macleans.ca/advansis/?mod=for&act=dip&pid=75554&tid=75554&ref=rss&eid=43

Tell me then if you still think somehow the Liberals would get a better leader if they had a leadership race if Harper wins the next election.

McGuinty was once panned by all sides for being a terrible leader and then HE LOST and the opposing party even won a majority (in fact Harris beat him in a campaign with that very theme - not up to the job, not a leader). Look at McGuinty now. Do you support him Steve? Would you have called for him to be removed in 1999?

Anyone want to beg to differ on these points?

MississaugaJoan said...

Scott,

I agree with your analysis of why Dion is deviating from grassroots Liberals and their values. However, I don't want to give Dion any further slack. Dion is the leader and those MPs who don't agree with him and grassroots Liberals and their values, should be shown the door the same way Chretien showed the door to Nunziata.

Mike,

Big, big difference between McGuinty and Dion in circumstance and leadership style.

McGuinty was given a second chance because the person he beat out on the last ballot, Gerard Kennedy, reined in his supporters after the 1999 Liberal defeat.

Dion is having difficulty reining in Iggy and Rae now, let alone what it will look like if he does not procure a Liberal minority/majority.

Tory got 66.8% support. At this point in time, for lack of leadership, Dion would be lucky to even get 50% support (and he has yet to lose an election).

Those folks (like Cherniak) who are already trying to build up support for the leadership review a Dion loss would necessitate are wasting their time. Dion is getting 1 chance. Instead, encourage Dion back to grassroots Liberals and their values and urge Dion to show leadership by not signing the nomination papers of those Liberal MPs (most of whom are in safe metro Toronto Liberal ridings) who do not share Liberal values.

Steve V said...

I'm willing to bet that the next leadership race doesn't involve a convention, it will be done online. I'm also willing to bet, that should we lose the next election, Dion doesn't even make it to a leadership review.

Scott raises a good point about caucus support, but I think in the end, Dion is so shaky here, that he is forced to move and appease everyone, which creates this atmosphere of real weakness. If we are being honest, it really is a bad situation, and while people have shut their traps for now, you can just see an overall lack of confidence in the leader. As for the grassroots, I would say most of what I hear, in my tiny part of the country, even from former supporters- we're stuck with him, lets make the best of it, pretty much resignation, not a hint of genuine enthusiasm. Apart from the loyalists, I suspect what I hear isn't geographically unique.

Gayle said...

I think the grassroots do not want another Chretien/Martin battle, and they see that will happen with Iggy and Rae.

I have said this before, but the problem right now is the party. Would things be different if Iggy were the leader? I don't think so. One thing conservatives are right about is that the liberals believe they deserve to be the government, and the expectation with any leader was that they were going to roll back into power. Meanwhile the backroom backstabbing and plotting continues. Dion's opponents do not want to see him win the election. Neither will Rae's or Iggy's. The party has had to be in standby election mode since December/06 and has not had time to regroup. That is the problem with changing leadership in a minority parliament.

Steve V said...

"Would things be different if Iggy were the leader? I don't think so."

I actually think things would be quite different, for a variety of reasons. First of all, you would have a more committed caucus, a more coherent salesman, and great potential in Quebec.

Steve V said...

gayle

I say this as someone who supported Kennedy.

Mushroom said...

"John Tory got 66.8% of the vote."

Note the review was rigged by the Tory loyalists. The Harrisites would have signed up new members if they were allowed to vote in the leadership review. In a way, I thought Tory would have done much less - 55 to 57 per cent was what I expected for running the worse campaign since Larry Grossman in 1987.

However, stage 2 for John Tory's survival as leader begins now. He needs to win a seat back to Queen's Park. Expect the Grits not to give him a free ride this time. Moreover, if Tory runs in Dufferin-Wellington County expect John Snobelen to act as a stalking horse against him.

Miles Lunn said...

I think with Dion, he would get a second chance if he lost next the election but increased his seat count, i.e. (Tories 110 seats, Liberals 106 seats), but would be in a lot of pressure to step down if the Liberals lose seats.

As for John Tory, he lost both votes and seats (if you take re-distributed votes) whereas McGuinty in 1999 gained both votes and seats despite losing the election. What matters is not the end result, but rather the candidate is moving the party in the right or wrong direction.

In the case of Harper though I will admit that is a tougher one is although he increased the party's seat count, he won fewer votes than the combined PC + Alliance, although he did increase the party's vote over the Alliance. The point is here, is the leader moving the party in the right or wrong direction. In the case of Tory it is the wrong direction.

My only concern though is the replacement will be more from the Harris wing of the party, which I believe is the wrong solution. Someone like Elizabeth Witmer, who is moderate like John Tory but has better political judgement would probably be a better choice for them than someone like Flaherty.

Steve V said...

miles

Fair point for sure. I'm inclined to think, anything less than a Lib minority and he doesn't survive. There will be so many forces at play conspiring against him, I'm not sure the grassroots groundswell can stop that. This is just anecedotal, but I've talked to several Dion supporters for the leadership, who openly admit some disappointment. Would Dion have many fighting in his corner? I suspect he would resign before a leadership review, because there are just too many heir apparents waiting in the wings for everyone to rally around Dion.

Gayle said...

steve - I admit I am biased because I am apprehensive of Iggy. That whole Iggy v Rae thing was remniscent of Martin v Chretien which is why I believe Dion won in the first place.

Quite frankly I do not see anything different with Rae and Iggy. If they are both moving against Dion, why should we believe they will not move against each other?

That is why I believe a leadership change will not better things for the liberals. It may quiet things down for a while, but the schism is still there.

Mike said...

A non-delegated convention to decide the leader requires a constitutional amendment. It didn't pass last time, why next time?

If it's a delegated convention, then neither Iggy nor Rae would win, the odds are too stacked against them, they can't grow beyond the first ballot sufficiently.

And remember even in Alberta they had one person one vote and Stelmach won (again not the front-runner but a supposed consensus candidate), so even if people voted online, I still don't think either Iggy or Rae could win, because they can't grow beyond first choice support (Stelmach didn't win first choices at all either it would be a similar system for Liberals). I'm sure Iggy and Rae know this, it's just their supporters can't give up their dream that maybe one day they can help install their guy so they continue to undermine Dion which will only help increase the chances the Libs are in opposition for the next 10 years (with leadership race after leadership race and continually worse leaders).

So tell me again, what makes you think a new leadership race would get someone better than Dion? It won't be Iggy, it won't be Rae, it won't be Kennedy (still toxic in Quebec), so who would it be? Martha-Hall Findlay maybe? Joe Fontana? Are they better?
The lessons from the last convention and Alberta are clear, it would be another second or third choice candidate that would win.

Not to mention nobody addressed my issue that financially the leadership contenders CANNOT finanancially afford another race, they haven't paid off their debts yet. How could they manage another race? No one addressed this, you can't pretend it doesn't matter.

So again, a leadership race so soon after the last one would be unprecedented and insane.

Btw, did anyone read the Paul Wells' article I linked to? Thoughts about it? I think he lays out the options pretty well.

The only scenario where another leadership race makes sense is a Harper majority. Anything else, is just wasting another 3 years of division and Harper gets to govern like he has a majority anyway.

Dion has a lot to offer, why not focus on his positives given the suicide it would involve to push him out so soon.

Anonymous said...

"Would things be different if Iggy were the leader? I don't think so."

I actually think things would be quite different, for a variety of reasons. First of all, you would have a more committed caucus, a more coherent salesman, and great potential in Quebec


As someone who tirelessly volunteered for Ignatieff's campaign, it makes me happy to here you say that.

-ITC

Mike said...

I think people are deluding themselves to think things would be better under Iggy. First of al he really does have almost ZERO chance of winning the next leadrship race unless there is only one other person running against him (no first ballot victory, no chance of victory for Iggy - he can't grow).

But it's fantasy to say things would be better if he won. Iggy's dumb comments of late (e.g., about being the "puffin party", etc...) would have gotten more attention if he were the leader. The 60% of caucus that didn't support him behind him would not likely have rallied to his call (you would have heard stories of Rae supporters undermining him).

As well, the Tories would have run much stonger negative ads against Iggy than they've ever run against Dion using Iggy's own statements (recall Iggy could not defend himself over those in a Liberal debate, just basically said shame on you Bob, as if that would fly for Conservatives). They would also play up his lack of political experience. The NDP at the same time would have played up Iggy's hawkish foreign policy views and his support for the Iraq War and probably would have run attack ads of their own.

You have no idea what the other parties had in store for Iggy nor whether he would have been able to handle it, but the evidence based on his leadership campaign was that he would not have handled it well. So I found it weird that people think things would be better with him.

The latest Nanos poll shows the Liberals and Conservatives tied 34-34 which and the NDP down in the dumps, that's better than where things stood in Dec. 2006 on the eve of leadership so be happy wtih that, because the NDP number would certainly be higher with Iggy and so likely would the Conservative number.

It's all counterfactual thoughts here, but I do think an honest analysis says things would be worse not better under Iggy.

I'm still waiting to see if anyone adresesses my earlier points though about the insanity of a leadrship race though.

I think such thoughts (that another leadership race would happen if Dion lost) are really damaging to future Liberal chances because it makes all the diehard Iggy supporters think a loss in the next election is in their intersts because then Dion would go (so they won't work as hard to see that Dion tanks).

Gayle said...

"I think such thoughts (that another leadership race would happen if Dion lost) are really damaging to future Liberal chances because it makes all the diehard Iggy supporters think a loss in the next election is in their intersts because then Dion would go (so they won't work as hard to see that Dion tanks)."

Exactly.

It also annoys those of us who donate to the party so that they can win the next election. I do not want my money used for a leadership race.

Steve V said...

"First of al he really does have almost ZERO chance of winning the next leadrship race..."

Mike, the guy is basically the defacto leader right now (notice how his media scrums are bigger than Dion's), consolidating his supporters, lots of quiet manoeuvering (not exlusive to him). I would say Iggy has seasoned somewhat, there would be less resistence next time around. In fact, I think he would be easily be the frontrunner.

"A non-delegated convention to decide the leader requires a constitutional amendment. It didn't pass last time, why next time?"

Have you seen the leadership debts, the drain on fundraising, the distractions? Now that people have seen the fallout, with the new rules, I think it would pass.

How can anyone say Iggy would be worse? Can you get below the bottom, which is where we are now with our leadership? We're a ground zero here people, with Dion, and that is just an objective fact. The Liberal brand is keeping us competitive, Dion is like a hole in our sail at the moment. I think that is just being honest.

Steve V said...

gayle

I agree, it is annoying, but it is also a symptom of Dion's inability to rally people behind him. When you look at past leadership squabbles, a firm hand, the ability to keep others off balance, those are skills required, especially after a very competitive race. It is up to Dion to make people believe in him, that's the deal, the Liberals are in always in a perpetual leadership race.

Hey, do you get those emails from Iggy? The one's we here says help "me" fight the government, team Iggy, it is so overt, bordering on obscene, but there it is. And does anyone doubt Rae's "council" to Dion about avoiding an election isn't driven by his desire to get in the HofC and position himself for the future. The only reason both of these guys are hanging around, is they still have aspirations, they aren't there to be a critic.

Mushroom said...

"This is just anecedotal, but I've talked to several Dion supporters for the leadership, who openly admit some disappointment. Would Dion have many fighting in his corner?"

Many of them are David Orchard's people. Others are potential candidates who want to run for a riding nomination, but have been discouraged not to by central party. Not good for party renewal.

"How can anyone say Iggy would be worse? Can you get below the bottom, which is where we are now with our leadership? We're a ground zero here people, with Dion, and that is just an objective fact."

Iggy showed one major thing in his political development so far. He can ask questions and frame them well in Parliament. It is helpful when you were once a television host. Compare this to Dion, ten years as a Cabinet minister at the Federal level. How will Iggy do in a leadership role? One who took on the Deputy Leader role because he felt that he is not too policy oriented.

"it is also a symptom of Dion's inability to rally people behind him."

Some of Dion's loyal supporters are telling him to bide his time for the next election. From Ontario, they include Martha Hall Findlay and Bryon Wilfert. There are rumours now that Dion likes to keep his own counsel. This suits his working style, someone who performs well methodically and quietly, and is the brightest nut on the cabinet table. Leadership is different, and the winner take all political game may prove to be disadvantageous to Dion. He may change, and the consolation is that Canadians may be wanting more consensus politics, rather than the adversarial perspective offered by Harper and Layton.

Anonymous said...

How will Iggy do in a leadership role?

Leadership is about three things with the LPC. Raise money, rally troops, and tear down your opposition. There is no doubt Iggy could do all three vastly better that Dion. Leave the policy to the policy wonks and the team you build around you. Dion is a great minister, but a terrible commander to lead the troops.

Chr├ętien was generally a policy retard. The only things that people remember about him are balanced budgets and no to Iraq, and that’s over a 10 year period. But he delivered three majorities to his team and let them fly (ie. Martin with the finances of the country).

I don’t want to reminisce about the leadership days and gloat, even though a lot of us are gloating when we were saying “you’ve made a mistake with Dion”. Dion was given a free ride through the leadership race and no one really tested his abilities. With that being said, we all need to give our best and allow Dion his one shot to make us look like fools for the good of the country. But Steve is right, the Ignatieff of today is vastly different from the amateur, and a lot of his early resisters are taking note. He attracts more money to his leadership debt fundraisers than Dion does with general party fundraisers

-ITC

Mushroom said...

"Dion was given a free ride through the leadership race and no one really tested his abilities."

You saw some of Dion's problems manifest themselves during the leadership. When attacked by Iggy on the environment, Dion got angry and passionate, flailing around like a madman. He does flail a bit in Question Period, particularly when he talks to Goodale. Dion's speech on the convention floor was quite poor. He went over time and was cut off. Rumours had it that he rewrote it several times.

It did not hurt Dion enough though. He was the consensus, everybody's second choice. Many thought he would lose an early election and then be given a mandate to clean house. Now we are waiting for new blood through by-elections and look forward to the progress he is making with his English lessons.