Thursday, September 16, 2010

Liberal Fall Strategy: A Caution

I think the summer tour achieved the modest goals. I can see where people want to continue the same sort of messaging, imagery, in an effort to improve the leader's fortunes and the party as a whole. However, I had to admit I worry that Liberals have "fallen in love" with the summer formula and our desire to replicate into the fall session opens us up for voluntary criticism.

Don Martin's column is titled "New Liberal strategy — keep Ignatieff out of Ottawa". I think the internal enthusiasm fails to recognize one simple fact- summer is over. In the summer, Parliament isn't sitting, there is NO reason to be in Ottawa. However, with a raucous fall session awaiting Parliament, the idea that Ignatieff will be awol, conducting a marginally covered town hall, while important issues are debated, brings with it the most obvious or risks. Frankly, this strategy risks undermining all the perceived "leadership" gains.

There were a few times last session where Ignatieff was out of Ottawa, during key debates. Do we remember how that went, and the damage it did? Where's Iggy, why is Rae at the forefront, where's the leader, who's running this party? The other parties will be quick to seize on Ignatieff being away, should the opportunity arise. The media won't be following him on a bus, they'll be in Ottawa, and if Ignatieff isn't around, his leadership image will take a hit.

I loved the jeans, the ball cap, I thought the Liberal team proved itself smart and quite capable. However, I also believe that we've extrapolated that temporary feel good period and it's led to a needlessly risky fall strategy. Ottawa is the game, there is no other arena and the opposition leader gets the most traction where that action exists. Ignatieff will get some local coverage, he will get some national coverage, he will get some "on the road" soundbites, no question. That said, it seems pretty obvious from here how those perceived positives can be quickly undone. Factor in the "it gets old" component, the story loses its new, fresh appeal and Ignatieff might look like he's nowhere.

Right now, the thing the Liberals need is a strong leader, leading a strong, united, capable opposition, give all the appearance of a government in waiting. I'm just not sold with the idea that "getting out of Ottawa" addresses our current need, and in the end the strategy may just produce a few self inflicted wounds.

Two cents.


penlan said...

I get your point. Remember Harper is now going to do a tour this Fall as well (copycat) & having MI in Ottawa while Harper's away just might look really good.

Steve V said...

"having MI in Ottawa while Harper's away just might look really good."

But, in saying that, you've just provided why the opposite might be really bad.

It's a question of degree, being away to much might backfire.

ottlib said...

Remember Don Martin is the same pundit who stated Conservative members are happy about the idea of the defeat of the Gun Registry bill because it will propel them to a majority.

Except when the Conservatives do something so outrageously stupid he cannot ignore it Don Martin is a Conservative supporter. He does not want to see a Liberal government or Liberal success so anything he writes about the Liberals should be suspect. Incidentally, the Liberals know this. They know he will spin anything they say in a negative light so he probably does not have any sources within the inner circle.

BTW, I wonder is he still believes the Conservatives are happy about the prospect of the Registry bill being defeated considering Mr. Baird's statements today?

Steve V said...

I like Martin. He's an equal opportunity critic, that cuts to the chase. All Martin does in this column is repeat the known agenda. The Liberals have said Ignatieff will spend lots of time on the road, so I'm not sure I understand the point ottlib?

Gayle said...

I thought that column was quite positive. No doubt certain Blue conservative bloggers are going to complain about how biased Don Martin is.

I also think he calls them the way he sees them. I do not alwasy agree, but I have never thought his columns reflected any bias.

Malcolm Barry said...

There is a time and place for everything and if the house is in session, Leaders should be there. Ignatieff can handle himself as he is an intelligent person ands voters are realizing this. On special occasions he may have to be out of Ottawa and that is acceptable.

jad said...

I thought the whole point of the summer tour was to give Ignatieff an opportunity to practice and develop his skills as a leader so he didn't get embarrassed so much when he has to go up against the other leaders in Ottawa.

Since the handlers want to keep him out of Ottawa a bit longer, I guess the practice didn't go so well.

Steve V said...



JF said...

I dunno, I rate news columnists on the "Spade is a Spade" basis...

A: Do they call a spade a spade?
B: Do they do so regardless of who holds the card?

IMO Martin rates "ok" on that basis. He'll call out folk on every end of the spectrum albeit I thinks he cut's the Tories a bit more slack then the others. But when you compare him to guys like Coyne* or Spector (Who'll villify non-tories at the drop of a hat and frequently stay silent or call a spade a heart when it's tories holding the card) he'll look like a paragon of journalistic integrity.

*Note on Coyne: HE's a pertisan hack but at least he's a well written partisan hack.

Gayle said...

"I thought the whole point of the summer tour was to give Ignatieff an opportunity to practice and develop his skills as a leader so he didn't get embarrassed so much when he has to go up against the other leaders in Ottawa."

No. It was to give him practice on the campaign trail, which it did.