Friday, March 25, 2011

Cookie Cutter Won't Cut It

Whenever you recommend something different from the status quo, you get resistance from, well, the status quo. Reinforcement loops exist, because the known provides comfort, the notion of anything different and feedback unchallenged can easily turn into reckless, even dangerous. It is for this reason why the word bold is so often disregarded by politicos, rather than playing it safe, the standard cookie cutter campaign. There are countless examples of leaders, party's, that dared to stick their neck out, only to get it severed off by ready to pounce opponents.

I agree that bold in and of itself is risky, particularly in a campaign where things can spin out of control quickly. However, I also believe one requires a sober, accurate read, to best gauge the potential benefits and inherent pitfalls. Let's face it, the electorate is absolutely bored stiff, they see nothing attractive, they see nothing to motivate beyond a sense of duty. We lack a passion in the land, outside of the diehard contingent, and because of this irrefutable reality, the Liberals will simply not gain the necessary traction in the standard campaign. By standard, I mean the all to common political ads, the same old stump speeches, the robotic daily messenging, all the standard fare that the pros use to run a campaign. I'm not suggesting one abandon the accumulated knowledge, the campaign templates, but the "seen it a million times" presentation will simply not shake the electorate, not in a way that can lead to a Liberal victory. Boredom is the Conservatives ally, nobody is going to pick change when they see more of the same. The Liberals need a spark, and that can come with a outside the box policy, an edgy ad that challenges conventions, unique ways to connect.

I will be looking for creativity, a sense that the brand is being reinvigorated using new techniques and strategies. I want to see the Liberals use social media provocatively, I'd love to see Ignatieff actually use twitter, on the road, beyond stale messaging for example. I want to see ads that don't resemble every ad I've ever seen for the last decade, the feel, the message, the music, the blah! Not reckless, but modern, push the boundaries, do things that make people actually stop for a second and say "I like that, that's different". If left to established templates, standard operating procedures, I think we will fail to capture people's imaginations, and given the odds at hand, that equates to a less than optimal result.

47 comments:

Sean Cummings said...

I think this election will go south very early for Liberals if Ignatieff fails to rule out the coalition bugaboo. It can't be "red door/blue door". Canadians might stomach a coalition of the NDP and Liberals but they won't put up with a coalition involving people who want to break up the country.

Ignatieff needs to rule it out immediately and in no uncertain terms otherwise this election is going to be about why the Tories need to win to keep a coalition with the separatists from happening.

Coyne has an excellent analysis of this on his blog this morning.

Gene Rayburn said...

Holy shit Sean what's with the identical talking point being shoved out. Are the conbots too lazy to personalize it?

Steve V said...

I agree, and the red door/blue door response is supposed to be our strategy to squeeze out the other parties. The "two choices" narrative, I FULLY endorse, say it often and everywhere. I think Ignatieff tried to use this line in that context, but ended up giving a lame response on the coalition question.

Ignatieff needs a soundbite response, repeated, and the media will tire of the question. I believe the Conservatives are playing this card way to early, it will wane, if we are firm in how we address it.

gwilliamjr said...

Unless there is a new message there cannot be a new style of getting it out. And, reading comments from Mcleans, CTV, NP and the Globe today I'd say the idea of a Coaltion has taken "voter apathy" out of the story. Ignatief has to answer this and it has to be soon or this could get south of south in a hurry.

rockfish said...

The response to the coalition boogeyman has to be firm and sweet; I agree with Steve, the CONs are gambling that this will fire up the electorate at a time when it could quickly become cold ashes by the third week of the campaign.
What I want to see early in the campaign is that hinted-at policy on democratic improvements -- dumping the first-past-the-post could mobilize a whole wave of uncommitted into action. I don't know if the Liberals are that bold, however.

ottlib said...

An election theme would be a fine thing. Stop with these campaigns where all the Liberals do is announce random policy proposals. Tie them altogether with a narrative and they should see more success.

gwilliam, you don't really believe that ordinary non-partisan Canadians comment on these news sites do you? I stopped reading these comments when I realized that the same people commented on them day in, day out. You would see the same people on all of them making the same comments. Pathetic really.

The only people who care about all of this coalition BS is politicos and the chattering classes. At this early stage of the game no one else cares.

Steve V said...

OMG, can we dispense with the "runaway train" shit, the campaign hasn't even started. YES, he has to address, but chill out. First campaign people??

Tof KW said...

How about...

If I wanted to run a coalition government, I would be Prime Minister now and Harper would be gone.

It's what Ignatieff said two years ago, and it's just as valid today.

Steve V said...

KW

He has that line in the repetoire! Said it a few times "I had a coalition offer, I turned it down, period". And, it's true! Seriously, I think he mangled the two choices narrative into the coalition question, hence doors.

Tof KW said...

Agreed, and notice it's the CPC supports here who are demanding this be answered ...and they have ulterior motives for muddying the blue door - red door choice to voters.

gwilliamjr said...

OttLib: Andrew freakin Coyne is writing about it. Nothing to see here though.

Tof KW said...

gwilliamjr, don't you think it's kind of silly to answer a hypothetical question?

What if the CPC only wins 115 seats with the LPC 114, NDP 30, BQ 49? Should Harper be asked if he would form a coalition government to survive?

No, because it's a hypothetical question. The election has to happen to find out the seat distribution before ANY party can talk about a coalition.

Talk of 'what if' is pointless.

If Harper wins a plurality again (which he probably will) then he's awarded first chance to form a government under our constitution. If he can't gain the confidence of the house, then the GG will ask if Ignatieff can do so. if he can't we go to the polls again.

But we won't know what will happen until the Canadian voters provide us with the make-up of the next parliament.

Until then, Iggy runs to be PM under a Liberal government, just like Harper is running to be PM under a CPC government. Pretty simple, and Coyne should know this.

Sean Cummings said...

TofKW wrote:
>>If I wanted to run a coalition government, I would be Prime Minister now and Harper would be gone.
<<

How about. "No coalition with the NDP and Bloc ever."

It sounds much more unequivocal that way. Say it loud, make it unmistakable and it will go away.

Tof KW said...

BTW folks mark the time...

14:22 - 25 March 2011

The fortieth parliament is done!

Jerry Prager said...

Speak to the majority Mr. Ignatieff, speaking to the coalition of Canadian voters who have kept liberal democracy alive in this country.

Tof KW said...

Will Harper say "No coalition with the NDP and Bloc ever" ???

I doubt it, so Iggy doesn't need to either.

You missed the whole point about this being hypothetical.

Jerry Prager said...

Every time coalition comes up, discuss the coalition of VOTERS.

Steve V said...

Mansbridge just now on "poll out later today that shows gap MUCH LOWER THAN THE ONE OUT YESTERDAY". "

gwilliamjr said...

Harper doesnt have to say it, Ignatief does if he wants to limit the Cons to a minority. Spin it anyway you want, but, its now the main issue and will remain the issue until its either yes or no. The election about ethics just became the election about Ignatief and a coalition, and, the election hasnt even started yet.

Steve V said...

"The election about ethics just became the election about Ignatief and a coalition, and, the election hasnt even started yet."

Bahaha!!!!!

Kirk said...

The Liberals need to bring out their democratic reform package sometime next week if they want to make that a big part of the election.

Also, the debates will be huge since they will allow Canadians to see Ignatieff unfiltered, many for the first time.

Just heard Harper complain that this will be the 4th election in 7 years.

Wonder if anyone in the media will point out that Harper is the cause of two of those 4 elections, once in 2008 and back in 2005 when he brought down Martin.

Tof KW said...

gwilliamjr said...
Harper doesnt have to say it

YES HE DOES!

What if he only gets 1 more riding than the Liberals. Does Harper form a coalition with the NDP & Bloc?

It's the same fucking question you're demanding Iggy answer.

Sean Cummings said...

>>TofKW said:

YES HE DOES!<<

Nope. It's on Ignatieff to answer this and clear the air on this matter immediately or it will cast a huge shadow over the entire Liberal campaign.

Hell, he could probably get away with saying, "Coalition with the NDP only" and win some votes, but if there's any inkling of Bloc participation in a coalition government, then Iggy will go down in flames.

It would be interesting, though, if Harper were to go to the GG tomorrow and recommend that the GG ask the Leader of the Opposition to form a government and spare Canadians this election. Part of me thinks Harper might actually do that because holy crap ... Ignatieff would have to be clear in his intentions were that to happen!

Jerry Prager said...

If I recall Steve, Iggy's use of that particular coalition response (I could be PMO now) started a few days after you blogged that answer, which was also, if I recall, just before you became a hotshot important blogger.

Kirk said...

Tof KW, Harper should answer if the Cons and the Libs get the same number of seats if he should form a coalition if he wants to be PM or he thinks he can be PM with an equal number of seats to the Liberals.

I'd like to see the NDP remind voters again and again that Harper wanted to form a coalition with them and the Bloc in 2004.

For the NDP this plays to their line that they have been and still are willing to work to make Parliament function and attacks the party that they are fighting against in the West.

Steve V said...

Jerry

LOL on the latter, but you might be right they lifted my line ;)

Kirk said...

The media is parroting the Cons once again.

Coalition, coalition, coalition. The Media Party of Canada, a division of the Conservative Party of Canada.

gwilliamjr said...

Ok TofKW, then why the fuck is no one in the media asking Harper to answer it? Two days ago Ignatief left a media poduim with every single member of the press yelling at him to answer the question. What the fuck is it you dont see?
YOU may want Harper to answer it, but, he doesnt have to answer it because he didnt sign a Coalition Document two years ago, and, he's not 12 or 18 points back. So, you can wish it away if you like and close your eyes and go to your happy place, but, it aint going away, the TMZ that is the Canadian MSM wont let it go away.

Steve V said...

I will say it again, does anyone think this nanosecond attention span press corp will KEEP asking this question throughout the campaign? I submit, the Cons have played their hand to early here, and reporters will get bored with the question.

gwilliam

First campaign eh? You're a riot.

Kirk said...

gwilliamjr said...

Ok TofKW, then why the fuck is no one in the media asking Harper to answer it?
===========
Maybe that's because the media has only been allowed 2 questions of Harper since the budget.

Maybe, it's because the media loves to parrot Con talking points whenever they can.

Tof KW said...

Sean, Harper tried to form a coalition with the Bloc in 2005 just the same as Dion tried in 2008. Dion's wasn't 'formal' either with the BQ, they only agreed to support budget votes for 1.5 years. Formal coalition was with the NDP.

Harper had a legitamate case to investigate a deal with the NDP and BQ in 2005. Likewise Dion had a case to do so in 2008.

Ignatieff would have a case if Harper wins in 2011, but loses confidence again quickly. But this is hypothetical, we won't know until the voters select the next parliament.

If you're asking Iggy about hypotheticals than Harper has to answer the same question.

BTW Iggy's answer is: No coalition, I want to be PM of a Liberal government. Full stop.

Want it clearer?

Final, although YOU want this to be about the coalition, I'm pretty certain the voters will want it to be about health care, jobs and who's most trusted to deliver on these. And yes probably that issue of ETHICS will be out there too.

Kirk said...

I think Mansbridge just put this coalition issue well and Ignatieff and the Liberals would be well advised to listen.

Mansbridge said Ignatieff should say (slightly paraphrasing) "If Harper gets the most seats he will have the first chance to form a government."

This is an answer that respects our democratic system where coalitions are legal and proper but could well stop the media's blah, blah, blah about coalitions.

Kirk said...

It's interesting that while 100% of the questions to Ignatieff were about the coalition their questions to his supposed "coalition partner" have been much more varied.

There is no Liberal coalition without the NDP but the media don't seem as interested in getting Layton to answer if he'll form/push a coalition with the Liberals.

Jerry Prager said...

Here's an answer to the press: Hey, do all you people still work for the PMO ?

Fred from BC said...

Tof KW said...

Sean, Harper tried to form a coalition with the Bloc in 2005 just the same as Dion tried in 2008.


No, he did not. What he actually did was write a letter to the GG, signed by the other Opposition parties, reminding her that he *could* form such a coalition if necessary. It was an obvious pressure tactic (well, obvious to those of us who actually think things through before coming to a conclusion), and part of the strategy that brought Paul Martin's government down.


Dion's wasn't 'formal' either with the BQ, they only agreed to support budget votes for 1.5 years. Formal coalition was with the NDP.


Speaking of that, the agreement is still in place...until June, isn't it? You might want to prepare to address that issue...

Steve V said...

Fred, that's just LAME spin, he signed the letter, the intent was clear, it was not a tactic but an attempt to snatch power. NOBODY, but the Con base disputes this fact, and if you can't admit it, speaks VERY poorly about your insights here.

gwilliamjr said...

First campaign? No, but good dig. I helped make signs for Liberal Norm Caffik in the mid 70's, Pickering riding. I watched a bit of the press conference and it seems the MSM wont let this go, and, who do you think will make sure they dont let it go. I guess I'm still a riot.

Shiner said...

Speaking of that, the agreement is still in place...until June, isn't it? You might want to prepare to address that issue...

Yes TofKW, you personally should be diligently coming up with talking points for the Liberal Party of Canada. Thank Fred for his friendly advice. Man am I looking forward to the avalanche of stupid that comes with an information age election. Suddenly everyone becomes an ace political operative.

Steve V said...

"I watched a bit of the press conference and it seems the MSM wont let this go"

Yes, because the press has a great attention span doesn't it. Let's talk next Thursday and see what the scrum questions are :)

gwilliamjr said...

Fair enough, I've been wrong way more times then I've been right when it comes to politics and politicians.

Steve V said...

I will say this, the fact we seem to have been caught flat footed on this question is surprising.

ottlib said...

gwilliamjr said:

"OttLib: Andrew freakin Coyne is writing about it. Nothing to see here though."

Yep and I would characterize Mr. Coyne as one of those ordinary Canadians that I talked about.

Steve:

I am not certain if they were caught flat footed or if they just cannot find a billion different ways to say the same thing.

Mr. Ignatieff has answered the question, again and again, but the media just does not want to let it go. And as has been pointed out here they are only asking it of one potential coalition partner. What of the rest?

At any rate experience has taught us that the important issues at the beginning of an election are rarely the important issues at the end of an election. The Liberals just need to endure this BS for a day or two and the "national conversation" will move on.

PS: The word verification for this comment was "nonsence". Not the proper spelling but it still sums it up nicely.

Fred from BC said...

Steve V said...

Fred, that's just LAME spin, he signed the letter, the intent was clear, it was not a tactic but an attempt to snatch power.


Read it for yourself:


September 9, 2004

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson,
C.C., C.M.M., C.O.M., C.D.
Governor General
Rideau Hall
1 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A1

Excellency,

As leaders of the opposition parties, we are well aware that, given the Liberal minority government, you could be asked by the Prime Minister
to dissolve the 38th Parliament at any time should the House of Commons fail to support some part of the government's program.

We respectfully point out that the opposition parties, who together constitute a majority in the House, have been in close consultation. We
believe that, should a request for dissolution arise this should give you cause, as constitutional practice has determined, to consult the
opposition leaders and consider all of your options before exercising your constitutional authority.

Your attention to this matter is appreciated.

Sincerely,

Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Leader of the Opposition
Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada



Okay, it turns out that I was wrong about one thing: the other party leaders actually *didn't* sign it, but that fact strengthens my case while weakening yours. It was exactly what I said it was: a pressure tactic. And it worked.


NOBODY, but the Con base disputes this fact, and if you can't admit it, speaks VERY poorly about your insights here.


This clearly isn't as personal for me as it is for you. It's just politics...it's a game, and one that Stephen Harper just happens to be quite good at. His mistakes are few and far between, and even when he does make one he learns quickly from it. Your rose-colored glasses are interfering with your vision, Steve...

Fred from BC said...

Steve V said...

He has that line in the repetoire! Said it a few times "I had a coalition offer, I turned it down, period". And, it's true!


(speaking of 'lame spin'...)

So the immediate and rather vehement rejection of that coalition by the Canadian public didn't factor into it at all?

When the Liberal numbers dropped to 20% and the NDP 10%? No? Not a bit?

We can disagree without being insulting here, can't we?

Fred from BC said...

Shiner said...

Speaking of that, the agreement is still in place...until June, isn't it? You might want to prepare to address that issue...

Yes TofKW, you personally should be diligently coming up with talking points for the Liberal Party of Canada.



No, 'you' as in 'you Liberals'.

(did I *really* have to spell that out for you? wow...)


Thank Fred for his friendly advice.


No charge. :)


Man am I looking forward to the avalanche of stupid that comes with an information age election. Suddenly everyone becomes an ace political operative.


Like you?

Steve V said...

"Okay, it turns out that I was wrong"

And I wasn't wrong about anything :) Spin all you want Fred, but your boy would have entered into the unholy coalition at the drop of a hat if he could have. PERIOD! Deal with it, I don't have time for bullshit.

Fred from BC said...

Steve V said...

"Okay, it turns out that I was wrong"

And I wasn't wrong about anything :)



Ooops. Turns out that i had it right the first time. Oh well...doesn't change the outcome any.


Spin all you want Fred, but your boy would have entered into the unholy coalition at the drop of a hat if he could have. PERIOD! Deal with it, I don't have time for bullshit.


I see. So yesterday's relevation that Gille Duceppe swore at the time the letter was written that there would be NO COALITION doesn't sway you at all, huh? That's fine. You go right ahead and believe what you want...you go right ahead and believe that Stephen Harper didn't think he would easily win the next election if he could just make it happen. I don't buy his "co-opposition" explanation either, but only because I know the truth: that it was just another strategic move to force an increasingly desperate Paul Martin to gamble on an early election call, and the optics of such a strategy don't play well when you're trying to make the public see you as a nice guy. That's Politics 101, Steve. Deal with that. :)