Sunday, May 15, 2011

Liberals Never Go On The Back Burner

After the election, much talk that the Liberals would fade to the background, being that third party attention would lead to inevitable wane. I would submit the Liberals never become an afterthought in this Parliament, partially BECAUSE of make up, which is a strange assertion I know.

Majority government's are BORING, in the sense that they're predictable, opposition attacks never have "teeth", there is a comfort which translates to disinterest. The drama isn't the same under a majority situation, every twist isn't analyzed to death, the endless election speculation removed, which I would argue constituted a large percentage of overall focus. We will still have focus on contentious issues as they arise, but it's a much different rhythm in a majority than a minority. With a more structured storyline in Parliament, I would contend fascination with the internal machinations of the Liberal Party will maintain top billing, this idea that we fade to oblivion not a terribly large concern.

The NDP will certainly garner media attention, as people look to see how they handle their new found status, manage new MP's, grow into their role, that is a compelling story. Apart from this novelty, I would submit, most of the "action" will be on the Liberal side, for better or for worse. The little third party will command disproportionate attention, I'm absolutely convinced of it. It's not borne of positives, it's a function of upheaval, uncertainty, precarious existence, conventions, leadership, rebuildings, a fascinating concoction that will generate total fixation. In other words, the Liberals will remain on the political front burner, because that's where all the intrigue exists, particularly in a bland majority Ottawa.

I don't suspect the "rash" of news about the Liberals is temporary, because the story lines have ENDLESS oxygen, for those desperate for ink, you can make a living off this party, many already HAVE. A bit of habit here, but everyone wants to know what happens to the "natural governing party", do they actually die or do they rebound? Everyone will watch every twist on that road, and while a great portion of coverage may not be flattering, for a party desperate to keep itself in the public consciousness, attention is a good thing. As they say, "it's when they stop talking about you" that you really need worry, and I'm so NOT worried about that part of the equation moving forward.

26 comments:

Omar said...

A fascinating concoction that will generate total fixation?

While I admire the pithiness of your hypothesis, I believe your prediction treads slightly toward the otherworldly. But, you go girl!

Steve V said...

I have no idea what that means.

A Eliz. said...

Did you understand th letter from Robert Hamish Jamieson, beccause it was clear as mud to me.

Steve V said...

I have no idea to be honest, and we DESPERATELY need some clarity on the leadership timing options.

Omar said...

I was poking fun at this rather windy statement:

The little third party will command disproportionate attention, I'm absolutely convinced of it. It's not borne of positives, it's a function of upheaval, uncertainty, precarious existence, conventions, leadership, rebuildings, a fascinating concoction that will generate total fixation. In other words, the Liberals will remain on the political front burner, because that's where all the intrigue exists, particularly in a bland majority Ottawa.

I mean, come on. I thought about calling you delusional.

Steve V said...

Come back in a year or two :)

I didn't say the focus would be positive, but I have little doubt the Libs will receive more coverage than seat count merits.

Jerry Prager said...

If the Liberal party is taken over by youth dedicated to investigating policies dedicated to governing from within the radical centre, the Liberal Party will become the alternate narrative, especially if Liberals abandon all interest in pandering to corporatism and their media mouthpieces.
The NDP have their own media and therefor their narrative is much less shaped by what corporatism says about them: nonetheless, because unions and corporations are inescapably bound, conservatives will establish the narrative, and the NDP will have to respond to it.
If liberalism can create its own narrative through new and alternative non-corporatist, liberal democratic media, it won't matter what MSM says about anything.
If liberalism comes up with a non-corporatist agenda, it will be because it was able to establish non-corporatist media narratives.

Steve V said...

I agree, which is why I keep saying we need generational change. A lot of this is up to the Liberals but if we incorporate some compelling reforms, new leadership, reinvigorated brand, people aren't going to ignore the Liberal Party. I understand the herculian challenges ahead, so I'm not trying to discount REALITY, but I don't see us falling off the radar, as much as seat count would suggest. To clarify as well, in a majority, the opposition forever has a hard time, the NDP, despite their growth, will face terrific challenges as well, if history is any guide. I'll use Ontario as my example, I can count on my hand how many times I've seen Hudak's face on the news in the last year.

Majorities offer little intrigue, the Liberals have an opportunity to fill some of that "void" and simple events, should ensure some focus.

Kirk said...

'cuase I'm feeling snotty I'll just quote a post of mine here from May 9th:

The Liberals are an easy target, I don't expect them to be left alone and the media will follow that lead as it's a better story than a re-introduced budget or an omnibus bill of old crime legislation.

The final death of the Liberal Party! That's the only story outside of Layton's balancing act once the media is done flogging those young MPs.


Of course the resurrection of the Liberal Party would be a better story than it's death. The Liberal's "adventures" will be an ongoing story it will get more coverage than the introduction of a piece of legislation and it's inevitable passage.

Layton and the NDP are in the same position if their Quebec MPs provide a nice, gossipy ongoing story for the media to fixate on.

I'll also note that Clement's photo op on somehow calling "big oil" to account, a true sequel to Harper's campaign photo ops, signals that they intend, for now, to govern by campaigning even with their majority. They know, if the media doesn't, that they gained only 2% of the popular vote this election and are not yet the dynasty they long to be.

Miles Lunn said...

In some ways a majority government gives the Liberals a chance to do a major re-make. If you look at 1958-1962 and 1984-1993, that is when the Liberals went through the biggest transitions and ultimately came back so in some ways with a majority they don't have to worry about election readiness and can focus on rebuilding. As for the NDP, they will come under greater scrutiny than ever before and a lot will depend on how well they perform. Also a lot will depend on how far right the Tories move. If they are only slightly right of centre, it will be a lot tougher to come back then if they swing hard to the right as the gap between the Tories and NDP is much larger than Liberals and Tories thus getting Tory voters to switch to the NDP is much harder than getting them to switch to the Liberals. If they swing too hard to the right, there will be a strong desire for a centrist alternative but if both the NDP and Tories are only slightly off the centre, then less so.

Steve V said...

Kirk

It is gossipy and you'll note the passage I'm called upon mentions it isn't because of POSITIVIES, it's upheaval, leadership, things the MEDIA loves, and has always LOVED about the Liberal Party. The rest, as Jerry points out, if we can make a positive impact, get a compelling leader, etc, then the narrative becomes "are the Liberals getting their act together?".

I think the problem might be this idea gets translated to not understanding how BAD it really is for the Liberals, when that's not the case at all. My singular point here, don't worry about complete obscurity, because our future dictates certain attention, now let's use to to advantage.

Miles

I've heard a few people say that a majority gives us the time to develop properly, rather than quick points because we fear a looming election. Of course we don't operate in isolation, so what you say about the political spectrum, I fully expect the NDP to move more towards the Dexter model and try to seize a center left position. We still might get squeezed, but that remains to be seen.

A Eliz. said...

I think the Liberals had great roots from 1962 to 1983 and things started to get bad aftter Trudeau up until 2006. The upper echelons have been here through eternity

Marpman said...

I expect the NDP will sound much like the BC NDP party did under Carole James....screeching banshees...shrill. The Liberal party does have the opportunity to construct a baseline for effective opposition.
I expect that Harper will be very busy implementing all of his wonderful vision of Canada. Much of this we know already...so it will not gather much public interest. Fighters, LGR, Senate change are all old news...nobody is interested.
I am hopeful that people will tire of this and look further. Quebec offers some real potential, once they realize what they have done, they will move back.
Layton is in a precarious spot...he has to show that he was (is) worthy of the trust Canadians have placed upon him...in a majority situation. I expect his Quebec MPs are one-shot wonders....

Steve V said...

I'm also curious how Layton's popularity fares given the role of Leader of Opp, history says we can expect a wane, but this is somewhat of a unique circumstance.

Dylan said...

Now THAT sounds entitled :)

Liberals (or should I say Liberalism) across the country will have plenty of opportunity to stay relevant through the number of provincial elections that are slated between now and the next Federal election in 2015.

That being said, some provincial Liberal parties are more connected to the federal scene and some are less. However, most volunteers and candidates will overlap. In provinces where the two are more closely linked (like here in Manitoba) there needs to be greater conversation between both entities so that each volunteer, candidate, election and victory build on the next.

Steve V said...

If it does sound entitled that wasn't the intent, I just think until we are actually dead, our political class will remain fascinated with the party machinations. I'd just prefer it's for reforms rather than a gong show, and that part is up to us.

Dylan said...

"If it does sound entitled that wasn't the intent" No worries, I understood what you meant - just yankin' the chain.

"I'd just prefer it's for reforms rather than a gong show, and that part is up to us."

You've got that right. But we ought to be keenly aware that any innovation, reform, or progress that happens within the party from now until E-Day will be brushed off by the CPC and NDP as being a charade/gong show/grasping at straws/etc. What we cannot afford is to have that mentality OURSELVES - and in fact, I'd rather have opposition to change be loud than a quiet reservation that chooses to follow along rather than act. Revitalization begins with dialogue.

Kirk said...

As to policy reform and defining that new center... check this article to start a conversation:

Liberals have to create a new political centre

Steve V said...

"Revitalization begins with dialogue"

No shortage there, I'm really quite impressed with all the debate going on, it's refreshing.

Steve V said...

Kirk

Good read!

Jerry Prager said...

There are two other narratives that will unfold as well, the first is the bad news that Harper himself is so capable of creating, (sure, he'll play moderate and nice until the Ontario election in the hopes that he can conjure up some Hoodoo for Hudak, but there is Fraser's G20 report, the trial of Findlay and co, the Racketeers and the PMO story raised by Duceppe, Carson and the PMO etc, plus all the new corruption that will arise because of Harper's personal hypocrisies.

His continuous fall from grace while seemingly being forgiven and sustained by corporatist media will converge with the second narrative,
the anti-corporatist movement that is going to challenge the Security and Prosperity Perimeter deal, a challenge that will begin on the first anniversary of the G20 rights debacle this June.

The violations lead back to the PMO via Wm Elliot's RCMP, and Fantino's OPP.

The anti-corporatist itself movement will then pick up steam as the Americans move towards their 2012 presidential election,as recalls of republican governors for agendas that Harper shares, begin in earnest; making it impossible for MSM to keep their blackout of the Wisconsin movement from hitting Prime Time in the States or here.
So far the revolutionary nature of the Wisconsin movement seems to be known in Canada only to the NDP and Greens, again because they have their own media, but the Second American Revolution is coming, and will trigger an awakening in Canada.

Canadian liberals, fueled by young members, will have the easiest time finding the radical centre in the midst of that change, because the party itself is in the midst of a revolution from within.

Jerry Prager said...

The Liberals need to follow the lead of Milliken and embrace the British constitutionalism that gave us both the Westminster system AND the charter of rights and freedoms, embrace commonwealth equal liberty, abandon republicanism, and defend the existence of a non-continental Canada, a people who still have national aspirations distinct from American dreams.

Honour Canadian history, the blood of loyalists, the traditions of the monarchy and yet modify our relations with the Royals through commonwealth charters, leaving Westminsters' essential beauty intact while moving the monarchy into an even more ceremonial role in order to defend the constitutional continuity of the crown that chartered our rights and freedoms.

The radical centre transforms from within, rather than alters externals in hopes of finding itself somewhere else.

sharonapple88 said...

The Liberals might gain attention because of the leadership race, but there are some important issues coming up -- the new Auditor General appointment, the G8/G20 report, the crime bill, the budget -- that need the party's attention as well.

Steve V said...

Agreed, and we still have quite a bit of experience and respected talent, which will help on the "attention" front.

Jerry Prager said...

oops on the double posting, thought I got rid of the first one.

sharonapple88 said...

Agreed, and we still have quite a bit of experience and respected talent, which will help on the "attention" front.

Apparently, the Conservatives are thinking of breaking the monopoly of the Canadian Wheat Board. Ralph Goodale would be good to take the lead on this issue at least.