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The time isn't to panic.. the time is to rethink strategy.

I won’t sugar-coat my views on things; the latest set of polls are not good for those of us in the Liberal camp. The latest includes today’s Ekos poll release, that has a few of us Liberal-allied blogs smarting. I’m sure the Liberal politicians and strategists are smarting even worse.

I have a few qualifiers over these polling disappointments – I’m still not convinced we’d have seen this big of a drop-off if the Liberals had managed to force an election the past 2 weeks. I think people would have been grumpy and then gotten on to accepting it. However, it’s obvious that the charge that the Liberals and Ignatieff were forcing an election “for no good reason” by the other political parties as well as the media has taken its toll. I will contend that it appears now to be a mistake not to have been more forceful in some of our pre-election ads we were running, explaining WHY we wanted an election, and why we were no longer willing to retain confidence in the government. Sure, I didn’t mind the smiley happy ads, but they needed to be mixed in with some more hard-hitting ones.

That leads to my second suggestion that I know most of the Liberal staffers in the Leader’s office won’t like, but I’m going to say it anyhow; more releases of official Liberal policy on certain issues.. and some specifics with them, not just general platitudes. If we’re going to justify having an election, we need more meat to feed some folks as to what we’d do different. We have been getting hammered in the media for this lack of policy or platform – even in the Liberal-friendly Toronto Star. Unfortunately, the prevailing view in the OLO is that if we do that, anything we say is just going to get picked apart by the Conservatives a la Stephane Dion’s Green Shift. I’m not sure I agree; if you release multiple planks, it’s harder to focus on one specific thing. It takes away the media frame that we have nothing different to offer, and presumably, we should be able to communicate better this time around those ideas (since that was a chief criticism of Dion that he couldn’t sell his Green Shift idea properly) not only with the personnel we have but the fact we actually have finances to run ads of our own to help counter any negativity the Conservatives might throw at these.

Finally, I’m going to pick up on a theme that Jeff and Steve have been offering as suggestions that sort of relates to the prior point; we need to stop trying to be risk-averse and actually be a tad bolder in how we defend our views or go after the Conservative government’s views. We have been far too timid in standing up to this Conservative agenda – whether it be on their “law and order” agenda or other things. Our political counterparts in the US – the Democratic Party – faced the same sort of fears from 2002 – 2006. They tried to appease the Republicans views on terrorism and law and order, and still ended up getting pummeled at the ballot box. Only when they pushed back and came out forcefully saying certain things the Republicans had proposed was not the way to go about things did they turn the tide (I believe the theme was “if you get pushed, push back harder”)

That all said, today is not election day, and last I looked, we’re not even in a campaign, so I’m not exactly in panic mode over this. I still think the strategy of opposing the government was the right strategy, but I don’t think the follow-up strategy was the best. If the NDP is going to support the Conservative government until the spring, there is time to correct some of these things. Iggy was quoted in an article today where he acknowledges that he needs to address this apparent fall in support for the LPC and to work hard to regain some lost support from the public. I give him credit for doing do, rather then trying to brush the poll results away, so hopefully that’s a start of the realization that current Liberal strategy has not worked and it’s time for a rethink.

27 comments to The time isn’t to panic.. the time is to rethink strategy.

  • The remaining liberal supporters should not panic. Be honest. The division and internal fighting is responsible for disunity. This affects everything. The grassroots were excluded from selecting a leader in a panic to take back power from the fairytale the government was going to fall very soon.

    The Short game excuse by the backroom boys has been allowed to trample on everything that makes sense for making the party more accountable and democratic.

    The improvement in funding, membership, honeymoon polling numbers were used to justify the lack of adult conversation with the grassroots and public. In a few days the Q3 numbers will show another story, the big fish are tapped out, only 2,000 additional contributors to the Liberal party in 2009 vs 2008. There is no substantial movement or support for the new leader from the public.

    The only demographic that the LPC is leading, is the one that does NOT vote.

    KABOOM.

    Us ex-liberals called conbots have been stating this for months, years about the negative only attacks and hidden agenda crap. Bring a responsible and sensible loyal opposition into the HOC. (The Ottawa Bubble Crap for the last four years has backfired and turned off many Canadians) The CBC,Toronto Star can keep the Liberal party afloat much longer.

    Cheers.

  • Roll Tide

    I predict an election in the fall of 2010. The Olympics and and G8 behind us.
    Plenty of time for Ignatieff to decide what he believes in.

  • A reader

    Keep holding on to that one, because it’s about the only line you guys have left.

    By the way, what’s your rating of the probability of the Liberals forming the governnment after the next election? Yeah, I thought so.

    Funnily enough, I think your last chance to form the government came and went in January. How long do you think it’s going to be before people start realizing that?

  • A reader

    There are more than 2 choices, you know.

    • Savant

      Yep, and none of those ‘other’ choices involve parties that have a chance to form the government.

  • A reader

    Yes, it totally is.

  • Savant

    What will it take for the Liberal party to understand that the public does NOT want an election right now? Because the public seems willing to give the Tories a majiority if the Liberals won’t back down and start cooperating with the government.

    This happened back in June, and also last December. Each time the Liberals threatened an early election, the polls went south. Do the Liberals honestly expect the public to get behind an unknown Liberal leader after less than a year? They wouldn’t do it for Harper, and they won’t do it for Ignatieff.

    The Liberals should be thanking their lucky stars the NDP were smart enough to avert an election, since all indications are it would NOT go well for the Liberals.

    Timing is everything in politics. Now is not the time for an election.

  • No, it’s time to panic.

    • Ti-Guy

      @Gerry Nicholls,

      Taking the opposite of Gerry Nicholls’s advice is usually the wise thing to do.

      You haven’t been right about anything. Ever.

      • Roll Tide

        @Ti-Guy,

        I think Nicholls hopes Ignatieff does not panic, that way the slide will continue. He will say the opposite to throw the liberals off.

    • Roll Tide

      @Gerry Nicholls,

      Layton rescued Ignatieff from a Turner-Kim Campbell type disaster.
      If the writ was dropped, then he would have had to panic. It would have been the biggest miscalculation since Joe Clark in 1980.

      He owes Layton, big time.

  • Lorraine

    If the Liberals have an idea that is good for Canada why would they not propose it to Parliament; sit down with the Prime Minister and see if it could becomes reality.

    Why is it so important to only do things for political gain?

    Harper has asked over and over for the opposition parties to bring forth proposals instead of just criticizing. He did when he was in the Opposition. If you do some research you will find numerous examples of Manning and Harper tabling bills and some were adopted by Chretien’s Liberals.Even Dion’s Clarity Act was almost exactly like Harper’s proposed bill. If it is the right thing to do why does it matter whose idea it is? Don’t the MPs work for the country – not just their political party and getting brownie points?

    So, if it is an idea good for Canada any reason why the Liberals could not propose it? Have it costed and debated with all parties and do something for the citizens.

    • Roll Tide

      @Lorraine,
      This is a good point.

      Ignatieff keeps complaining that not enough money is spent for stimulus…yet Ignatieff is also complaining about the deficit. He wants to spend more, thus increase the deficit, and complain the deficit is too high, its a confused message..
      I suggest Ignatieff needs decide what he believes in.

  • Toe

    Women and Workers and Grassroots. 80% of Canadians do not want the HST, that’s a huge majority, because we know we will end up paying from our pockets, big business will not pass down any savings, they never have. Yet Iggy says – “Problem number 2 is, were we in government and this sales tax is in place and the harmonization has occurred, it’s just not responsible for a party of government to say, well, we’ll tear it up and go back to ground zero. What we can do and what we can say to Ontarians and British Columbians is if there is unfairness, if there are problems, if there are things that are really hurting the local economy, of course we’re going to sit down with the province and say, can we correct this? Can we help? Can we make this fairer for Canadians. That, I’m prepared to do.”

    Wrong Answer. Especially since he said he’d vote against all Con motions. He’s just lost women/workers.

  • Ti-Guy

    I find it amusing to see how many Liberals bloggers are complaining about the media. I well remember when Conservatives were doing the complaining, we were labeled as being whiners or other less friendly names.

    I don’t label Conservative complaints about the media whining. I label it “stupid.” If you have anything to say about the media, you could start by teaching your co-partisans what “bias” really means and how it can be detected. As it stands, the constant shrieking about “bias” has made the Canadian media even dumber and has forced it to adopt the Manichean posture the Americans are used; that every issue has two (and only two) sides.

  • Well you’re right about a few things anyways. Whoever came up with those dumb ads should be fired immediately. We need a party that thinks big? Really? You’re wrong about the election though. Nobody but nobody wants and election right now. The Liberals would have been better off letting us know who they are and what they would do differently in more specific terms than “we’re going to think big”.

    And while we’re at it what happened to grassroots party renewal? I keep getting requests for more money but none for input. Failure to reach down and empower the grassroots may also affect the party come election time. Leveraging social media more effectively (as a collaborative tool rather than a broadcast tool) would be a great start. Increased social media participation could then be converted to on the ground riding organizations that could be far more effective than they are currently.

    Instead what we’re getting is more of the same old same old. One party simply trying to grab power from another party for power’s sake not ours.

  • Joseph

    I agree with you, Ron. And they say there can’t be common ground ;).

  • Ron

    I find it amusing to see how many Liberals bloggers are complaining about the media. I well remember when Conservatives were doing the complaining, we were labeled as being whiners or other less friendly names. The Canadian media is unquestionably bad. They care not a whit for facts, preferring to run gossip and rumour ahead of investigative work. Look at the Ontario Liberal government scandals in recent months (especially e-Health). All of that derived directly from Conservative investigative work and access requests – where were the journalists? Yes, now that you side is taking the brunt, you can see how the lazy media types employ a pile-on reporting technique instead of doing their jobs – When the pendulum swings back and they are all over Harper and loving Ignatieff, please remember – it isn’t because we are being informed or educated; it is because the lazy, low-quality group comprising Canadian journalism is following the herd.

  • S

    I think its time the Liberals started explaining to Canadians (who have been fed the sound byte for the past 5 years) precisely WHY its important to care about what the changes that the Cons have made to diplomatic/foreign policy wording actually MEAN. Stuff like that gets glossed over because it means you have to think about it to get it. Same for Keeping Science in Canada. Generally, people are thing, “too bad for big incompetent Nortel” and forgetting that excellence ATTRACTS excellence in science; no one seems to very concerned about what the christian right has up its sleeve in terms of limiting rights to “left wing fringe groups”. Unfortunately, I think a lot of Canadians appear to have lost the ability to realize that complex problems often require thought-out solutions, and yelling “Get Tough On Crime” isn’t really a social policy that will amount to anything. I don’t think that the liberals have been trying to do this, and frankly, I think that they need to offer up something with substance PDQ. I think much of the general public has been led to believe that opinion is the same as analysis, and if their opinion is that Manditory Sentences Will Fix Everything, then somebody else needs to be bringing some analysis into the media in order to change some opinions.

  • Joseph

    Interesting read . . .

    http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1929058,00.html

    I know everyone wants to tap dance around the press dare they snip at you, but I would love for a prominent liberal to step out and call foul on the press once in a while. I read Canadian news and I see 5 opinion pieces for every news article.

    And that is not including “news” articles that actually turn out to be opinion pieces.

    It may not be a new strategy, but it would project a new attitude. One I’d like to see. I’m tired of being told by the nation’s press – regardless of political bent – telling me what I’m supposed to want.

  • Ti-Guy

    One of the strategies could be to stop using words like “panic” in Liberal communications.

  • Dana

    I agree with all you said Scott.

    However – there’s always one of those isn’t there? – there are two factors that mitigate against the LPC, and in fact every party other than the CPC at least in English Canada, right now.

    One is the collapse in the numbers of people who vote. Some from apathy and some from disgust and contempt. There’s likely nothing that can be done about the disgust and contempt factor – I’m in that group myself now. The apathy factor is probably nearing unaddressable levels as well. I mean when something as clearly anti-populist as the HST has reached inevitability the only sanity preserving strategy is to turn away from the lot of the corporate courtiers in Ottawa and start looking after one’s own and the hell with them and the horse they rode in on.

    The other is the general level of ignorance, dare I say stupidity, among the populace. When they can be sold the idea that a coalition would be a coup as easily as they were or when they are shown to believe that PM’s are directly elected as POTUS’s are – that is an enormous problem. Both those scenarios came about due to CPC opinion manipulation and served *them* very well. That manufacturing those opinions doesn’t serve the country well is another conversation.

    The only thing the LPC – or maybe the NDP – can hope for is a powerfully charismatic individual who can command attention, inspire confidence and hope and run over the CPC like roadkill using the false opinions they created against them.

    Not good for the country either and certainly a dangerous road to travel but short of that (or a series of massive public blunders by Harper himself) there’s not likely to a change anytime soon.

    Canada is once again displaying many of the characteristics of the staid, stolid, conservative, insular, provincial colony it was prior to the Trudeau revolution.

    • Megaman

      Dana – if the public is stupid, were they stupid when they elected three Liberal majorities in a row? Or have they only become stupid since the Liberals lost power?

      • Dana

        @Megaman, The level of ignorance, or stupidity if you’d rather, likely is more or less a constant. The largest difference comes when you examine the turnout numbers. My suspicion is that the largest percentage of those staying home in recent elections are those who are paying enough attention to have recognized that the whole thing has turned into a shell game. Leaving more of the field to the ignorant.

  • I think it can be a few things:
    1. the poll was taken, during the Ringo affair, people going ga ga…and still are.
    2. Ignatieff siding with McGuinty on the HST, which I hate.
    3. The media have gone mad over every little thing..did not take long to cry ‘taxes’ by Ignatieff…..lie.

  • Cathie

    All good comments.

    The demographic that needs attention, for their own sake, are the under 25’s.

    Harper aims attention at the young families.

    But our underemployed warrant attention.

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