Musings —05.28.2010 06:39 AM—
There are thoughtful Conservatives! It’s true!
One of them – a guy/gal who is a good friend and is indeed what the media call a “senior” Harper Conservative – has written to me to critique the notion of a Liberal/NDP coalition/merger/arrangement.
His/her critique is fair and well-constructed. But what interested me wasn’t so much the substance of the analysis – it was the fact that it was offered, gratis.
I showed it to a former Ignatieff staffer yesterday afternoon. Reaction: “The Harper guys are watching the coalition speculation because they are concerned that this might actually happen. They know it’s a threat.”
Some free political analysis and advice from a Tory…
Never assume that 1 + 1 = 2 in the world of political mergers/coalitions.
Following the merger of the CA and PC Party in 2003 the new CPC’s popular support was lower than the combined support of the two legacy parties. In fact, the CPC’s vote share in both the 2004 and 2006 elections was lower than the combined vote share of the CA and PC Party in the 2000 election. It wasn’t until the 2008 election that the CPC won a vote share that (approximately) equaled the 2000 CA-PC Party combined total (albeit with a very different electoral coalition).
Following the merger many former PC Party voters (Red Tories) went to the Liberals and many former Reform Party/Canadian Alliance voters went to the NDP (anti-establishment protest voters). Similarly you should expect that a new Liberal-NDP coalition/merger/arrangement would lose the support of many “Business Liberals” as well as large numbers of current, anti-establishment NDP voters who previously voted for Preston Manning and Stockwell Day. I also suspect that most NDP voters in QC would vote for the Bloc rather than a Liberal-NDP ticket and many radicalized, anti-establishment New Democrats in English Canada would move to the Greens.
As you can see it’s not as simple as there are “3 million” extra NDP votes on the table. You would still need the Bloc. (In fact you would be even more reliant on the Bloc if the new “Liberal Democrats” were less popular than the two centre-left legacy parties standing on their own).
In the end the merger gamble worked out for us. But that doesn’t mean it will work out for you guys – particularly if there is a formalized role/process for the Bloc as there was in 2008. And the brand legacy of Laurier, Mackenzie King, Trudeau and Chretien hangs in the balance. Have fun.