Winning campaign managers – John Rae, Don Guy, et al. – make the Sphinx look like a chatterbox. They don’t give interviews before, during or after campaigns. They don’t talk about campaign strategy in the media. Ever.
Sure: they will occasionally send out guys like me to say something that they, or the leader, can’t say. That’s true. But personally write chatty op-eds for newspapers about what went wrong, and what went right? They only do that if:
- they’re looking for work, or they want to boost their billable rate
- they’re thinking about writing a book which no one will read
- they’ve been exiled to Elba, and they want to hitch a ride back home
Jenni Byrne’s column in this morning’s Globe and Mail seems to fall into the third category. She isn’t working as a lobbyist, and she probably knows that nobody really buys books by political insiders anymore.
So, she’s conjuring up a here-is-what-really-happened tale in the Globe because she’s in an office somewhere on Bay Street, she’s bored, and she wants to get back into the game. Because exile kinda sucks.
So she puts together 850 words about what really went wrong. When you get past the preliminaries and the throat-clearing, this is why she says the Conservative Party lost its majority and the election:
“The decision during the campaign to turn our guns on the NDP was a mistake. They were never the party’s enemy. The final straw was when the party went after the NDP on the niqab issue. It crushed the NDP in Quebec, but it also removed them as a viable alternative in the rest of the country, something Conservatives needed them to be.”
Hmmm. I see.
There she was: the most powerful unelected person in Canada, “losing the argument” about the niqab and the NDP. Gotcha.
Except, you know, the Conservative Party had been in a spit-flecked fury about the niqab long, long before the 2015 election campaign, hadn’t it? Heck, just about everyone had been niqab-bashing – the Liberal Party of Canada included, about which (by the by) the current leader hadn’t said a whole lot – and for about a half a decade, too. Was in all the papers.
In other words, Ms. Byrne had had plenty of time to object to the niqab garbage (which, to some of us, it always was and always will be). She also had the authority to say: “No, we aren’t going to do our own version of the Southern Strategy, boys.”
Nope, she didn’t do that. Nope.
Look, I love post-campaign books as much as the next guy. I’ve written a couple myself, and they sold pretty good.
But if you have a political tale to tell, Ms. Byrne, try and make sure it’s, you know, true.