Musings —04.25.2011 02:00 PM—
I’m just back from the cabin and saw this. Comments are open for your thoughts.
Layton is Ignatieff’s Pac-man: eats away at his support one dot at a time
We will see if Layton can sustain momentum and whether he has the ground game to deliver. We will also see if Iggy can get Liberals and others to ‘rise-up’ and knock back the surging Dippers.
by TIM POWERS AND WARREN KINSELLA
POWERS: When this goes to print there will still be plenty of time left in the election. A week being a lifetime in politics and all that. But the biggest outcome the 2011 election might be the change it initiates on the centre-left side of the spectrum.
Warren Kinsella might have been a prophet when he among others suggested that the Liberals and the NDP ought to embrace some form of cooperation.
With the fourth week of this campaign drawing to a close and by the accounts of most polls, the Tories have a double digit lead over their opponents, though the Conservatives are still a bit short of a majority. What is really fascinating is that in a couple of polls the NDP is leading all parties in Quebec and in two others they are either tied or ahead of the Liberals nationally. Jack Layton is Michael Ignatieff‘s Pac-man: he is eating away at his support one dot at a time and has the potential to leap frog him. We will see if Layton can sustain momentum and whether he has the ground game to deliver. We will also see if Iggy can get Liberals and others to “rise-up” and knock back the surging Dippers. Depending on the final outcome of the election though that last week might be adding further validity to Kinsella’s cooperation theories.
Ignatieff and this Liberal team seem to be running a campaign for another era. Rather than connecting with voters on pocket-book issues they seem to be lost in some sort of Liberal la-la-land promoting grand national schemes that they have failed to deliver on in the past. Also Ignatieff never seems to have had a succinct ballot question where as Layton and Harper have been more clear of what they are asking voters. Layton, not unlike Harper, has also been precise in developing an identity that might be a consequence of experience. Ignatieff was defined by the Tories as the “just visiting” self-interested opportunist and has never been able to carve out another consistent caricature. Also to many centre-left voters, he seems too right wing.
Maybe Iggy will kick it up a notch in the final week of the campaign but if he doesn’t and Layton pulls seats off him goodbye Iggy and hello a brave new world where the centre-left either does some major self-reflection or continues about with its self-destructive habits. Personally I am all for the latter.
KINSELLA: The shocking polls that landed last Thursday—showing the NDP and the Liberals tied, or with the NDP ahead—left Grits like me more sad than anything else. There’s no satisfaction to be drawn from the possible outcomes, here. There’s no schadenfreude.
A year ago, very successful politicians (like Jean Chrétien, Ed Broadbent, and Roy Romanow) quietly suggested that this day would be coming— when the inability of progressives to come together, as a single united force, would (a) return a strengthened Stephen Harper to office and (b) plunge the progressive side of the spectrum into further uncertainty. Right now, Dippers may be happy—but, on May 2, it’ll be Tories who will be the happiest.
As Tim knows, I’ve become a broken record on this subject, but I’ll try again: Harper brought together the disparate choices on the Right—the Reformers, the Alliance, the Conservatives—to form a single, united conservative option. Shortly after he did that, he won the keys to 24 Sussex. History will show it to be his single greatest achievement.
The question that arises from that bit of history is a simple and straightforward question: if Harper could do that, and win, why can’t those of us on the other side of the spectrum do likewise? If we did, we’d beat him. That’s why, of course, he’s invested literally millions of dollars in delegitimizing “coalition”—he knows a single progressive option would decimate him.
Even sadder? Ignatieff has run a very good campaign. The professionals he brought in from the outside—Gordon Ashworth, Bob Richardson, Don Millar—had an immediate and very positive impact. But Gordon, Bob and Don couldn’t turn around 36 months of Con attack ads in 36 days. And they couldn’t erase Ignatieff’s disastrous rightward moves—on Afghanistan, on the oil sands, on health care, on too many other subjects.
A coalition, now? Forget it.
As of now, the NDP don’t want to get together with the Liberals—right about now, they want to replace the Liberals.