Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Liberals are to blame for the current Liberal Party troubles

Warning: This a rant against my fellow Liberals who I have found more and more to be undermining the very Party they all claim to support.

If you are not prepared to look inward to see your own culpability in the creation of the current troubles of the Liberal Party leave now. If you are then read on.

The current media narrative is Stephane Dion is a weak leader. This narrative was started by Stephen Harper and it was picked up by the media. The interesting thing about media narratives is they quickly change when they are no longer considered credible. So if in the last few months the only people saying Mr. Dion was a weak leader were the media and the Conservatives the narrative would have begun changing months ago. Unfortunately many Liberals in the blogsphere and those who have media contacts gave credibility to the narrative by agreeing with it. Canadians are smart enough to realize that Stephen Harper is not going to find anything nice to say about Stephane Dion. They are also smart enough to know when they are being fed a bill of goods by the media. However, when they hear Liberals actually buying that bill of goods they begin to believe it. So, if Liberals would have put the kibosh on this narrative months ago things would probably be better for the Liberals. Of course that did not happen. Instead Liberals have given the narrative legs and a life of its own by their own actions.

And keep in mind I am not talking about the "Liberal Party". I am talking about its supporters. The Party has been doing what it can with the limited resources at its disposal to move the Party forward but they are being held back by many in the Liberal blogsphere and by those Liberals who have media contacts.

I can only imagine what the last two months would have been like if Liberals would have rallied around the Party and Mr. Dion after the first installment of the Conservative "Not a leader" advertizement and in the aftermath of the Outrement loss. They would certainly be in a much stronger position and they might just have triggered an election over the economic statement. But you have to forgive a leader of a political party for not doing so when his own supporters are undermining him at every turn. It is bad enough to face your political opponents but when your own supporters attack you as well then you are in a truly unwinnable situation.

Mr. Dion certainly has to take some of the responsibility for the current troubles of the Party but the lion's share of the blame lies with his erstwhile supporters and all of this is beside the point in the final analysis.

That is in the past. Now Liberals must prepare themselves to battle Stephen Harper and the Conservatives, probably in about 4-6 months. So Liberals had better begin focusing on them instead of Mr. Dion if you want to see the Liberal Party regain the government.


Blogger The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry, but I don't buy your claim that, but for bad Liberals, Stephane Dion would be riding high right now. Ottawa can give people a unique perception on events. As a former Ottawan who relocated to BC almost 30-years ago I can tell you that Dion's problem with voters out here has nothing to do with critics from within our party and everything to do with Stephane Dion's inability to inspire anyone about anything. He has no traction out here, we can't even hear his wheels spinning. You need to get over your conspiracy theories and figure out what qualties a leader needs to win a general election and just how well Dion is equipped on that score.

November 06, 2007 6:36 PM  
Blogger Koby said...

I am also from BC and must concur.

Dion has proved to be nothing short of disaster thus far. He lacks charisma, struggles with English and maintaining party discipline, and he has proved to be tactical neophyte prone to gaffes (e.g., musing about raising the GST). However, Dion is not the Liberals biggest problem. That would be the party’s complete unwillingness to roll out new policy. The Liberals have been in a state of policy paralysis ever since they lost the last election. Until the Liberals start rolling out some new policies the media will continue to write about Dion’s many short comings, the Liberals lack of unity, the party will remain stuck in the polls and the fund raising numbers will remain poor. What is more, the longer the longer media focuses on Dion’s problems the more things will snowball.

November 06, 2007 6:53 PM  
Blogger s.b. said...

I guess you aren't from Quebec if you think the Party is supporting Dion and doing what they can. The Party aka "perm" is the problem in many places not Liberal supporters at all.

November 06, 2007 6:58 PM  
Blogger ottlib said...

Mound of sound: Is the fact he is not inspiring because of him or because it is more interesting to report yet more Liberal disunity? Is he the cause of that disunity?

If Liberals would have denied the opportunity for everybody to talk about that disunity in the last few months do you not think people might have begun to talk more about what Mr. Dion had to say?

Incidentally, this is not an Ottawa/BC thing. This is simply a matter of Liberal supporters ceasing to believe what they are being fed by the Conservatives and the media.

Koby: Mr. Dion has been rolling out policy and he has been making proposals? Did you notice? Of course not because you have proven my point. You are more focused on Mr. Dion's perceived shortcomings instead of what he has to say. You have bought the narrative completely.

Mr. Dion wrote an alternate Throne Speech in The Toronto Star where he outlines what a Liberal government would do. Did you read it?

sb: I said the Party is doing what it can to move forward but it is being held back by many of its own supporters.

No doubt the Party leadership and the Party apparatus have to accept some of the responsibility for the current situation but they are not alone. Alot of Liberal supporters should be looking at themselves and their role in creating the current political climate.

November 06, 2007 8:07 PM  
Blogger The Mound of Sound said...

I think Dion suffers, however unfairly, from a lack of charisma. He's bright and well intentioned but he simply isn't connecting with western voters. Part of it is media bias, no question, but that's something a leader has to overcome if he's to lead. Maybe Stephane Dion simply can't inspire people, he just doesn't capture anyone's imagination or put fire in their bellies. He's up against the schoolyard bully. Right now the only person holding Harper and the CPCs back is Harper. We need more.

November 06, 2007 9:05 PM  
Blogger Koby said...

What do you have in mind Ottlib? The Liberals plan for carbon budget is hardly a cornucopia of policy and “it is someone else turn” is not exactly a compressive rational for the Liberal’s Kandahar plan. Most of what Dion mentioned is fluff, e.g., fairer greener Canada, or left over from Martin’s time. That said, it is not just the lack of policies that is the problem. The Liberals need to embrace controversy. The again have to embrace universality. They have to draw attention to themselves. Instead they run from it. This is party that is afraid of its own shadow. They would father fade away then introduce policy that might offend.

As for my supposed ability to effect how the media cover the issues, give your head a shake. Other than a December 2006 spike the Liberal numbers have remained flat and the same goes for their funding numbers. Things are not going to be hunky dory all of sudden because a few bloggers stop going on about how the emperor has no clothes.

November 06, 2007 10:11 PM  
Blogger ottlib said...

"Things are not going to be hunky dory all of sudden because a few bloggers stop going on about how the emperor has no clothes."

I guess we will never know because it was very early into 2007 when the Conservatives launched their "Dion is not a leader" campaign and the current media narrative took off.

Koby, has any of the policy proposals received any attention in the MSM? Of course not. It is difficult enough for the Official Opposition to get any positive attention in between elections. It is nearly impossible when the party he leads keeps giving the media constant stories about disunity within the ranks.

In short, in the current climate Stephane Dion could roll out a detailed policy proposal a day for the next month but he would be ignored because there will still be a bunch of his erstwhile supporters talking about how his language skills or lack of charisma takes away from his message. That is what the MSM would focus on.

When Liberal supporters stop giving the media grist to feed that narrative the Liberal Party will be able to get the media to better focus on what the Party is all about and the direction it wants to take the country.

Unfortunately I do not see that happening any time soon. Liberals seem to be locked into this self-destructive behaviour and I guess it is going to take an election defeat before they finally get their heads out of their asses.

November 06, 2007 10:44 PM  
Blogger Koby said...

>>>> Koby, has any of the policy proposals received any attention in the MSM? Of course not. It is difficult enough for the Official Opposition to get any positive attention in between elections.

The Reform party seemed mighty good at it. There is something to be said about have a clear vision, not being risk adverse and not being afraid of controversy. Look, publicity can be manufactured and it can be manufactured quite easily given the right issue. Right now the Liberals approach policy as if they were ahead in the polls and in government. They are playing it safe when what they need to be doing is trying to draw attention to themselves. Given the type of leader they have the best way of doing this is by introducing bold new policy. If the Liberals were to propose legalizing marijuana, for example, or promise to mandate that Canadians receive 4 weeks vacation the way everyone else in the Western world does they would receive a ton of publicity. In fact the former would receive more international press than any Liberal policy since god knows when.

>>>>> It is nearly impossible when the party he leads keeps giving the media constant stories about disunity within the ranks.

The questions about disunity are consequence and not a cause. First came the poor showing and only latter talk of rebellion. It should also be noted that all this disunity talk is not greatly impacting the Liberals poll numbers. The media may like to talk about it, but it does not interest the public all that much. Give the media something substantive and juicy to talk about and they will move on.

November 06, 2007 11:33 PM  

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