Saturday, October 03, 2009

Liberals are sticking to their strategy

With the benefits of hindsight we are beginning to see that the Liberals have finally developed a medium to long-term strategy for winning the next election. Something we have not seen since before Jean Chretien won his third majority.

We have seen only the beginning and in broad strokes it looks something like this. Stop supporting the government and begin to lay the groundwork for having an election on competing values.

It began in June when they allowed the government to survive despite not receiving what many believed they could have received at that time. While others were thinking short-term political advantage it was apparent to some that the Liberals were playing the long game.

The summer was spent developing and fine tuning the strategy for the Fall and the Winter.

We saw the beginning of its implementation in Sudbury. A necessary first step was to extricate the Liberal caucus from Stephen Harper's confidence games and they did that beautifully, side swiping the NDP in the process. Of course that set off a storm that has lead to a predictable fall in their polling numbers. (Note I do not say support. Polls measure peoples opinions at a given time and we all now peoples opinions change all of the time.)

Despite this the Liberals did not flinch. They continued to implement their strategy.

The next step was for Mr. Ignatieff to outline the broad strokes of how the Liberals would handle the economy. It received as much play as you would expect for a speech by the Leader of the Opposition but it was generally well received.

Then we saw the Liberals begin to go after the Conservative record and set up their attack lines for the next election. Gerard Kennedy's report on stimulus spending is gold. It received very little attention at this time but it was never meant to. Again, the Liberals are thinking medium to long-term.

The final step of this part of the strategy that they have shown us is Mr. Ignatieff's speech for the non-confidence motion. It establishes an election theme. Something the Liberals have not had since I do not know when. As I stated in a previous post it is a winning theme. It is the one that has made the Liberal Party the Natural Governing Party in this country. If you do not believe me on this last point then I would point out the National Post is stating there is not much difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives. That is something I would expect to hear from Jack Layton. The Liberals should feel very good. When the house newsletter of the Conservative Party begins to spout decades old NDP talking points, when criticising your party, you are probably on to something.

I do not know the next steps in this strategy. I imagine we will see the Liberals continue to push their election theme over the next few months and I would expect to see more reports like that produced by Mr. Kennedy. As for other parts of that strategy we will just have to wait and see.

A month of bad press and dropping poll numbers did not deter the Liberals from pursuing their chosen strategy. That shows strength, resolve and courage. That should make Liberals happy and it should be a cause for concern to its opponents.

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