Yesterday, Darrell Bricker, co author, with John Ibbitson of “The Big Shift,” from which I draw many of my ideas about the Laurentian Consensus and the Laurentian Elites, and also the CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs, posted a series of tweets about how the Liberals won the 2015 election or, perhaps, how we, Conservatives, lost it. With only a tiny handful of edits, all to punctuation to add clarity, here they are:
- As over-analysis of Fed Election continues, what happened wasn’t complicated. Follow along … for an explanation …
- First part of campaign was over “does CPC deserve to be re-elected?”. This never busted past about 32%, what they got for final vote;
- 2nd part was over who should replace CPC. This was where all the meaningful campaign action was. At start was NDP, LPC passed them;
- Irony for CPC was that approval for their performance And agenda never dropped below 40%, more than enough to win;
- For the CPC, the issue was “who” and “how” more than “what” that did them in. The truth: they were never really in it from Day 1;
- Why did NDP drop? Their support in Quebec collapsed. Mulcair is right – the numbers really started to move after niqab became an issue;
- The niqab was NOT a major vote moving issue outside of Quebec. In Qb, it increased support for the CPC and BQ. LPC moved AFTER this;
- Like Mulroney’s coalition, NDP coalition of ROC progressives and Qb nationalists was NOT sustainable on an identity issue like niqab;
- Mulcair caught on horns of dilemma with niqab like Mulroney with Meech. Blew both coalitions apart. Advantage: LPC as better replacement;
- Other big problem for was they CPC lost what they needed most, advantage on economy. Incumbents don’t win in recessions;
- So far, what losers did wrong. What did LPC do right? First: they picked a leader that most clearly looked and sounded like change;
- Next, LPC took policy SERIOUSLY. They opened up to new ideas from the best and brightest minds from academia, think tanks, etc;
- LPC candidate recruitment brought in a new generation of players from across Cdn society. Cabinet clearly shows this;
- The LPC campaign understood that middle is no more. Campaigned to unite the progressive vote, which is exactly how and why they won;
- So ends my view of things. True, a lot happened in the campaign, but little of it mattered or moved votes beyond what I listed.
Now, I think a lot of this relates back to my contention, six weeks or so ago, and later, that we can win the next election by offering, inter alia, “fiscal prudence, social moderation and free trade.”
The fate of the economy is no longer in Conservative hands, and we, as responsible Canadians must not wish bad economic times on our fellow citizens, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plans, which hark back to the disastrous, unrestrained social spending of his father’s era, indicate that he is likely to face a very difficult economic situation in 2019: one that we can use to our advantage by offering common sense fiscal probity.
We need to find ways to split the progressive vote … ways to highlight how Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberals are the party of Big Money, the Big banks, Big business and Big labour, not the little guy. We can fight a good, fair battle with the NDP over just who is the party of Main Street and ordinary Canadians, but, first, we do need to remind Canadians that the Liberals are the BIG money people so that it is harder for them to “unite the left” against us.
We need to elect a leader who will, as Tony Clement advised, not force us to “write off” over 100 urban seats. Part of doing that is the “social moderation” theme upon which I continue to harp. We need to recapture that suburban, often “ethnic” vote, not try to slice, dice and divide it. We will need to stand for change in 2019 … change away from big spending on special interests, change from making foreign policy either “on the fly” or, cynically, to capture this or that slice of the voting demographic, and change to policies that are broadly acceptable to most Canadians.
I do not agree with Dr Bricker that “the middle is no more.” I still believe there is a middle and I think we, Conservatives, own a slice of it. The job ~ the job we need to do for Canadians ~ it seems to me, is to win back the share of that “mushy middle” of the electorate that Justin Trudeau convinced to:
- Stay home because, while they would not vote for the Liberals they were disenchanted with the CPC;
- Switch from CPC to Liberal; and
- Come out to vote for a change. (And let’s be clear: the data shows that he did do that.)
We need to do all three, but in reverse: we need to persuade those voters who came out, some for the first time ever, that Justin Trudeau did not provide the change they wanted, but we can; we need to convince “swing” voters to switch back to us, because we offer better policies; and we need to win back the conservative voters who sat on their hands.
There’s one other issue with which the Conservative Party of Canada needs to get to grips: working with the media. There is an interesting article, online, by Alicia Wanless of the SecDev Foundation that suggests that the media focuses too much on the “horse race” aspect of elections and too little on the issues and on the record. This focus on the results of the campaign rather than on the likely results of, say, a Conservative or a Liberal government’s actions, tends to encourage thew sort of strategic voting that worked against us in 2015. Not all media is, automatically, anti-Conservative. Some media outlets and some journalists are our ‘friends’ and will be fair and honest with and about us if we are equally fair and honest with them. I would cite David Akin of the Sun News service as just one example of a journalist who is willing to give us a fair shot and who writes for a chain that is, generally, conservative, in outlook. I’m not suggesting that we favour one media chain over others, but I am suggesting that we need to recognize that the media is not the enemy. It can, in fact, help us if we let it. We have to encourage journalists to look at programmes and results, not at popularity polls.
Finally, I expect the Liberano$ to help us. Justin Trudeau may ‘lead’ the Liberal Party but I doubt he can (or has even tried to) do much about the deeply ingrained culture of entitlement which has, again and again, corrupted Liberal politicians and hangers on.
We, Conservatives, can do all that needs to be done, and we can win the next election .