Friday, March 25, 2011

1984 And Now Election 2011

Warren Kinsella who used to be a Liberal Party Insider, and of course therefore a HACK, now works for the right wing conservative mouthpiece; Quebecor/SUN media, so today he declares that the election campaign is over before it begins.

Nineteen Eighty-Four wasn’t just the title of a good book by George Orwell.

It’s also a useful reminder of what may be about to happen to the Liberals and NDP in the coming election campaign.

You remember: Sept. 4, 1984, and Brian Mulroney sweeps to a massive parliamentary majority. The once-great Liberal Party — the Natural Governing Party, no less — is reduced to a paltry 40 seats.

Conservatives, up to 43%. Liberals, down to 24%. NDP, unchanged at 16%.

And if you just look at voting preferences of those absolutely certain to trek to polling stations, according to Ipsos, the Cons go up to 45%, and the Grits slide to 23%.

To put it in context, that gap is perilously close (or identical) to the 22 points that separated Mulroney and John Turner in 1984’s Gritterdammerung. Result: Tories, 211 seats, NDP 30 seats, and Grits the aforementioned 40.

So, is Michael Ignatieff this generation’s John Turner?

Of course he is but the political differences of the times are also significant. And Kinsella's prognosis is also questionable.

First in 1984 there was a great debate, a big issue that the election was to be fought over; nothing less than Free Trade.

There is no big issue in this election.

Second there was the appointment of Liberal hacks to the Senate just before the election call, which gave Mulroney his chance to defeat Turner in the debates when he challenged him to simply not appoint the Liberal hacks to the senate. "You had a choice Mr. Turner'. It was the zinger in the Leaders debate.

The NDP, the CLC trade unions and the Left had made Free Trade the issue for the election and had for two years prior. The Liberals seeing an issue which carried votes, opportunistically decided to become Anti-Free Trade hoping to get votes from the Left as the only Natural Governing Party.

In the Leaders Debate the NDP Leader Ed Broadbent carried the day as statesman, while Mulroney and Turner went at it hammer and tong. It was Mulrony who got in the election zinger.

What Kinsella fails to aknowledge is that in 1984 the NDP got enough seats, in fact increased their seats to 30, that had there been a minority government it would behoove them to ask for their support.

And even more importantly in 1984 there was NO Bloc Quebecois. In fact the BQ would originate out of the Mulroney Conservative government, a fact the current Conservative Government would like you to forget, even as they carry on in Mulroney's footsteps when it comes to gaining support in Quebec.

The Conservatives and Liberals want to have two party politics, ala the Republicans and Democrats in the US ,Conservatives and Labour in the UK.

Unlike the 1984 election this election is not about three parties but four parties. Three in English Canada and an additional Quebec based Party. By having four parties, with Quebec solidaly BQ,

The Harper Conservatives have decided to focus on the rural township votes, as they have in Western Canada, that is where their base is.

The urban cities is where the fight goes three ways, if not four. The NDP is currently more popular in Quebec than the Liberals, a historic first.

This election is about Leadership, and that is the only thing it has in common with 1984, Turner was weak, Mulroney was brash and Broadbent was conciliatory.

With the BQ there will be no repeat of 1984, we will once again have a minority government. But will it be Conservative or Liberal? The NDP is then the best place to park your vote, since Layton shows he is PM material, even more that his opponents, and if Harper has any chance so does Layton, even if it is as Leader of the Opposition.

The Liberals under Ignatieff, as they were under Turner, are toast and on that Kinsella and I agree.

Michael Ignatieff was once hailed in Liberal circles as the second coming of Pierre Trudeau. Now his challenge is to shake off the perception he's an outsider interested only in adding another ornament to his well-adorned resume.


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