Vaughn Palmer on the Manitoba NDP

Right story, wrong conclusion

Vaughn Palmer hung around the BC NDP Convention long enough Friday to listen to Michael Balagus (chief of staff to the Premier of Manitoba), tell the tale of the 2011 Manitoba election. 

It is an interesting tale for opposition and government alike.  It goes like this:

Third term government finds itself down in the polls with a new leader a year out.  Despite the new leader, the change thing isn’t working for them.  They move on to a new strategy, defining ‘change’ as ‘risk’ in the electorate’s mind – or rather the slice of the electorate they need to convert a loss into a victory.

With a combination of targeting and attack ads the government succeeds in defining the Tories as a risk to Manitoba’s good fortune during a time of economic difficulty.  A ten-point deficit in the polls turns into a win as the third party vote collapses and the Tories under-perform.

Sounds like the rabbit the Campbell/Clark Liberals want to pull out of the hat somewhere between now and the spring of 2013.

And that’s the conclusion Palmer more or less draws when he remarks that “one could readily look over to the observers’ section of the convention hall and see a senior staffer for the BC Liberals, smiling to himself and taking down everything Balagus said.”

Except, it’s not going to happen because the similarity between the two electoral situations is an illusion.

The Manitoba government that won earlier this fall was fairly long in the tooth.  That much is true.  And Canadians generally prefer to trade horses by the fourth term.

But that’s where the similarity ends.  On every other point that matters the Manitoba scenario was completely opposite BCs.

First and foremost, the Manitoba government had credibility.  They hadn’t lied about a major tax, they didn’t have cabinet minister after cabinet minister under investigation, they didn’t shut down criminal trials with huge payments to get bad deals.  They didn’t ask civil servants to break the law and then fire them when they refused.

Credibility is important when you want to point out the opposition’s downside.  Voters need to believe what you say.  That’s why it worked to the NDP’s advantage that Manitoba voters didn’t view their government as a pack of liars – as BC voters view the BC government.

The Manitoba government also had priorities that matched those of the voters.  Health, education, economic development and crown corporation investments:  these were the government’s priorities and by and large they were voter priorities.

The Clark government has simply continued the Campbell government’s record of trashing public priorities while catering to rich and powerful friends and insiders.   Instead of the change voters wanted, the Clark government is demonstrating little difference – except in sloganeering – from its predecessor.

Finally, the electoral map was moving in a different direction in Manitoba than it is in BC.  The Manitoba Liberal Party was noticeably weak and heading down.  In BC the ethical and policy weaknesses of the BC Liberal party are driving former supporters to a growing Conservative party.

The contrast between Manitoba’s incumbent government and ours could hardly be greater.  And the public response to the BC Liberals’ tacky personal attacks on the nascent Conservative party seem to me indicative of how seriously BC voters are taking the Clark government.

The BC Conservative Party went up in the polls.

Palmer is right in one aspect.  We have seen this movie before.  But it’s not the recently re-elected Manitoba government the BC Liberals remind me of.

No, it’s the final year of the Socred government that comes to mind when I think of this government’s record, its credibility and its potential for success in the coming, highly negative, election campaign.

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10 Responses to Vaughn Palmer on the Manitoba NDP

  1. Grant G says:

    Correct Mr. Reid…I posted comments to Vaughn`s column saying exactly that..They were deleted!

    BC Rail..John Les..Kash Heed..Jane Thorthwaite..BC Rail corruption..Attacking the disabled…lying about debt and deficits, scooping $billions from ICBC..Leading Canada in child poverty for the last decade, the HST fraud..I could go on for hours, including that Crusty Clark has no mandate period…

    Palmer is comparing apples to stinking rotting tomatoes!(BC Liberals)

    But something happened last week Mr. Reid…Perhaps you are partly responsible, you exposed another poll with the BC Liberals trailing by 20 points..

    Michael Smyth went on attack..Palmer…Check out the editorial in the province on paying back the HST bribe(bottom of front page)…The unattributed opinion wants and demands BC pay back all of the $1.6 billion dollar bribe..

    Bill Good is going ape-shit over the NDP wanting more female representation…He groaned about it on Monday..He groaned about it again today and tomorrow he`s putting Alise Mills and two other females on air to rip the NDP some more over the policy..

    Yet Harper yanking Canada out of Kyoto got zero air play on CKNW..Yet CNN had that item as their lead for a day on their ticker..

    The stooges got their marching orders….The polls are so bad that even the bought media realized that if they don`t turn the Liberal train wreck around the BC Liberals would be reduced to third party status..

    Great post Ian……Vaughn Palmer and Smyth should be ashamed of their last columns!

    Cheers

  2. RossK says:

    But Ian, wasn’t it just a few days ago that the The Dean himself was telling us about the new strate(r)gy of using the former ‘Horse 1A’ to pull the Campbell-Clark government out of the ditch?

    And wasn’t, at least according to Mr. Tieleman, the former rider of the former Horse 1A also present at the Dipper’s convention last weekend?

    It sure is hard for the average citizen who has been paying attention not to conclude that there are many things that The Dean can’t (or won’t?) tell us about what is really going on and/or whose bets are really being hedged?

    .

  3. Grant G says:

    The first story is pathetic…Michael Smyth`s article is equally sad…When did parties lay out their election platforms numbers and all 18 months before an election.

    Their writing`s reek of desperateness.

    The BC Liberals are screwed….They can`t boast about a booming economy before the next election and promise goodies while bashing the NDP for spending promises..And if they cry poverty and despair their fiscal incompetence will be front and center.

    http://www.theprovince.com/news/Editorial+money+must+grow+trees/5850854/story.html

    http://www.theprovince.com/business/Pressure+builds+from+playing+safe/5843437/story.html

  4. Burgess says:

    Let’s put it this way don’t read, listen to and respond to anything these guys say and print. Their scribbles are drivel, plain and simple, paid infomercials for the present resident in charge of the (lying) Liberals across the Strait. Their corporate masters keep a short leash on these guys. Step out of line?????? Away go speaking gigs, golfing dates, special invitations, and you know the rest of the list. Bought and paid for poodles all of them.

    PS Don’t forget Good and Baldrey (along with a host of other media perps)

  5. The Riddler says:

    Having Brian Gough comment on any of your posts is a kin to allowing an elephant with the flu room for a huge crap in the middle of your beautiful living room. Your blog deserves much better than that. Every time he declares his support for the NDP we lose another 500 supporters.

  6. Ian says:

    Mr. Riddler,
    It’s not my job to prevent people from commenting. My policy is to delete comments that contain inappropriate personal attacks. It’s the content I care about, not the person.

    And just to be clear, I think Mr. Palmer has written some smart and perceptive columns of late. But I think this one is superficial and therefor wrong-headed

  7. Norm Farrell says:

    You have of course identified the frustration with Palmer. He would be easy to ignore if he lacked skills of analysis and communication, along with detailed knowledge of what goes on inside government today and what went on throughout recent political history. He is an actual expert (not a pretend one like the CKNW/Global financial expert who appeared on the 6pm TV news as I write this.) He is capable of highly intelligent commentary but simply doesn’t deliver it regularly. He enables others to question whether or not his speech making and consulting enterprises interfere with being an independent journalist. (Frankly, a too common fault among leading journalists who may demand higher ethical standards from others than from themselves.)

    Palmer dumps out the occasional piece that is little more than a précis of backgrounders delivered to him by people interested in promoting a point of view, typically in matter of business, not philosophy. An example: immediately after IPP lobbyists began a new strategy of misidentifying private power production as primarily an aboriginal initiative, Palmer was on side. An example:

  8. Norm Farrell says:

    The audio link I intended to accompany the earlier comment didn’t work so I posted it here at my site:

    Taking issue with journalism in the MSM

    .

  9. Scotty on Denman says:

    The BC Liberals are so thoroughly disgraced they’ll have to go super-negative to make the “change is bad” card work. Then again, they’ve never done anything on the square, have they? Makes me wonder what Christy’s gonna do. After all, her whole leadership bid was predicated on the fact that she wasn’t part of the HST fiasco (despite the fact that she is implicated in the BC Rail corruption trial, the thing that really started the BC Liberal slide.) In effect she played the “change is good” card on her own party, implicitly indicting the whole Campbell caucus; it was good enough for the majority of party members but the Campbellites have been a hostile faction ever since. No doubt the princess warrior fancied riding a wave of her own personal popularity that would redeem the government and return them to power with herself at the helm. However, the Campbellites only allowed her to get away with raising minimum wages, and quashed, one by one, the other measures she thought would be popular in preparation for an early election; they threw a pail of water on that notion , too, finally relegating her to the role of boosting sloganeer offering only goofy policies like courtroom cameras and ruminations on online voting. All in all the BC Liberals look the same as they ever did, making it impossible for Christy to play the change card, good or bad. Such is the disrespect the Campbellites have for her. How long will Christy accept being a mere passenger on a ship captained by a hostile and uncooperative faction, knowing they will bail at the last moment with all the loot, leaving her without sail or rudder?

    She still holds the snap election card, though. The Campbellites aren’t down with that, but hey, what have they ever done for her?

  10. Maharg says:

    Mr. Gough is honest about the topics he raises and passionate as to how he expresses them. Sometimes his anger can be a touch volatile. As for rudeness, The Riddler, has proven his vulgarity far exceeds that of Mr. Gough.

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