Sunday, June 14, 2009

Leadership woes

As we wait for Michael Ignatieff to determine if the government's latest economic statement is socialist enough for his liking, we should take the time to ponder the current political strategic climate.

For instance, it seems both the Liberals and the Conservatives have the same glaring weakness: leadership.

Take the Liberals first. There's no doubt Ignatieff is an upgrade over Stephane Dion, but that's not saying much. Ignatieff is intelligent, but in an academic way, a kind of intelligence that doesn't take you very far in the blood sport known as politics.

It's not the kind of intelligence, for instance, possessed by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Chretien was no Rhodes Scholar, but he had a street fighter's cunning, an ability to sense an opponent's weakness and to exploit it without mercy.

Ignatieff seems to lack that killer instinct.

What's more Ignatieff is still a political novice, a rookie who has yet to have his leadership abilities tested in a national election campaign. Indeed, recall he actually lost to Dion in the 2006 Liberal leadership race.

Bottom line is, I could see this guy committing some major gaffes in a campaign pressure cooker environment.

But what about the Tories?

Well their leader, Stephen Harper, is smart and battle-tested. And indeed the Tories have always made Harper the centerpiece of their campaign messaging.

Simply put the Tory strategy was to say, "Hey vote for us because our leader Stephen Harper is a nice guy, who likes to play the piano and drink Tim Horton's coffee." This was the point of those infamous sweater vest TV ads.

I always though that was a bad strategy and now I know it's a bad strategy. A recent Nanos survey says that among Canadians, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is "twice as likely to be identified as a weakness than as a strength."

That's devastating news for the Conservatives.

It means selling Harper to Canadians in the next election will be about as smart as selling Canadian flags to Bloc Quebecois supporters. The Conservatives will need a completely new strategy and they will need one quick.

But what can the Tories say? They can't brag about their fiscal management, not with a $50 billion deficit and thanks to Raitt-gate even their competence is coming into question.

Anyway, I suspect both sides will ultimately employ the strategy political parties always use when they have leadership problems which is to go negative.

Boiled down the Liberal and Tory message will be: Maybe you don't like our guy, but the other guy is even worse.


Anonymous said...

It has been awhile since you have had one of those annoying "media alerts" Gerry.

What's wrong? Doesn't anybody care what you think anymore?

Gerry Nicholls said...


I know you love me; but don't worry the best is yet to come.

wilson said...

The next election will be
'Tory majority or Coalition majority,
which option will have the best stimulus exit strategy to get Canada out of deficit'.

Anonymous said...

Silly questions on silly polls can be skewered to assume they mean silly things.
Twice as many think what again?
And spell assume.
Why not one question:
Conservative of Liberal?
oh wait...
we get to answer that in the election.

Anonymous said...

I don't who you are Gerry, and why you are listed on Blogging Tories, but you always come off sounding like a bitter person with some kind of bone to pick.

You're not blogging, your just plain boring.

(Note to self: don't click on the Nichols link ... nothing there.)