Thursday, June 16, 2005

Adding my voice to the chorus

Babble on.

The CPC already has much of the so-con vote, but doesn't enjoy a similar command of the economic conservative vote. So what's their strategy to make inroads in this critical demographic?

The Opposition Conservatives are willing to support the NDP's $4.6-billion budget amendment, but only if the Liberals agree to delay same-sex marriage legislation.

On Wednesday, Conservative House Leader Jay Hill said the trade-off has been subject of discussions between his party and the minority government.

"There's been some negotiations," Hill said. "If we were to get a delay of C-38 (the marriage bill) until the fall and perhaps some other concession, we'd be happy."

In exchange, Hill indicated the Conservatives would be willing to quiet their criticism of the budget legislation. That would be a dramatic about-turn from the 90 speakers the Opposition is reportedly prepared to have filibuster in an effort to stall the budget vote.

You can't see it, but I'm shaking my frickin' head here. A more stupid move they could not have made. Here's a sampling of the majority opinion from across the political spectrum: Declan, Skippy, Andrew, Paul, and Aaron. I especially like the title of Aaron's piece: "Oh Look - We're For Sale, Too." My feelings exactly.

My favourite post so far, however, comes from The Flea:

What a difference a poll makes. May 19 of last month, that would be less than thirty days ago, Conservative leader Stephen Harper is reported to have called the NDP budget grab a "deal with the devil". Now it turns out that principled Conservative opposition to wasteful government spending is just as moral, just as imperative and just as consistent as last month's moral imperative to topple the government, a moral imperative that vanished along with a hiccup of support in the polls. Now it turns out that the C$4.6b so shamefully offered to the socialists as a bribe to prop up a tottering Liberal minority will be just fine so long as the Liberals forestall same-sex marriage. That "deal with the devil" turns out to be a bargain for Conservative party leadership provided it prevents gay people in Alberta from getting married for a few more months.

Those Conservatives gamely trying to defend the gambit as "worth a try" or "something for nothing" need to pull their heads out of the sand. This was nothing but a loser from minute one. I mean, play it out for heaven's sake. If the Liberals had accepted the offer, they look like they're in firm control of the House, and they gain a tool with which to bash the CPC at a later date ("They don't like Liberal fiscal management? Hell, they voted for it! And just so they could keep their homophobic bigotry alive a few months longer!"). By refusing, which they have, the Liberals come out looking even better: they're the national defenders of minority rights, the Conservatives ship is being steered by the so-cons who are willing to trade billions of dollars away for a short delay in passing the SSM bill (way to endear the fiscally responsible, socially liberal voter), and - by the way - the NDP budget passes anyhow.

The only option you should ever give an opponent is a fork: the choice between bad and worse. This was just about the opposite of that time-honoured tactic. The choice they offered the Liberals was between winning and winning BIG.

I'll say it again: the Conservative Party of Canada needs new strategists. The current bunch would manage to get swindled at a church bazaar.

Babble off.


At 2:40 p.m., Blogger MB said...

Wow. This is the first I have heard of this.

What is going on at CPC HQ?

Are they stupid?

At 4:42 p.m., Blogger Walsh Writes said...

There is a LOT more to being a REAL conservative than just being a fiscal conservative... you also have to be a social conservative.

Unfortunately, we have to wheel and deal to ensure that the social conservative can survive.

If you have a problem with this then attack the liberals, they are the real problem.

At 7:17 p.m., Blogger The Hack said...

I discussed this at lenght in a couple of other threads and brought it all together in this thread:

Long story short: You're wrong on this one Damian. I've bashed and wailed away at Harper's inner strategist circle as much as anyone else, but on this one, they are playing their cards correctly.

At 7:18 p.m., Blogger The Hack said...

I should add because you're post suggests otherwise. We're not voting in favour of the NDP budget. We're just not going to "talk it out" and debate it so long that Parliment must be extended into the summer.

We're still voting against C-48.

At 9:28 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Sorry I don't meet your requirements for being a REAL conservative, Walsh. What, you can't hear me? Try taking your head out of your ass. When you do, try clicking over to some other blog where everyone thinks just like you, and don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

Hack, I think you're dead wrong on this. You're talking about getting your supporters to vote. I'm talking about getting more supporters. I think my focus has a bigger upside.

Beyond that though, my main point was that whatever they were trying to do, the CPC spin-meisters didn't war-game this idea out to the worst possible conclusion, and as a result, they've been burned. One way or another, the CPC has once again managed to let the Liberals and the liberal media make them look like a bunch of sell-out homophobes whose primary purpose in politics is to prevent Lance and Gunter from putting rings on each others' fingers in a civil ceremony, and worse, that they're perfectly willing to throw fiscal principles out the window to do it.

And I have to tell you, that's not what I had in mind when I volunteered my time, money, and energy to the Conservative Party. Permanent stalling at 30% or lower in the polls isn't good enough. This won't win an election.

At 12:29 a.m., Blogger Jason Monteith said...

Damian, how would you react given Monte Solberg's post (linked to at small dead animals and Canadianna's Place), where he says the media got the story completely wrong? That the CPC is not supporting the NDP budget deal, or bargaining on that to delay the SSM bill?

Seems a lot of people have jumped to conclusions on this, and may now have egg on their faces as a result.

Nothing personal... I'm just curious as to what your reaction would be.

At 7:34 a.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Jason, his post makes my point. No matter what they were trying to do, the CPC strategists allowed their party to come out of yet another tactical move looking like doofuses. My point is that they somehow managed to lose yet another round to the Liberals and their media sycophants.

Don't deal unless you can win the deal. And manage the angles on whatever you're saying very carefully, since you know it's going to get spun against you if there's even the slightest opportunity.

At 10:39 a.m., Blogger Steve said...

The Conservatives are missing a big opportunity by not sticking to their principles on economic issues. This is probably their biggest strategic failure.

Although the SoCons may weigh them down, they can be less of an issue if the CPC can differentiate itself on economic issues.

By acting like Liberals, people will vote for the real thing. By pretending your economic policies are Liberal, but not believing it, opens you up to accusations of hidden agendas.

The winning strategy is to support free markets and limited, but honest and effective, government. I believe that is what the CPC stands for and there is no need to be ashamed of it.

It is a viable and attractive option for many Canadians who recognize the limited value we get for the taxes we pay.

At 5:09 p.m., Blogger The Hack said...


I'm not against growing the party, I'm just saying SSM isn't the issue to do that with. (Unless the anti-SSM grows a few small pockets in traditionally-Liberal voting ethnic blocks.)

That's where we need some key policies that will appeal to non-Conservatives to go with the anti-SSM stance.

But also from a practical politics point-of-view. If the corruption scandal has taught us anything, it's that there's a grossly negative attitude towards all politics and all politicians, and that attitude isn't about to change in the next couple of years (read: before the next election).

So fault my strategy if you want, but I would argue that keeping our base supporters (because let's face it, not all anti-SSM folks are the stereotypical SoCon) happy and motivated to go out and vote on the issue.

Not the least to mention that opposition to SSM is much higher in older voters, and which age bracket votes more regularly?

At 5:35 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

I'm not against growing the party, I'm just saying SSM isn't the issue to do that with.

I'd agree. Because opposition to SSM won't grow the party. And once the generations that oppose it most strenuously have died off, there will be a whole new set of voters who have started collecting paycheques, paying taxes, starting families, buying homes, etc. (y'know, the sort of person who generally starts voting Conservative at some point) who will think of the CPC as a party of homophobes.

That's where we need some key policies that will appeal to non-Conservatives to go with the anti-SSM stance.

Like fiscal responsibility? Which, by all accounts, now trails, in relative terms, a distant second place to keeping the gays and lesbians from getting hitched for another couple of months?

So fault my strategy if you want, but I would argue that keeping our base supporters (because let's face it, not all anti-SSM folks are the stereotypical SoCon) happy and motivated to go out and vote on the issue.

They would have voted on the issue in any case, as long as the CPC kept the rhetoric up, without talking about some ill-advised deal that didn't even work.

And Hack, I'm going to say it again, because this wasn't intended to be about SSM: the problem isn't the issue, it's the strategy. This blew up on them because they didn't play all the possible moves out before they talked with the Liberals. The latest indication is that this whole thing was a trap set by Murphy et al. That my party was stupid enough to walk headlong into that trap doesn't speak well of those making the decisions in the OLO, or at CPC HQ.

At 4:52 p.m., Blogger The Hack said...

I agree. This isn't about the issue, it's about the strategy.

And the strategy was sound. Six to eight months from now, we'll see why.


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