Monday, March 06, 2006

You, Mr. Emerson, are no Winston Churchill

Babble on.

From The Galloping Beaver, we learn that Conservative MP Betty Hinton is comparing David Emerson and Winston Churchill since both happened to switch parties during their parliamentary careers (see Tory mutes don't surprise NDP MP).

"Churchill, for example, crossed the floor twice. Nobody says anything terrible about Churchill," she said, adding later that "it's politics, and people do change parties."

This isn't the first time I've seen Churchill's name brought up in connection with the Emerson fiasco, although it disappoints me to no end to see such hogwash emanating from a Conservative Member of Parliament.

Let's be clear here: David Emerson said he'd still be a Liberal if Paul Martin was running the show, and if the Liberals still formed the government. He's admitted that his defection was not on grounds of principle.

Compare that with Churchill's party switches - there were two - where principle arguably trumped common political sense.

Churchill marched from government benches to opposition over trade protectionism in 1904. Oh, hurt feelings certainly entered into the equation, but the rift between Churchill and his fellow Conservatives stemmed from his opposition to his party's tariff regime.

Understanding his switch back to the Conservatives twenty years later requires a bit more background. Churchill watched the decline of the Liberal party and the rise of Labour, and worried openly about the influence of socialism in the country. Realizing the Liberal party was a spent force, he ran as an "Independent Anti-Socialist", losing one election before winning the next as an independent "Constitutionalist" with Conservative backing. He was only then invited to join the Conservative government.

Let's leave aside the fact that the party system in the UK at that time was nowhere near as rigid as it is in today's Canada. The bottom line is that in neither case did Churchill put his own selfish interests - and believe me, he had them in spades - ahead of the wishes of his constituents as Emerson did.

Those who would justify Harper's and Emerson's mistake would do well to leave Churchill well out of it.

Babble off.


At 2:18 p.m., Blogger Dark Blue Tory said...

Are we talking about the same Winston Churchill?

Look, I understand that he should be a glorified leader. But why don't you ask some Canadian vets their thoughts on Mr. Churchill, and Montgomery while you're at it.

It's only fair if you tell the full story of Mr. Churchill, like how he was near ruined for his poor performance during WWI. His pooh did stink too.

I understand what you're saying, and I agree to an extent, but using Churchill as an example puts some perspective on things.

At 2:29 p.m., Blogger Babbling Brooks said...

Uh, DBT, what's your point?

Churchill was undoubtedly a flawed human being, which I noted briefly with the whole 'hurt feelings' and 'ambition in spades' comments.

That doesn't change the fact that his party switches were prompted by issues deeper than 'what's best for me'?

At 5:22 p.m., Blogger Christoph Dollis said...

Ugh, I can't believe you're still so wrong about this issue.

At 8:04 p.m., Blogger jaycurrie said...

Churchill certainly crossed the floor on principle. He was also vilified for doing so. Something our Conservative MP also managed to miss.

Emerson will take heat for a while longer and then it will be done. And Harper will have a much stronger Cabinet as a result.

Time to move on.

At 1:33 a.m., Blogger Steve said...

In my personal opinion, Winston Churchill is simply a politician who happened upon a time with a lot of drama. Any other politician in his place would've been about the same.

If David Emerson's floor crossing is compared to that of Churchill, I wouldn't consider that a compliment, if I were Emerson. Quitting from the government benches on one single issue (a la David Kilgour) is just childishly histrionic. In the very least you should've crossed the floor to become an indpendent, like Pat O'Brien, not to another party.

And Churchill's second floor crossing - don't even get me started. Is Winston "will do anything to stop [insert evil here]" Churchill a distant relative of Buzz "will do anything to stop [insert evil here]" Hargrove? Hey Damian, don't tell me you're a Buzz Hargrove fan?

In conclusion: Emerson bad, Churchill bad too.

At 9:47 a.m., Blogger Ghost of a flea said...

Jay is right: anyone who says Churchill was never taken to task for his ratting and re-ratting has no idea what they are talking about. Though I still have no idea why Emerson is meant to be such a gift for Cabinet.

As for this:

"In my personal opinion, Winston Churchill is simply a politician who happened upon a time with a lot of drama. Any other politician in his place would've been about the same."

Steve is obviously one of the sort of conservative who would have voted for Chamberlain. Peace in our time, dude (and enjoy the blue Kool-Aid).

At 8:02 p.m., Blogger Steve said...

We're talking about floor-crossing, not war, are we?

But I guess I shouldn't have flippantly remarked on Churchill's career. That opened up a whole can of worms. Suffice to say that I would have to vote for Churchill over one such as Chamberlain, but I wouldn't be very happy about it. I believe there were better people than both Chamberlain or Churchill (or Roosevelt for that matter) to lead their respective countries, but that's for another day.


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