Running left, governing from the centre?

I don’t dip much into politics on this blog because I don’t understand the mechanics of the political process – every time I think I have it more or less figured out – some new twist emerges.  I’m at the point now where I think there isn’t really a formula for a successful election – parties make it up on the fly.

Having said that, I am surprised by the federal Liberals in this campaign.  It seems they are running hard to the left on a lot of issues and I think that would alienate a lot of middle ground voters.  Back in the 1990s a lot of folks that I know who would identify themselves having some affinity to Republicans and that like the Yanks in general would have easily voted for the Liberals in Canada.   Now, you hear ‘Republican’ or ‘American-style’ epithets hurled by Liberals on a daily basis.    There have been a number of issues where I was surprised at the left wing view.

I guess the Libs feel threatened by the NDP and the Bloc but if they ever want to be a majority party again, they will have to get back to that centre concept.

Maybe they should recruit the new mayor of Calgary to lead the party.   He’s a business guy, a Muslim and an urban thinker.  He could probably secure a lot of votes in western Canada and would be appealing in central Canada as well.   I suspect his French isn’t that good but flawless French hasn’t helped Iggy much.

Who knows?  Maybe the natural governing party is now doomed to be a marginal party with no clear ideological position.     On a wide variety of social and economic issues, the vast majority of non-Quebec Canadians identify themselves squarely in the centre, even a bit to the right of centre.   If the Libs are fighting with at least three parties for those on the left of centre, it could be a long time in the wilderness.

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4 Responses to Running left, governing from the centre?

  1. scott says:

    Who knows? Maybe the natural governing party is now doomed to be a marginal party with no clear ideological position.

    This isn’t out of the rhelm of possibilities, David. It happened in the UK when many traditional domestic Liberal policies, which were once first on the minds of Brits, became irrelevant. Couple that with Thatcher (running on a right-wing agenda) which pushed the counter debate on the left further away from the centre, forcing liberal moderates and centrist alike to either take a stand on policy and become uncomfortably ideological (or face political extinction). Instead they chose to merge with the Dems. That said, I see remnants of this even in the last two minority parliaments. Can you imagine what will happen on the left when the debate becomes even further polarized if, and when, the Tories gain a majority?

  2. I guess that’s why I feel so comfortable in Québec.

  3. The Liberals have historically campaigned from the left and governed from the right.

    They’ve generally won because Canada is, generally, a left-leaning country. In recent year, however, the Liberal fiction has worn thin.

    The reason why the Liberals are not succeeding campaigning from the left in this election is that it is simply not credible. Ignatieff is not a leftist, he is at best centerist, and most likely a red Tory.

  4. mikel says:

    I think you are missing out what ‘left’ actually is. It has very little meaning, especially in Canada. What is more of a surprise and an issue is that HARPER is ‘governing from the left’. The only way Harper is more ‘republican’ right now is if you count the number of crooked scandals they are involved in.
    The liberals have never really indicated anything ‘structurally’ different from the tories. They lowered corporate income tax as much as the tories did, and have only said that they wouldn’t lower them more NOW. Not that they wouldn’t lower them at all.
    The big difference right now is last election. Ignatieff is a relative unknown who is an academic from harvard. So he’s doing what Harper was doing years ago-trying to sound less scary.
    I’ve actually seen VERY little of substance in this election to mark ‘right’ OR ‘left’. Iggy says he’s all for health care, and constantly brings up why we should ‘fear’ Harper, even though the liberals did as much damage to health care as the tories.
    The environment hasn’t even been brought up, but I think I read the liberals are still thinking of the carbon tax, which once again isn’t really a ‘right vs. left’ issue.
    But politicians are not exactly known for adherence to high ideals-they ‘say’ whatever sounds good and can get them elected. I think Scott’s tory bias is showing a bit, I’ve mentioned elsewhere that Ignatieff doesn’t even seem to be trying very hard to be elected, and as a smart guy he knows the following:

    1. In a majority government he wouldn’t have to vote on policies AT ALL-so nothing to get smeared by.
    2. The corporate bias against the NDP is so strong that there is no real fear of them replacing ‘canada’s natural governing party’.
    3. Harper has accumulated scandals enough in a MINORITY government, so four years in majority could well see him surpass Mulroney.
    4. The conservative party has a history of devouring itself, particularly when successful.

    So Ignatieff knows that four years of collecting a paycheque while shouting rhetoric from the sidelines would do more electioneering for him than any amount of campaign contributions.

    That’s why I tell conservatives they should vote liberal. Harper actually have more power as head of a minority than almost any democratic leader in the world. With ALL the power, it virtually guarantees either an uprising (don’t rule it out if we see a majority with a 45% popular vote) or the end of the CONSERVATIVE party-who have much more of a history of imploding.

  5. richard says:

    ” It seems they are running hard to the left on a lot of issues and I think that would alienate a lot of middle ground voters. ”

    Hard to the left???

    Only someone hard to the right could say that. The Libs are muddling in the middle, as per usual. I don’t see much left wing stuff in their platform, unless you are viewing the platform from a south-of-the-border perspective.

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