Saturday, January 14, 2006

Making History

Worst Liberal Party Results Ever (popular vote)

5. Lester B. Pearson (1962) 36.97%
4. Paul Martin (2004) 36.7%
3. Lester B. Pearson (1958) 33.40%
2. John Turner (1988) 31.92%
1. John Turner (1984) 28.02%

On that topic, I've just finished off "The Big Red Machine", and I must say it's well worth the read. I thought I'd include a few of Clarkson's thoughts on the 1984 campaign:

p.119 "Turner's accepting his advice indicated how his hubris had taken him to an overriding belief in the power of his own public persona. After all, he was devoting himself, a main of superior talents, to the mission of government. Deeds were not needed. His words alone should be enough to convince the public that he was bringing a new face to government. The very fact of his ascendancy would surely reverse years of discontent. He held Brian Mulroney in low regard, deeming him as lightweigh in politics as he had been in business."

p.120 "the lethargy that characterized the first three weeks of the Liberal campaign was due mainly to the prime minister's flat refusal to campaign in July. In waiting for Brian Mulroney to self-destruct, Turner lost control of the political agenda and let the media concentrate on the mistakes, small and large, with which he proceeded to oblige them."

p.121 "A leader-centered campaign requires that the leader have something to say."

p.128 "Having been described for years in flattering terms by reporters who built up his myth as dauphin-in-exile, he was unnerved by their switch to a more critical stance once he re-entered the political ring."



    Pg. 128 makes me think of Michael Ignatieff.

    By Anonymous Dr. Strangelove, at 11:24 AM  

  • And remember, the people around Paul Martin were big fans/lovers of John Turner, too. It is quite eerie, too, the similarities between the 1984 campaign and 2006 campaign.
    But don't worry, CG, the Chretien clan will get a new man in there and Liberal hegemony will rise again.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 AM  

  • At least we know that Liberal arrogance isn't a new phenomenon.

    By Blogger Sean, at 12:20 PM  

  • Whoa... hold on a minute.

    The Libs of '06 are nothing like the Libs of '84.

    Those were men of integrety.....

    By Anonymous SwQ, at 12:21 PM  

  • The parallels of Martin and Turner are astonishing. Both developed their myth and personna as principal ministers in cabinet. Both came to the throne (PM) as heroes-in-waiting. Both fully demonstrated that they were all myth/style, and absolutely no substance. And both had not one original idea, nor a comprehension of how to govern once they were PM.

    And both went down to defeat.

    By Anonymous Erik Sorenson, at 12:42 PM  

  • I suspect 2006 will again make the top 5 worse Liberal showings, although I don't think this will be worse than 1984 even though a few polls suggest otherwise. Maybe 1988, but not 1984. That being said, historically there were only two or three parties since whenever there are four parties it is only natural to expect results to be worse. Here in BC, the provincial NDP always does better than their federal counterparts and likewise the centre-right party be it Social Credit or BC Liberals always do better than either the Liberals or Conservatives. That is because we have two rather than three parties.

    By Blogger Miles Lunn, at 1:08 PM  

  • "The parallels of Martin and Turner are astonishing. Both developed their myth and personna as principal ministers in cabinet. Both came to the throne (PM) as heroes-in-waiting. Both fully demonstrated that they were all myth/style, and absolutely no substance. And both had not one original idea, nor a comprehension of how to govern once they were PM.

    And both went down to defeat."

    Eric, you forgot one:

    And both were sabotaged by Chretienites, smack dab in the middle of an election.

    Not that this inept campaign could have done much better with some loyalty to the party in either case, but it is another historical parallel.

    A pox on both their houses.

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 2:11 PM  

  • Wow! that's eerie. History does repeat itself.

    By Blogger Jean LeBlanc, at 3:29 PM  

  • I've always felt that Turner did a huge service to the Liberal party by fighting the 1988 election on free trade.

    The '84 defeat was so bad, Broadbent was given to musing aloud that the NDP would replace the Liberals as the party of the left.

    By engineering a free trade showdown, Turner was able to re-invigourate it's base, that it could be home to those of patriotism and principle, a home quite different than the Mulroney Tories. Had Turner succumbed to a "me too" campaign, the Liberals may well have faded away.

    Other than hand Layton the opportunity that Broadbent missed, I don't see much more in Martin's legacy.

    By Anonymous Paul, at 5:56 PM  

  • The Liberals have campaigned for years on the idea that Stephen Harper is scary.

    Canadians don't believe them.

    The media, usually friendly, have seen Paul Martin as full of platitudes and short on accomplishments and results.

    The Martin team, are seeing the campaign speeding toward a wall, and having insulted millions of Canadians, have decided to put the pedal to the metal and offer up only attack after attack.

    The more they attack, the less ground they gain.

    Now the Bloc is suggesting Martin's seat is in their crosshairs. is reporting on these stories and more.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:29 PM  

  • Now that we're all in agreement on the lameness of Martin as PM, we can move onto the next Canadian foible:
    Stephen Harper as PM =

    a) John Diefenbaker
    b) Charles Tupper
    c) Kim Campbell
    d) Arthur Meighen

    I'm picking d); while he himself may not be as scary as the rearview mirror indicates, his bulky caucus is like a nine-headed snake on crack... If you don't think they aren't going to waste govt's time on votes/debates about abortion, cutting the rights of minorities and a pan-evangelist agenda, then you haven't been reading the bios on many of your candidates. All you Con's out there can ignore the fact that spousal homicides by firearms are down nearly 40% since the gun control legislation, and aim to please the NRA and American suppliers. Instead of registering guns, Canada will now register same sex people...
    That's progress.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:22 AM  

  • It was the Mulroney gun control legislation of 1991 that had some effect. The 1995 legilation was for the creation of a registry, and that's pretty much it. Control will get tighter under the Tories not looser. How? By enfocing the laws, increasing the penalties, and increasing border security. Just the other day, Customs' Officers in Emerson MB apprehended a known gang member returning from the US with six handguns in his trunk. Gang members go down there, purchase them, and bring them back...illegally. A handgun ban will do nothing to stop that. Increased border security will.

    The handgun ban is a joke and an insult. They're already banned. Go try and buy a handgun, see how easy it is. I dare you.

    By Blogger Raging Ranter, at 1:22 AM  

  • The difference, for pete's sake, between Paul Martin and John Turner is blindingly obvious: While both are similar in all the ways you mention, Paul Martin lead a corrupt government with corrupt friends.

    Oh, and John Turner didn't accuse his own army of being a threat to his own country.

    By Anonymous Chris from Victoria, BC, at 6:13 AM  

  • It's amazing how frequently the name "John Turner" has come up during this campaign. I can remember just after the new year, Bob Fife was on CTV and said that the Liberal campaign was the worst he'd seen since Turner. My Liberal colleagues here at Dalhousie are fairly reguarly invoking the parallel between Martin and Turner. Considering that it was just over two years ago that people were talking about Martin being the one to bring Mulroney-sized majorities for the Liberals, the irony therein itself is great.

    By Blogger RGM, at 8:50 AM  

  • When "The Big Red Machine" comes out in paperback, I hope Clarkson includes a chapter on the 2006 debacle.

    By Blogger Road Hammer, at 5:00 PM  

  • Big Red Machine is out in paperback. I read it in November, and it is well worth the read. One of the major thems to me was the historical correlation between excessive centralization of the Party around the leader/PMO, and electoral disaster.

    The weekend before the non-confidence vote, a non-partisan group of my friends did a pool - I was mocked as a partisan shill for choosing a 2-seat Conservative majority, the bulk of the predictions were for a reduced Liberal minority.

    My pick was based almost entirely on the conclusion that there has never been a more centralized incarnation of the Liberal Party with a more overbearing PMO.

    By Blogger OttawaCon, at 6:03 PM  

  • paul pointed out that Jack Layton now has the opportunity that Broadbent missed. It's quite true, both Tories and New Democrats were foolish in the Fall of 1984, and the next few years thereafter, not to realize that they had an historic opportunity within their grasp. The Tories were too flush with success, and the NDP was too leary of doing even the slightest behind the scenes business with the anti-labour Tories.

    The major differences between this election and 1984 is that the Liberals are roughly 2 percentage points higher and the NDP 2 percentage points lower. Jack's campaign was better than in 2004, but still short of the mark. In trying to succeed where Broadbent failed, it would have helped to have had at his side such veterans as Robinson, Waddell, Nystrom and most significantly Schreyer. Yet he won't have any of them. A big disappointment, since these people would have been dynamite persuaders of intelligent liberals on As It Happens, or CBC Newsworld, or any similar forum.

    By Blogger Budd Campbell, at 2:46 PM  

  • Pretty worthwhile data, lots of thanks for your post.

    By Anonymous, at 3:18 AM  

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