Sunday, November 04, 2007

On the Attack

The Tories have pounced on Dion’s somewhat misguided GST musings with a new attack ad. Apparently Dion has made "billions of dollars" in spending promises which is news to me because, outside of the environment, I haven’t really heard any promises. We also learn in the ads that 5 4 3.5 10 a nebulous number of priorities beats 3 pillars.

As for the ads themselves, yeah it looks like Ben and Rachel put them together, but it's still smart politics. With Dion down, might as well keep punching. And for the Tories flush with cash, they can certainly afford to run them.

I’ve been saying for a long time that the biggest problem with the Liberal Party isn't the leadership, MPs, policy positions, or recent baggage. The biggest problem is the structural inability of the party to fundraise. And the most discouraging thing is that there doesn't seem to be any sort of plan out there to turn things around.

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12 Comments:

  • Rex Murphy had a column in the G&M yesterday about Dion and the GST -- the first column of Rex's that I've agreed with in years. The gist: it's sad that good policy makes bad politics, and that so many are willing to slam Dion for suggesting politically unsavoury but otherwise sound policy.

    By Blogger Dale, at 7:53 PM  

  • “The biggest problem is the structural inability of the party to fundraise.”

    From an organizational perspective, the problem is that the processes are not in place. The constitution was amended to give greater say to Riding Presidents. However, we have no indication that anything is being done.

    Nor, are there any processes to use the Presidents’ access to the party’s top brass to build grassroots support.

    Basically, the party is unchanged from the Chretien days.

    As I told Dominic LeBlanc, the party has to redefine its mission and realign the organization to the mission.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 9:23 PM  

  • Perhaps the billions in spending are to be spent as a result of inaction or lack of reform on certain cash drains.

    By Blogger Abdul-Rahim, at 9:36 AM  

  • "redefine its mission and realign the organization to the mission"? C'mon. The mission is to get elected and put liberal policies in place. That mission hasn't changed, and won't change, any more than the Democratic, Republican, or Conservative missions change. That's just consultispeak, and nobody's going to listen to it unless they're being paid to.

    The problem is that the environment has changed, and the Liberal party needs to understand that change before it begins to change with it. On that, you're absolutely right with the "grassroots" comment. You need mass numbers of small donors, and the only way you're going to get that is to make these small donors think that they're being listened to.

    I think that does involve local officials (like your riding presidents) but to sound an oft-beaten drum, it also involves the development of a netroots, and the Liberals have been seriously, seriously lacking in that regard. The organization and sophistication of the "Libloggers" badly lags behind their conservative counterparts, and isn't even in the same galaxy as the American Democratic netroots.

    Yes, part of that is the NDP sucking up the strong, ideological, small-"d" democratic base that propels a netroots, but that's not all of it. As we've seen with Cherniak, the Liberals appear uncomfortable with the very concept of the Internet, let alone making it a backbone of fundraising.

    THAT, not "redefinition of mission", is the first thing you need to change.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 10:53 AM  

  • The fundraising ineffectiveness comes from the new structure. It is far easier to secure significant corporate funding than it is to gain the trust (and pocketbook access) of thousands of Canadians.

    Why does the LPC do so poorly in this area?
    Disdain of the 'Tim Hortons' people who make up the majority of potential donors.

    Getting someone to vote for you because they like your policies and like how you make them feel is one thing, but getting them to give you their money requires that they believe you care what they think.

    LPC donations stats tell you how many Canadians believe the party cares what they think. This is even tougher when in opposition as there aren't any real or implied ways for individuals to be rewarded for stepping up.

    Unfortunately, right now the CPC is defining Liberal values as 'just get back to power'. Decent polling results (in light of current affairs) don't show it but this doesn't resonate with voters enough to make them take out their wallets.

    Cheers,
    Shawn

    By Blogger IceMack, at 12:14 PM  

  • With the Council of Presidents meeting coming up in December, it will be interesting to see what comes out of that as far as grass roots engagement and fundraising tips.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:59 PM  

  • As a Conservative, I am loving watching my party kick the Liberals while they are down, as they did to us for so many years.

    By Blogger sir john a., at 4:36 PM  

  • "Dion’s somewhat misguided GST musings"

    Perhaps just a mild understatement ?

    Somewhat ?

    Misguided ???

    By Blogger Fred -, at 4:42 PM  

  • "That mission hasn't changed, and won't change, any more than the Democratic, Republican, or Conservative missions change. That's just consultispeak, and nobody's going to listen to it unless they're being paid to."

    You must know a lot about management?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:47 PM  

  • "As a Conservative, I am loving watching my party kick the Liberals while they are down, as they did to us for so many years."

    Today, you ended up with harper as party boss. He sure has lots of moral authority.

    Congragulation!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:52 PM  

  • "The mission is to get elected and put liberal policies in place. That mission hasn't changed, and won't change, any more than the Democratic, Republican, or Conservative missions change."

    Well, no. The mission is not simply to get elected. The Liberal Party problem is that that has been the focus, getting elected is an end unto itself.

    What is the mission of this party? OK, we get the environmental thing, sort of, but what ARE Dion's and the Liberal's governmental and legislative priorities? What IS the mission? The listing rudderlessness of the party started under Chretien and has not been righted. Liberals knew what they were voting FOR when Trudeau was at the helm. And Harper has shown that your mission doesn't even have to be grandiose: it can be tiny little tinkerings on the edge of important issues but that don't amount to all that much as long as they are clear and clearly communicated.

    In politics, unless the other guy is trying desperately to pull a Tory and kill his or her own campaign, you only win by providing a clear and satisfactory answer to two questions: why should Canadians vote for YOU? why do you want to be elected?

    Right now, the Liberals haven't got an answer to either.

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 5:26 PM  

  • “why should Canadians vote for YOU? why do you want to be elected?”

    Hmmm! These are two good questions. I disagree with your view on the first question. And, I’ll explain why the second issue is of paramount importance.

    Firstly, the LPC has a platform. It’s done its polling and demographic research (like any business organization). It’s offering policies tailored to female, green and urban voters.

    This is the easy part. It’s Politics 101. Give me your vote and I’ll give you the policy you want. So, the LPC can get votes if it communicates well.

    However, the more critical organizational aspect is the mission. Why do we want to be elected?

    In a business organization, a clear mission allows you to recruit, train, empower and reward the right people. You employees know why they are there and what they need to do.

    In politics, an ideological party (e.g. NDP) serves certain segments of society. Their cadres come from a certain background, appear at appropriate events and say the right things. They recruit and draw donations accordingly.

    In the LPC, we lack credibility because we are unwilling to confront ourselves. After the scandals, who are we and what do we stand for? How do we develop consensus and policies? Why are there so few greenies among prominent Liberals?

    Without a clear mission, we cannot develop a sustaining organization. Where are the right people and processes? Where are the donors?

    The public will know if we are a cynical organization. We don’t walk the talk. Politics 101 is not enough.

    Are there businesses that promote healthy diets but include lots of salt and sugar in their products? Why would you want to be a repeat customer?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 1:09 AM  

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