Friday, October 24, 2008

Rebuilding the Big Red Machine

The Liberal Party has a problem. And the first step (or twelfth?) in solving any problem is to admit you have a problem. And the biggest problem right now is that too many Liberals won’t admit there’s a problem. So here are a few inconvenient truths:

-The Conservatives raised 12 million dollars more than the Liberals last year. Sure, it may not always be well spent, but it pretty much guarantees that, come May, whoever emerges from the Liberal leadership bloodbath is going to face a relentless barrage of negative ads.

-The Conservatives have well over four times as many donors as the Liberal Party. Think about that for a second. More than anything, this shows how the Liberal Party has been unable to connect with Canadians.

-And the lowly NDP? Oh yeah, they have more donors than the Liberals too.

-If you give the Liberals every riding they finished second, within 10% of winning, that gives them a whooping 109 seats. Even if you give them every riding they finished second, within 20% of winning, that still only leaves you with 137 ridings where they are mildly competitive.

-Want a different definition of competitive? Let's say 25% of the vote. Well, then the Tories lead the Liberals 218 to 144. If you consider anything less than 15% a “dead riding”, then there are 80 dead Liberal ridings and 27 dead Tory ridings.

-Over a third of all Liberal-held seats are in Toronto. They hold 7 seats in Western Canada and did not crack 20% of the vote in any of the four Western Provinces. Of those 137 mildly competitive ridings I mentioned, 17 are in Western Canada, leaving them as a non-factor in 77 seats west of Ontario. That's a lot of seats to write off, especially when you consider it isn't going much better in rural Quebec, or rural Ontario.

-The Liberals are losing ground with one of their traditional voter blocks – new Canadians.

So what’s the solution? Well, these guys have some good ideas – I’ve stolen the best ones they put forward for this post and I encourage everyone to steal any of my own I toss up. I also need to offer a giant hat tip to tGPOitHotW, as he was smart enough to suggest a lot of these things long before the results of the last election woke other people up.

So, in my humble opinion, here’s what the party needs to fix, and a few ways we can go about fixing it:


Growing the Membership

Admittedly, holding leadership races every two years is one way to grow the membership but I strongly doubt that’s the best way to do it. An obvious strategy is to just phone blitz old membership lists and identified Liberals, and ask them to sign up. Another is to hold more public events. Use the few MPs we do have – force them to hold at least 6 town halls a year if you must. And remember that people who generally feel strongly about issues are more likely to donate their time and money, so build connections with activists and recruit them in to the party. Find a local issue and latch onto it - if it gets you 20 new committed Liberals in an unheld riding, then it's worth the effort.


Rebuilding the Ridings

Another way to build the party is by doing it riding by riding, door by door. Ideally, you’d put a 308 riding strategy in place, but maybe we leave the Crowfoots of the world for a few years down the line and focus first on making the party competitive in 200 ridings, which is what you need to be if you want to ever form a majority government again.

So you hire 20 field workers and assign them each to 8 ridings. These field workers should be young and energetic and they should be people who would work for cheap, knowing that this is a golden chance to make connections and move up in the party. Have them make fundraising phone calls Monday to Thursday night – that’d more than pay for their salary.

Then every Saturday and Sunday, they’d be tasked to organize a door knocking blitz in one of their 8 ridings. Even if there are only four Liberals in the whole riding who give a damn, then the five of them can spend the afternoon going door to door. Even if they each only find one person willing to buy a membership, then that’s 5 new Liberals a month, 60 new Liberals a year, and couple thousand people who know the party exists and what it’s 15 second doorstep message is (oh, and as another piece of advice, find a 15 second doorstep message for what this party stands for). And you know what? I’m willing to bet at least 5 of those 60 sign-ups will join the monthly door knock next year and suddenly the riding is twice as strong as it used to be.


Engaging the Membership

So what do we do with do with all these new members? How do we make them give a damn about the Liberal Party? The next step is to engage them.

Some people like policy. For them, set up policy weekends and float discussion papers. Implement a rule where the party MUST adopt two of the top five policies passed at policy conventions – I used to be a huge policy nut but I barely have the energy to go to the policy workshops at the conventions anymore because I know the party will just ignore whatever is passed.

But policy isn’t for everyone. So hold barbeques, social events, and pancake breakfasts. Set up a book club. Hold podcasts and online chats. Create an online community – the sexy centristes did a great job of that in France. Again, scan the world and find the best ideas others have used.

You just need to do something to make people feel like they’re really a part of something. We’ve got 75 MPs. Why not force each of them, including the leader, to randomly call 10 average run of the mill party members every month to thank them for being a member and asking them what they think the party should be doing? We’d reach 9,000 Liberals a year – 9,000 people who would be genuinely excited to know an MP cares what they think. You know what? I bet this would motivate a lot of casual Liberals to get more involved or donate to the party.


Finding the Coalition

Anyone who has read any of the “behind the scenes” books on the Harper Conservatives knows about the brilliant use of micro-targeting they’ve employed. They found their target demographics and they’ve relentlessly gone after them, through direct mail, advertisements, and policies. The Liberals need to find their “winning coalition” and then shamelessly pander to them (luckily we are experience at this). Maybe it’s immigrants, working women, and seniors. Maybe it’s young voters, single parents, and commuters. I’ll leave finding that coalition to people who are a lot smarter than me.

Once we have them, we need to connect with them by showing them that the Liberal Party will tangibly make their lives better and that the Liberal Party leader cares about them and their family.


Raising the Dough

I’ve left fundraising for the end because, in the end, it’s all about the money. The first fundraising tip I’ll offer is to call up a few people on the Barack Obama team come November 5th, and get their help. The Tories weren’t afraid to go to the other side of the globe for advice – we shouldn’t be afraid to look a lot closer than that.

Beyond that, fundraising dollars will flow from some of the other things I’ve talked about. Given the public financing rules, a 308 riding strategy can be legitimately classified as a fundraising tactic. Just look at Alberta. In 2008, the Liberal party got 144,000 votes there. In 2004 – at the height of Adscam – they got 279,000. At $1.95 a vote, that works out to an extra $263,000 a year, or a million bucks over a normal four year election cycle. Growing the party in places where we aren’t yet in a position to win seats means more money and, down the road, it will actually translate into substantial electoral gains.

If you have an engaged membership, they’re also more likely to donate – and to encourage others to donate. Obama has done a great job encouraging people to set up “personal fundraising pages” where supporters can set targets and encourage their friends and family to donate. He’s also managed to use the internet and web 2.0 technology as a fundraising tool – something all parties in Canada have yet to master.

But, regardless of the method, the main goal needs to be to just increase the number of donors. Once you get a $20 donation, it’s easy to talk that individual up to a $50, then a $100 donation. So hold smaller fundraisers with broader appeal. Even if you don’t make a ton off them, the important thing is to get your donors’ information into your database.

Which brings me to my next point – get an f’ing database. The Tories have pages upon pages (bytes upon bytes?) of information on donors, supporters, and voters – the Liberals have trouble sending out automatic renewals for party memberships. The Dave Taylor renewal document I linked to earlier this week made sense – every time a member signs up for the party you should find out what issues they care about and any other information about them you can. The more you know about voters, the easier it is to tailor your message to them. In the same vein, the more you know about your members, the easier it is to target fundraising messages to them.

Which brings me to my next point – get an f’ing message. When it comes to fundraising, pick an issue and fundraise on this issue. The Tories do this magnificently – hate the concept of man on man monogamy? Do those pinkos at the CBC make you want to puke? Worried about $8 a head lettuce? Well, send us $20. The Liberals need to do the same thing (with different issues, obviously).

Looking beyond fundraising, the party really does need to find out what it stands for in broader terms if it hopes to win over Canadians. Maybe another Kingston Conference is the solution. Maybe some deep soul searching will be enough. But, regardless of the path there, Liberals need to find out what they believe in and, more importantly, need to be able to communicate this to Canadians. That means understandable policies people can relate to and a clear message about our values.


In Conclusion

I’m sure there are better ideas than these out there – the important thing is to get people talking about party renewal. And by talking, I don’t just mean party officials saying “renewal” in every speech to pay lip service to the idea. I don’t just mean leadership candidates going to Alberta and giving the usual “Alberta Liberals are the best Liberals. I’m going to make winning seats here a priority!” spiel. I don’t mean confusing the hard work that needs to be done with short term fixes to win a handful of extra Ontario seats next election.

We need an honest discussion about what specific steps the party should take and then we need to actually take those steps. Hopefully the leadership candidates will initiate this conversation. Hopefully grassroots Liberal members will force them to if they don’t.

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103 Comments:

  • These are all good ideas, but there's one more thing that Liberals will have to do:

    Be patient.

    Rebuilding takes time. In fact, it can take longer than building because a lot of old assumptions and ideas have to be taken apart and carted away. And it's a lot of those old assumptions and ideas that have gotten us into the mess we're in.

    So let me add another inconvenient truth to your list:

    We're not going to win the next election. And probably not the next one, either.

    What's going to kill us again is if we panic after failing to secure a majority government after the next election. We shouldn't even expect a minority government. So we shouldn't dump our leader (whoever it may be), blindly adopt policies, or do any of the other pointless things we do when things go our way.

    It's going to take time, and it isn't going to be easy. But it's definitely possible, and implementing the ideas that CalgaryGrit and others have suggested is the start. But it's not the end. That's a couple of elections in the distance, still.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:42 PM  

  • Excellent analysis of the issues CG, as usual.

    By Blogger Bryan, at 12:43 PM  

  • Ah, let the party die a painful death already...lol..

    By Blogger hatrock, at 12:58 PM  

  • The Greens beat the Liberals in about 25 ridings in the Oct. 14 election. Do you see more non-compete agreements, or some kind of merger?

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 1:18 PM  

  • "anonymous": maybe not that patient. Dean's strategy started paying off in 2006, and it's worked like a charm so far in 2008. Engagement can be like a snowball: people who are engaged can bring other people in, who bring other people in, and pretty soon you've got that gigantic MyBO fundraising database.

    CalGrit: Excellent points, especially on the fundraising database. I've been wondering for a while why the Liberals-a unified entity--doesn't have some kind of MyBO organizational tool to link up local Liberals, spur fundraising, provide them with a protected and friendly communication space and connect the elites with the grassroots.

    Maybe the Liberals develop that, maybe they don't. But certainly something as simple as a database is a nice start, and you're absolutely right that it should be about getting names, rather than dollars.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:32 PM  

  • I can imagine there are many people that would give, but are on a fixed income, and do not pay tsxes. If they received some of it back when they did donate, it would be different, my aunt is one of them.

    By Anonymous cari, at 1:38 PM  

  • I see the Liberals as having to support Proportional Representation this session, or they'll see their future chances dashed, just like many predict.

    It's a great document you've put together Dan.

    "Again, scan the world and find the best ideas others have used."

    Worked for Harper and his speeches after all ;-)

    And I especially like the idea of the 75 MPs each phoning random members to have conversations. It would be time well spent.

    By Anonymous Saskboy, at 1:46 PM  

  • "whoever emerges from the Liberal leadership bloodbath is going to face a relentless barrage of negative ads."

    or as we prefer to think of it . . . telling Canadians the truth.

    By Blogger Fred, at 2:10 PM  

  • Don't forget about the riding associations, a mid-level riding will never get over that hump (well 9/10 times at least) without some effective, in-between election, local organization. Everything from member contact, riding events, candidate searches, and fundraising.

    Give these arms of the organization some assistance, don't talk down to them, allow them to feel they have a voice, etc... That will go a long way to making the Liberals relevant again.

    By OpenID seaninsaskatchewan, at 2:11 PM  

  • Outstanding post. I think you and Rob Silver should be put in charge of the party.

    By Anonymous Alex, at 2:14 PM  

  • “We shouldn't even expect a minority government. So we shouldn't dump our leader (whoever it may be), blindly adopt policies, or do any of the other pointless things we do when things go our way”

    Now, that's a truly foolish thing to say.

    Look at how incompetent harper's cabinet was. Their record speaks for itself. The fact that dion didn't win the election, and lost 20 seats is a testimony to dion's incompetence.

    We had a terrible ground game because very few people had faith in dion. We were unable to sell the electorate because dion didn't have respect for what the people wanted.

    Yes, the CPC threw a lot of dirt at dion. But, the dirt stuck on dion because there was truth in the attacks. The dirt didn't stick on Chretien in 1993.

    We will have another chance at harper during the recession. We better win this one. The CPC is getting better and learning from its mistakes. We don't have the time to rebuild the organization.

    What is politics about? At the simplest, politics is about delivering what the majority want. What is leadership? The ability is to build rapport and inspire trust and confidence.

    Let's find some real politicians and leaders, and take down the CPC pronto.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:18 PM  

  • And yet, there is STILL a curious lack of suggestions on how the Liberal Party can connect with Westerners.

    By Blogger The Grumpy Voter, at 2:25 PM  

  • The most important advice mentioned above is "be paitient". There needs to be a 10 year plan - Harper, despite what everyone says, was quite prepared to move incrementally towards a majority and, if his 10 year plan pays off, the next election will get him one. The first step in this 10 year plan is to select a leader who will be around for the building of that goal. This means the current leadership race needs to look past the next election and select someone who will re-build the party and be ready to win in 2014 or 2018. Sorry Mr. Rae, Ignatieff or McKenna - that means a new generational leader who has the energy and time to take the Liberal party past the next 2 years.

    By Anonymous Ron, at 2:43 PM  

  • "...but maybe we leave the Crowfoots of the world for a few years down the line and focus first on making the party competitive in 200 ridings, which is what you need to be if you want to ever form a majority government again."

    Isn't that precisely what you criticized someone else for saying last week?


    Otherwise this is a very good post.

    Keep 'em coming.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:46 PM  

  • Some very simple, good ideas.

    I know back in 2006, I went to a meeting where they were talking about building a DB of stuff, and giving people a sort of "online Liberal homepage", where they could do stuff like renew online, and stuff like that. I wonder if that ever got off the ground.

    By Blogger UWHabs, at 2:49 PM  

  • Demosthenes: If fundraising and reorganization can proceed more quickly than anticipated, then that's wonderful. But we must temper our anticipation with pragmatism, and acknowledge that even if we have good plans, they will take time to execute.

    JimTan: No, I don't think it's a foolish thing to say at all. (Although my omitting the world "don't" between "things" and "go" was rather silly.) We can't expect a messiah, and even if one appears, we still have a lot of groundwork to do. Using the party leader as an excuse to do nothing will only lead to failure. I don't think that Conservatives are inspired by Stephen Harper, per se. But they are clearly outworking and moreover, out-donating us by a significant degree. If this is really the last chance we have to win an election, then maybe we should just take Hatrock's advice.

    The Grumpty Voter: I agree, there is a lack of suggestions on how the Liberal Party can connect with Westerners. You're a Westerner. What are we doing wrong?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:35 PM  

  • Well said CG.

    The fundraising gap goes well beyond the current rules. Even in the 80s, the party was well behind the old PCs in individual donations. They relied on corporate donations while in power, and forgot that their individual donor base was non-existant.

    Too many Liberals seem to think that the only thing that stopped them from winning was Dion. They assume that everyone sees Harper and the Tories as they do, so therefore, the only way he won was Dion.

    Take a page from the work the Ontario Liberals did in 1999-2000. They made the assumption that Harris was awful, everyone must think that and that it must be McGuinty's fault. Well, he stuck around, went back to basics and wona majority (granted, against a weakend and tired PC Party).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:43 PM  

  • CG,

    You appear to be the lone Liberal voice (at least on the blogosphere) who is prepared to admit the Liberals have a long and arduous road ahead of them.

    Kinsella is already betting $1,000 on a Liberal victory next time around based on nothing but a new leader. Wasn't that the assumption about two years ago?

    As a Conservative, I can only hope nobody of importance listens to your sage advice, but you deserve praise for your frank and forthright diagnosis of the party.

    By Blogger sir john a., at 3:48 PM  

  • I wish the Liberal party would revert to a small-L liberal party instead of being the Somewhat-less-Fabian-Socialist than the NDP Party.

    Libertarians in this country, who currently vote for the Conservatives would flock to the Liberal Party if they actually embraced "liberal" ideology, like: free speech, free markets, less government interference in people's lives.

    But of course, the Liberal Party supports: hate speech legislation and "Human Rights" Commissions that serve to judge whether or not speech is "contemptuous or hateful", more regulation, larger government and even more social programs.

    There's a huge block of libertarian Conservative supporters that support gay rights, drug decriminalization, etc. that struggle with their support for the Conservatives, like myself. If the Liberal Party stopped being Fabian Socialists and returned to liberalism, we might actually make the jump.

    You should note, that while libertarians are a small voting block, they are a huge force on the internets and in talk radio, newspaper columns, etc. These people have been part of the huge apparatus attacking the Liberal Party.

    Just some food for thought.

    By Blogger Mike Brock, at 3:59 PM  

  • "As a Conservative, I can only hope nobody of importance listens to your sage advice,"

    Sir John,

    You must have been very disappointed in harper. He blew the majority. Any chance of a change in leadership?

    By Blogger JimTan, at 4:00 PM  

  • “We can't expect a messiah, and even if one appears, we still have a lot of groundwork to do. Using the party leader as an excuse to do nothing will only lead to failure.”

    Actually, I'm not suggesting that we do nothing about the organization. Indeed, the old LPC organization and cadres are a major problem.

    I'm trying to say that time is short. The LPC is losing the minorities vote. This segment has no time for losers. Dion's refusal to stand and fight on harper's immigration bill was very damaging. Any further indecisiveness will finish off the LPC in urban centres. What's left?

    Here's the business analogy. Re-organization is about quality improvement. But, quality improvement must be driven by a winning strategy. Otherwise, you can improve quality as much as you want. But, the customers are gone.

    Take Obama as a positive example. He is an inspirational leader, and a tremendous grassroots organizer. The two elements are interdependent. He could do it in 18 months.

    Someone like Rae or Kennedy would need the same time to beat a bunch like the harperites. They only gained 1% point against the likes of dion and the Bloc. That is very weak!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 4:24 PM  

  • Brilliant Dan, absolutely Brilliant....those are ground breaking ideas, I am very very impressed.
    tGPOitHotW

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:46 PM  

  • Is it just me or do the Liberals seem more united without a leader than they do with one?

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 4:58 PM  

  • "Someone like Rae or Kennedy would need the same time to beat a bunch like the harperites. They only gained 1% point against the likes of dion and the Bloc. That is very weak!"

    1. Every campaign since 1962 save 2 (in 1988 there was no change and in 1974 Trudeau did slightly better) have involved incumbents losing support compared to pre-election polls. On average they lose 3 points. Polls in August for the Tories ranged from 35-37%. In 102 polls from January 2007 till August 2008, precisely 1 had the Tories at 42%, 1 had the Tories at 41%, 2 had the Tories at 40%, 4 had the Tories at 39% and 6 had them at 38%. It is unlikely the Tories expected a majority with those numbers, but it speaks of a good campaign that the Tories outperformed 86% of inter-election polls.

    2. A global economic collapse which you, among others, has suggested is the next Great Depression occurred during the election campaign. Voters tend to blame incumbents for economic trouble.

    3. The Tory strategy wasn't aimed at winning large swathes of new voters. They had run a negative campaign before the election and continued to do so during it. Negative campaigns are about making the other guys get fewer votes, rather than winning more yourself. It worked too - you may note that before the Tory negative ads Dion was ahead of Harper in the polls.

    4. The ~20 million dollar spending caps actually benefit the opposition as did the debate format. Four anti-Harper parties could collectively spend up to 80 million dollars (two did spend to the maximum), while Harper could only spend 20. The debates were each 2 hours of a 4-on-1 pile-on.

    5. You yourself constantly deride Harper as one of the worst Prime Ministers of all time, reciting lists of crimes and iniquities. So lets agree with you and say the Tories have a horrible record.

    6. As much as you deride the Bloc, Gilles Duceppe is an experienced and effective leader. How can they expect to do better in the future? Well, Duceppe is going to retire some day, and the Conservatives can do to his successor what they did to Dion.

    7. It is always harder to gain votes in a 5-party system because people have many options. Harper's 38% result in this election was not a far cry from majority-winning totals in the 90's (41%, 38.5%, 40.9%).

    8. Dion was not an inherently bad leader. He was mis-used by the Liberals in a petulant attack dog role he was ill-prepared for. But he was also made into a bad leader by Conservative attack ads. When initially selected, however, he beat Harper by large margins in a number of polls.

    If Harper's results were so bad, why are you saying things like:
    "I'm trying to say that time is short. The LPC is losing the minorities vote. This segment has no time for losers."

    The sort of idiotic triumphalism that Harper didn't get a majority, you trumpet with one hand is precisely the attitude that is killing the Liberal party.

    Then again, speaking as a Tory, jimtan for Liberal leader.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:09 PM  

  • “If Harper's results were so bad, why are you saying things like:
    "I'm trying to say that time is short. The LPC is losing the minorities vote. This segment has no time for losers."

    Another long monologue from Hose. I must say that I was amused at the way you switched between confidence in a harper majority and a rationalization of a dion victory.

    Anyway, the point I was trying to make is that the New Government is fatally flawed. A decent and balanced person like Joe Clarke would already have won a majority. Instead, vast numbers of voters are willing to resist harper.

    Unfortunately, the LPC leader was weaker. He lost voters to the left and right despite a plea for strategic voting. As a result, our safe seats with 10k majorities have been reduced to marginal seats. Poor Dosanjh scraped through with how many votes?

    We will certainty be destroyed if we continue the same course. We must show that we are prepared to fight on behalf of our voters. That we deserve to be the Opposition. Hopefully, the new leader and his team will be seen as capable of leading the country.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 5:35 PM  

  • There is a lot of discussion on the finance pages about what to do with Chrysler: merge with GM, Nissan could buy a piece, or let if die a natural death.

    The Liberals have similar options. They can either merge with the other socialist parties for electoral support or continue to have the 4 to 1 advantage in spending and the debates.

    The Conservatives were in the same position. There was a stalemate between Reform and the PC party that would still be splitting the right wing vote if they had not merged.

    It is ultimately harmful when party members have loyalty to a party name rather than party policy or ideology. Again this kept the conservatives from merging far longer than it should have. If you agree with the Greens and NDP on even 30% of issues you will be appealing to the 70% that lean to the left. The trouble of course is having all those core supporters (that are usually the most energetic) being hung up on the name of the party instead. Would you switch from Liberal if the policies were aligned 70% with the Greens? What if your Liberals do not have a firm grasp of what they do believe in? Is it easier to switch or must the Liberal name remain?

    Proportional representation is a bad idea. Almost worse than first past the post because we create perpetual unstable minority governments like many European countries. We are far better served by having run off elections or transferable ballots. Some would say run offs are a waste of time, but really only the first election with runoffs would have a huge number of them. In follow up elections there would be far fewer "pretenders" like the Greens and NDP and Bloc.

    I won't get started and how badly the Quebec Bloc vote has screwed up Canadian election results for the past few decades. Federal parties need to run in almost every riding.

    One more thing. Every election the media tells me that negative campaigns don't work and yet we are seeing that they did. hmmm

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:54 PM  

  • Good stuff, CG.

    Nice to see some meat on the bone of this 308 strategy of yours. :)

    So... to all of those people - myself included - who say that this sort of thing is exactly what we need to do:

    Why aren't we doing it? I mean, yes - canvassing between elections would be nice. Why aren't we doing it? What's stopping us?

    Is this like saying we want to be environmentally friendly until such a time as it costs us anything?

    Where is the motivation going to come from?

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 6:13 PM  

  • "Another long monologue from Hose. I must say that I was amused at the way you switched between confidence in a harper majority and a rationalization of a dion victory."

    I suggested a majority was possible based on the polls, and seat projection models, not that it was a certain outcome. That is not the same as having absolute confidence in a majority government.

    "A decent and balanced person like Joe Clarke would already have won a majority. Instead, vast numbers of voters are willing to resist Harper."

    Decent and balanced Joe Clark has had the following election results (the first two of which took place in a 2.5 party system, and would have been lower in a 5 party system like we have now)

    1979: 35.89%
    1980: 32.45%
    2000: 12.2%

    But what if Clark had a united right behind him in 2000, and all Alliance voters went with Clark. You would get 38% of the vote - or the same total that the supposedly immoderate Harper got. It doesn't sound like a stretch to suggest that the folks Harper is picking up are many of the same folks that went for Clark in 2000.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:16 PM  

  • Sir John,

    You must have been very disappointed in harper. He blew the majority. Any chance of a change in leadership?


    Not at all. In a matter of only five years, Stephen Harper has pulled together the two wings of Canada's right-of-centre movement, neither of whom had a chance at government and were loathe to even speak to one another, to the doorstep of a majority government.

    I am certain history will view Stephen Harper's record as Conservative leader as nothing short of remarkable and he alone will be credited with re-establishing the right in Canada as a permanent, viable, national coalition.

    So if you're asking if there's a chance of changing leadership, I would say, quite emphatically, no.

    Harper has single-handedly reduced the Liberal Party of Canada to a rump of urbanites in a pair of eastern Canadian cities, while firmly entrenching his party in the cushy centre-right of Canadian politics, where the Liberals used to dominate.

    By Blogger sir john a., at 6:25 PM  

  • Demosthenes-

    Dean's strategy started paying off in 2006, and it's worked like a charm so far in 2008. Engagement can be like a snowball: people who are engaged can bring other people in, who bring other people in, and pretty soon you've got that gigantic MyBO fundraising database.

    That entirely depends on the situation we have here. Part of the reason so many of these voters gave the Democrats a look was because of how badly and corrupt the Republicans had/have become. Thus, how quickly such a plan would work- and it definitely would- is at least partially dependent on what middle of the road Canadians (the ones who are going Conservative in greater numbers now) think of Harper and the Tories.

    Building a serious presence is a big part of it, though in uncompetitive ridings, the incumbent party doing something to piss voters off enough to look at their other options is a big part of determining when this will pan out, or how quickly I guess.

    By Blogger BCT 2.0, at 7:28 PM  

  • "Which brings me to my next point – get an f’ing message."

    This, in my opinion, should be the first point, not the last. Perhaps in combination with figuring out what the Liberal Party actually stands for.

    All the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth since October 14 seems to be centred on "How do we get back into power?", which merely reinforces the perception that the LPC is ONLY about being in power.

    Sorry, that's not enough. I want to see principled policies developed through an open process. I want to see candidates who have taken the time to think through their positions, and with the cojones to disagree with the leadership if necessary.

    Frankly, I DON'T care who the leader is, since I DON'T get to vote for him or her (unless by some fluke he or she is my MP). I want to vote for a principled party that I can have faith in, that concerns itself with issues beyond how to get itself re-elected.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:46 PM  

  • The short version:

    The Liberal Party of Canada is ideologically and financially bankrupt. They have no policy and no message. They have no grassroots support (ie. average canadians) and their sacred cows that afforded them a winning coalition over the past century (ethnic communities, women, urban) are systematically becoming the sacred cows of the conservative party.

    Which begs the question, Dan: if you don't know why you vote Liberal or should donate time or money to the party, - how on earth do you go about convincing everyone else that they should?

    By Blogger Brian Grenya, at 11:32 PM  

  • “ It doesn't sound like a stretch to suggest that the folks Harper is picking up are many of the same folks that went for Clark in 2000.”

    Hose

    Well! You can't really compare 1980 with 2005. It was possible for a Joe Cool to get a majority in 2005. I know of one vote that harper didn't get in 2005, and will never get.

    “Harper has single-handedly reduced the Liberal Party of Canada to a rump of urbanites in a pair of eastern Canadian cities, while firmly entrenching his party in the cushy centre-right of Canadian politics, where the Liberals used to dominate.”

    Hmmm! I thought that it was because of Adscam in 2005 and dion in 2008. Anyway, everyone knows that PMSH is a brilliant strategist. He proved it in Quebec!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:36 PM  

  • These are all great ideas that will help strengthen the party, but completely discounts that election campaigns play any role in the election of a government. Voters really don’t care how many workers a riding has for a particular party or how many memberships there are in a riding (although these can obviously help).

    History shows that over time people get tired of incumbent governments, with so many people strongly opposed to Harper and the Liberals strong brand, we can just be in the right place at the right time and we will form government in the next election.

    What the party needs to do is elect a non-polarizing leader. Go policy by policy through the platform and ask, how does this play in the west, Ontario, Quebec, rural and urban Canada. If a policy can’t get support across the board then we need to dump it or put it on the back burner.

    People say we lost because we don’t stand for anything, are not realizing that because we are centrist, we stand for good government that is willing to take good policies from both the left and right of the spectrum. It can be that simple.

    By Blogger DeanC, at 12:40 AM  

  • Very good ideas.

    The only facet of the Harper gambit that has not been addressed is the Harper/Reform use of the religious base.

    Many Liberals and liberals are people of faith. Perhaps not a lot of 'end-timers' but people of faith. Ministers of a liberal bent should take note of this and point out how freedoms, rights and choice ARE supported by Scripture and the free will God gave man.

    It is time for free people to take back some religious thought.

    Look how the doomsday group and end-timers are doing with McCain and Palin down south to see how that dead-end scenario is working. People want hope, not death's door platitudes and pleas to righteousness in the face of an Armaggedon that has been predicted for many dates for over 2,000 years.

    Of note, and in the same vein, Canada's aboriginal people are being ignored by all parties. Their religion as a whole is not Christian but more spiritual. Liberals can point out that the Liberal party embraces hope for all people.

    Just my two cents.

    Thanks, 2cents

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:00 AM  

  • A humble suggestion:

    Perhaps CG et al should simply ignore H2H, Grenya and Sir John A? Not only have they been relentlessly repeating Tory talking points on every liberal blog out there, and are self-admitted tories, but they have quite literally nothing useful to add to this sort of discussion.

    The first step for the Liberals is admitting they have a problem. but the SECOND step is realizing what the Dems had such a hell of a hard time realizing: that you do not need to win the affection of those who wish you ill.

    They're useless, irrelevant, and best ignored.

    jim: don't be the one guy who still thinks the Liberals' problems are about leadership. The issues started with Martin. Hell, arguably they started with Chretien, but they were papered over by Chretien's adept exploitation of the Reform/PC division.

    bct: the fortunate thing is that the Republicans' failures were not execution. They were intrinsic to the contradictions within the ideology itself. Since Harper is a slavish adherent to said ideology...

    ...well, let's just say he'd better hope that money tree doesn't wilt. He's probably going to need an awful lot of "strong leadership" ads to make up for what's coming.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 2:35 AM  

  • deanc: customizing your policies to try to appeal to every region in the country is almost certainly a loser.

    Neither the 50-state strategy nor a 308-riding strategy comes from a futile attempt to create top-down policy that you think will appeal to everybody. It comes from building from the ground up. Let the riding associations tell you what policies matter to their ridings. If you do it right, they'll know.

    And once again, dean, a desperate lurch to the "center" (whatever that is) is not the solution. It was a dismal failure for the Democrats, it invites Harper to simply redefine where the center is, and it will thoroughly piss over whoever you tossed overboard.

    After all, what will you jettison? Social security? Health care? Education? Defense? Forget the babble about "wasteful spending": who are you willing to hurt in your futile attempt to "position" yourself?

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 2:43 AM  

  • Liberals should wake up and smell the coffee. They need PR as badly as the smaller parties. They have zero credibility on the left and are going to become less and less relevant unless they support electoral reform. Under a proportional system, their centrist style would go a long way in coalition politics.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:43 AM  

  • demosthenes:

    Do you know why your party is where is, obliterated outside two traditional fortresses, unable to raise money, and on a three-election streak of losing support?

    It's partly the arrogance you demonstrate when you say the opposition is best ignored.

    Yes, I am a Tory. Yes, I want the Liberals to lose. But you use those facts alone as the reasons why I am best ignored.

    In fact, it is people like me the Liberals need to court. The message you espouse gives the impression there's no home for anyone in the Liberal party who doesn't adhere to the party's failed principles that have gotten them in the mess they're in.

    How do you think the Canadian Alliance got to where they are today? By "ignoring those who wish you ill?" The Clark Tories HATED the Day Alliance and wanted nothing more than for them to disappear. But that approach doesn't work. The two only found success when they realized the other option was perpetual opposition.

    But by all means, please continue only listening to the ideas of those who are responsible for the failures of the Liberal Party.

    By Blogger sir john a., at 12:18 PM  

  • The Liberals are today where the Canadian Alliance was in 2000.

    Their policies, culture and behaviour are ridiculous to a great majority of Canadians, and the few that realise it can't figure out why.

    But there's obviously hope because the Alliance figured it out, and transformed itself. The Liberals can to.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 12:55 PM  

  • John, I'm drawing on the experience and insight of the last 6 years of American netroots development.

    And, yes, part of that insight is "ignore the trolls".

    No, you are not the kind of person the Liberals need to court. Your mind is made up. Your opinions are obvious. Your jollies come from trolling Liberal blogs. You are like Harper's infamous "Zoe" for the Liberals: simply not worth the time and effort.

    (The fact that you are ignorant and short-sighted enough to call liberal, progressive principles "failed" is proof enough of that. Remember Newt? Neither does anybody else.)

    You would not be tolerated by Kos, Atrios, digby, Josh Marshall, Huffpo, or MyDD, nor anybody else in the American netroots. You don't even have the courage to start and maintain your own site, and let turnabout be fair play.

    You are not "the opposition". You and your ilk are just common trolls. Best ignored. Best forgotten.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 12:58 PM  

  • Let me try to pull everything together.

    There is a clear call for a leader who is the agent of the members. The NDP is like that. And, it is possible for a small party with a narrow political spectrum to have binding policy resolutions. The problem is that it ties the leader's hands. He is unable to widen the organization's political base. Jack Layton has a problem.

    On the other hand, Harper has made a deal with the rightists. He is able to gag them most of the time. But, that means he's got no one else. He's a one-man show during the elections and he can't campaign effectively in Quebec.

    Even the most brilliant political strategist is crippled when he doesn't have an effective ground game. In Ontario, harper had stephane campaigning for him.

    Harper's dead meat when there is a credible opposition that can hit him from several directions simultaneously. He didn't even think that he needed a platform. Therefore, he blundered casually into a funding cut for the arts.

    The agent mandate is always problematic for a centralist party. What would happen if different parts of the party vote for policy resolutions that conflict with each other?

    Look at the instability of coalition governments e.g. Israel. You have got to pander to extremists if you need their votes. Lot's of compromises and changes in policy.

    The LPC handles it by having a struggle at each leadership convention. Winner takes all. The new leader has a mandate to do what he needs to form a national government.

    The problem is that the election degenerates into vote buying when the lead candidates don't focus on national issues. Gerard Kennedy didn't get far because he was keen on party reform. Stephane had a loyal following but polled poorly because of the green shift and himself.

    In the end, the lead candidates didn't have a platform. In fact, Bob Rae tried to say as little as possible. So, Stephane won by default.

    There is a third political dimension. Obama is the clearest example of a charismatic leader. He is the point man for the movement, and he is the movement. Trudeau was something like that. But, he had difficulty balancing a national platform within the Canadian system.

    In this leadership campaign, I will be looking for a person who can align all three dimensions. The leader has to be the champion of the members, win the hearts of the electorate and is pragmatic enough to make deals to get things done. There will be magic when all dimensions are aligned.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 2:03 PM  

  • You would not be tolerated by Kos, Atrios, digby, Josh Marshall, Huffpo, or MyDD, nor anybody else in the American netroots.

    I have no idea what any of those sites are.

    You don't even have the courage to start and maintain your own site, and let turnabout be fair play.

    It's not about courage. If I were to have a blog, I'd like to be like CGs, which he obviously puts a lot of thought and research and time into. Some of us don't have that luxury.

    And if you're disqualifying people's opinions because they don't have their own blogs, then you've got bigger problems than being a Liberal.

    Unplug.

    By Blogger sir john a., at 3:27 PM  

  • Demo: the fortunate thing is that the Republicans' failures were not execution. They were intrinsic to the contradictions within the ideology itself. Since Harper is a slavish adherent to said ideology...

    Note to senior Liberals: please, please continue to believe both of these things.

    Oh, and if you really want to win, be sure to tell Canadians that everyone disagrees with you is a troll...

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 1:22 AM  

  • I have no idea what any of those sites are.

    And that, friend, is why you have nothing to offer. They are, almost to a site, vibrant progressive communities that marshall progressive money, interest, and volunteers. They are the heart of the so-called 'netroots'. They are a real and growing constituency within the Democratic party.

    And they'd toss your trolling ass out in a second.

    There is a model to follow, a successful one, one that has raised millions of dollars and motivated thousands of people. And listening to the "helpful advice" of the opposition isn't part of it.

    (Learn from them, yes. Tactics, strategy, all of that. But only an idiot would take their advice.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:45 AM  

  • oh, and invisible hand, the Republican ideology really has failed. Spectacularly. One would have to be almost as ignorant of the world outside of Canada as "Sir John A" there to believe that.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:47 AM  

  • I was referring more to whether it's a matter of "execution" or "intrinsic contradictions".

    BTW, if Republican losses in 2006 and (probably) 2008 are proof that Republican ideology has failed, are Liberal losses in those same years proof that Liberal ideology has failed?

    Oh, and please explain to us why you believe Sir John A. is a "troll", as opposed to expressing his honest opinions on a blog that welcomes open and frank discussion (to your apparent chagrin).

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 3:10 AM  

  • As usual, sage advice from a smart Liberal.

    Too bad the overwhelming majority of your fellow partisans prefer to simply howl in outrage at the radical neo-conservatism of Stephen Harper than actually, you know, do any of the hard work necessary to put the Liberal Party back into a competitive decision.

    By Blogger ALW, at 11:24 AM  

  • “BTW, if Republican losses in 2006 and (probably) 2008 are proof that Republican ideology has failed, are Liberal losses in those same years proof that Liberal ideology has failed?”

    Invisible,

    You are way off. The Republics are discredited by systemic failures. Even before the latest financial crisis, the vast majority of Americans thought that the country was headed in the wrong direction.

    With the global financial meltdown, the 'invisible hand' is being challenged. The 'invisible hand' is no longer welcome in Washington DC. Alan Greenspan says that he discovered a 'flaw' in free trade.

    Currently, 80% of Americans think that the country is headed in the wrong direction. That is why Obama is so important. He represents a moderate version of change. He is the alternative to a Depression-style swing to the left.

    No such crisis of confidence exists in Canada, though the Conservatives are trying to make a big thing out of crime. The Liberals were ousted in 2005 because they had behaved like irresponsible louts instead of noble liberals. That allowed the right to move into the vacuum in the centre.

    The Democrats in Congress will more closer to a 2/3 majority. The harperites still command only 36% of the votes.

    By Blogger JimTan, at 11:35 AM  

  • Check out the 12th comment in the October 21st post.

    HosertoHoosier has an amazing explanation as to why equating Harper to Bush/Republicans is inherently flawed.

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=6901354&postID=161104535028758841

    (In my opinion the only thing that Harper has in common with the Republicans that the Liberals do not is that the Liberals are not the most right-wing party in its nation.)

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 12:16 PM  

  • "The Democrats in Congress will more closer to a 2/3 majority. The harperites still command only 36% of the votes."

    You are right that it is a bad comparison - the Republicans would have a "majority government" (congress + the presidency) if there were three parties on the left, splitting the Dem vote as is the case in Canada.

    It strikes me that the problem the Liberals face - and I apologize if this is trolling, or part of an orchestrated Conservative plot - is that the dominant cleavages in Canadian politics have changed since 1988. However, that was not apparent because of the split in the right, and so the Liberals figured they were still the natural majority party. To here is my historical narrative:

    Politics in Canada have historically been regional, and dominated by two cleavages: export efficient vs. export inefficient regional economies and French vs. English. The Liberals were the party of a big, united, global Canada - they favoured trade with the US and reconciliation of the two solitudes. The Tories were the party of protectionism and outdated anglophilia.

    Shock 1 was Diefenbaker, who turned the Tories from a Toronto-centric party, to one that had a lot on large numbers of seats in the west. He did this in part by opening up a third option for wheat export - China and the USSR, but also through appeals to that region. In this environment, the Tories could occasionally win a minority government by running the tables in English Canada, but the Liberal fortress Quebec ensured victory most of the time. In 1972, for instance, Stanfield or Lewis won every province and territory outside of Quebec, but Trudeau was able to hang on.

    Trudeau's national energy program deepened resistance to the Liberals in the west, while his constitution created an opening for the Tories in Quebec. However, the Mulroney coalition (this should be a lesson to "campaign 308 seats") was inherently unstable - dislike of Pierre Trudeau is not a unifying theme for a government. Mulroney got a second mandate by using free trade to divide the left, but in doing so fundamentally changed Canadian politics (it is worth noting that Pearson's auto pact put in motion these things, so it is more gradual than most consider it to be).

    Why? Canada as a regional country used to have an economic basis. The wheat exporting west is the most pro-American part of the country in part because they produce export competitive goods (wheat, oil, and lumber), which they would sell to the US, if it weren't for tariffs (pre-1988). Ontario and Quebec have traditionally produced industrial goods - automobiles and aircraft. The latter have actually done well by free trade, which has been more about intra-industry trade than of the "comparative advantage" type. Nonetheless, free trade eliminated inefficient producers and their workers, and thus removed the regional-economic cleavage.

    That cleavage was the glue that held together big majority parties in Canada - it was an inherently two-party kind of question (for or against protectionism).The big parties could no longer hold back the tide of regional-identity parties - the Bloc and Reform, which shot onto the scene. The Liberals only won majorities by winning almost every seat in Ontario (the one province whose regional identity is not especially distinct from its national one). Canadian politics were about centralization vs. decentralization, with the Liberals facing regional contests across the country from parochial parties. Even the NDP gained some small breath under Alexa by becoming more of a regional party and less of a class-based party.

    The final act in our sage was the uniting of the PC and Reform parties, a move that ended regional politics as a major cleavage in English Canada by creating a big tent - old PC's, Reformers, and the Common Sense Revolution. Their unifying concept comes from the latter, however. It is social class, and specifically the middle class (as opposed to the working class, where the Tories also have some support; and the upper middle class, where the Tories have less). Only Quebec politics remain about centralization-decentralization questions.

    In defining where the Liberals should sit, far too many people (I am guilty of this myself) have been talking about ideology. Canadians are not ideological people. Canadian politics is not about ideology - that is precisely why the Harper-Bush line was not as effective as it might have been.

    Class as the basis of Canadian politics should be frightening because it is an arena where the Conservatives can win a majority, and, if they successfully define themselves as "the middle class" party, they can be the natural majority. Moreover, in that sort of arena, the NDP, not the Liberals, are the natural opposition. Look at Britain, where what was urban-rural (Liberal-Conservative) competition at first (before the suffrage was enlarged) became class competition
    that has made the Liberal party an NDP-like also-ran.

    The Green shift played right into this game. Urban upper-middle class folks care a lot of the environment and foot far fewer of the costs of solving environmental problems, because they live in smaller homes, have access to alternatives to cars, and can afford green appliances and such.

    When I suggest the Liberals need to tack to the center, I mean they need to protect themselves from being made out to be the "elitist/chattering class party", similar to how Obama has done that with his tax credits for the middle class (though hopefully with fewer deficit-causing implications).

    They need to build a broader coalition OUTSIDE the parameters of the game that a united right has created because they will continue to lose if Canadian politics are about class identity. Canadians don't vote based on how many economists signed such-and-such a document.

    So policy-wise, you need to flank yourself from Stephen Harper, by largely following his core message (don't say you'll scrap the $100/month childcare, etc.). Then you need some other policy that changes the question to one the Liberals can win on. It can't just be "which is the best party for the job?" Canadians will ask that any way, that is why there is variance within any paradigm.

    The core questions voters have asked in the past have been:
    -"which party stands up for my region's economic interests?"
    -"which party reflects my region?"
    -"which party represents guys like me?"

    I have suggested before that making age a cleavage is do-able and good strategy, because if you move first, you can capture younger folks, making them more likely to vote for you in the future. Obama has captured the support of young voters not just by embracing new technology, not just by his own youth, but by talking to their issues and demand for inspirational "we are the world" (if empty) rhetoric. My generation is, after all, the generation of captain Planet.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 12:59 PM  

  • Dem and Jimtan, entertaining, strident, and the fundamental reason the Liberals are dying out.

    The Liberal party has gotten away with saying things that are demonstrably untrue for so long they actually have started to believe the lies. The electorate outside of Toronto and Montreal doesnt buy the malarkey anymore.

    Keep up with the scary harper as a republican stooge and you will give Harper his majority.

    Honestly Dem, you are truly an asshat.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:47 PM  

  • Demosthenes,
    Its not about coming up customized policies that will appeal to certain regions, its about dumping the toxic ones. People who have never lived in Alberta have no clue what the NEP did to the Liberal brand in Alberta. The green shift was NEP2, I will explain it because it is pretty clear that most outside SK & AB are clueless why. SK & AB are have provinces that contribute to equalization because of oil, gas and coal resources. Because we are carbon rich we generate out electricity with carbon, thus we are the worst 2 provinces wrt carbon footprint per capita. What does a carbon tax do? Where does that money go? =>Ottawa, so yes it is a double whammy on equalization. Gille Ducept even hit on it in the English debate that AB and SK should pay more, he can play that wedge, his province generates over 90% of their electricity with carbonless hydro.

    Other problems are gun control and the perception we are funneling money into Toronto infrastructure and housing. Harper wedges these 3 issues against us and he has done well for himself doing it.

    Issues like Medicare, education, child care, tax relief, debt reduction, jobs all have broad appeal across the country and are a mix of left/right ideology. We can be centrist and have broad appeal.

    As to the 308 strategy, last I checked we are not the US, I think Canadians share more in common with one another than Americans do with other Americans. Also, because they are a 2 party system it is entirely us vs them, we don’t have that problem.

    By Blogger DeanC, at 2:34 PM  

  • H2h, an interesting analysis. I agree especially with the penultimate paragraph relating to the questions voters ask in determining how to cast their ballots.

    I think the analysis vis-a-vis "class" identification is a bit problematic, mainly because "working class" is, more often than not, "middle class". How do YOU make the distinction? MOST people in Canada are working class, whether they identify as such or not, but mostly hold middle class values. I think that is why the whole "left-right" paradigm doesn't truly resonate here as it does, say in France or even Britain.

    I think "most" Canadians are pragmatists and do vote their specific rather than general interests, as you suggested. There's a lot more "me-ness" than "we-ness". Harper seems to understand this and exploits it, but in my opinion, FWIW, this approach is ultimately damaging to any sense of Canadian identity.

    Ideally, I think Canadians would like to cherry pick the platforms provided by the various parties, which is why p.r., despite some obvious shortcomings, is gaining support, at least in theory.

    Some people illustrate their objections to p.r. by raising the example of Italy's multitudes of governments since the end of WWII. They sort of miss the point; although the actual parliamentary aspect of government has not been stable, the functions and bureaucracy (program delivery) has been relatively stable. NOT perfect, but stable. But I digress...

    In the absence of a pan-Canadian identity, (almost non-existant, IMO, due to cultural/economic dominance from the US), we are reduced to, as you point out, regional interests.

    I think the Liberals have two choices; move further to the "centre" whereever that is (it moves), or work very, very, VERY hard at developing a greater "Canadian" consciousness (that involves much more than economic interests) that they can then claim to represent. Somehow, I suspect that they will take the former choice. It's too bad, really; Canada is a country of frustratingly unrealized potential, mostly due to the parochialism of the various regions which overwhelmingly identify their interests as economic only.

    By Blogger Party of One, at 4:12 PM  

  • Can you rebuild a Party under the leadership of someone who has only been in the Party for 2 years??

    That is what the Liberal Party would have with Rae or Ignatieff.

    Very sad indeed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:57 PM  

  • party of one,

    I tend to think of social class as comprised of two elements - income and post-material values (eg. "quality of life", equality, environment trump economy), so there are four possible combinations. I don't think class is the dominant identity - obviously most people have both class and regional identities - but it is increasing.

    Rich-post material: these are the educated professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc.) that tend towards the Liberal party (but sometimes also vote Conservative out of economic interests). These are the folks a policy like the green shift courts.

    Rich-non post material: the wealthy soul-less suburbanites to some, the entrepreneurial heart of Canada to others. This is obviously a strong constituency for the Conservatives.

    Poor-post material: these are folks that are often educated but slipped through the cracks - a growing group with the rising access and declining payoff for post-secondary education. The guy with a phd in philosophy that works in Chapter's makes up this group. They offer fertile ground for the NDP.

    Poor-non post material: these are the salt-of-the-earth lunch-bucket (or increasingly "do you want fries with that") workers of the world. They are poor, have always been poor, and yet the Conservatives have made inroads here on values issues, but also by focusing tax cuts on the working class. Of course a lot of these voters vote NDP as well.

    A proportional representation system would reduce regional voices (since there would be no special incentive to push for votes in one region at a cost to another), but increase the salience of class divisions (look at European parties for a good example of that).

    Why? PR fosters more parties by reducing the entry barriers for new parties. Big tent parties become unable to sustain broad coalitions internally because it is easy for narrow interests to enter the political arena and "outbid" the big tent party among some swathe of its voters. So if you had some party that balanced the interests of the middle class and farmers, it would be easy for a farmer party to emerge and advocate policies that were great for farmers and bad for the middle class.

    The most stable agglomeration of economic interests is by social class, at least under the class formulation I presented above (I would predict four parties roughly similar to my class formula above).

    I am not sure we are better off with class-based parties than regional ones. Canada is a fiscally moderate country in part because its representatives are united by regional economic interests, which tend to be industry-level interests. So, if you are on Ontario MP, you want what is best for the auto industry. Some issues, like anything involving energy, become divisive to the nation. Others, like class conflict, are far less pronounced in Canada as they are in Europe, or in the US (where they take place mostly in the form of racial tensions). Nonetheless, it is a tradeoff that PR advocates would do well to consider.

    PS: another possibility is that both class and region would come to define parties, so you might get something like an 8-party system. The issue being that there may be strong divisions both in terms of class and region (industry) in Canada.

    So a pro-energy party might be able to win votes in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland (uniting workers and capitalists in the energy sector). A farmer's party might win in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. In those cases the specific tie-in to a particular industry trumps any common class interest they might have with other parties. If that did happen, Canada would be more likely to fall into the pattern of Italian-style ineffectiveness.*

    *Italy's problem is too many parties. Those parties are organized into two camps, that are usually about equal in strength. As a result small, parochial, extremist factions can have a big impact by switching sides or leaving a coalition (as happened to the Prodi government).

    Mancur Olson's Logic of Collective action tells us that it is always easier to maintain a cartel with fewer, large actors than with many small ones.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:08 PM  

  • deanc,
    "As to the 308 strategy, last I checked we are not the US, I think Canadians share more in common with one another than Americans do with other Americans. Also, because they are a 2 party system it is entirely us vs them, we don’t have that problem."

    Canadians are ideologically moderate, but regionally, our interests diverge making a 308 strategy far from feasible. Moreover, Canadians are not ideology voters, so one can't rely on ideological fellow-feeling as a party.

    Compromises that benefit multiple regions will not lead to electoral success because parochial/regional parties can always outbid you. For instance, you can make some grand compromise on energy that makes things better for both producers and consumers (yes, this is a VERY hypothetical question). Yet, if the Conservatives can offer more to producers in Alberta, and the Bloc Quebecois can offer more to energy consumers in Quebec, voters in neither region get the better deal by voting for you.

    Because there are 5 parties, and low entry barriers for regional parties (with caps on donations and election spending it is easier to become competitive) it is going to be difficult to outbid others across Canada - the same would likely be true in a class politics system.

    You may be able to "change the question" by raising or lowering the salience of one cleavage or another - but I don't think there is any that offers an opening for a party of national compromise.

    *********************************
    One random projection into the future, by the way, that stresses the urgency of reform for the Liberal party (this is from Ekos' very large election survey)

    Voters <25
    CPC: 22
    LPC: 19
    NDP: 26
    Green: 16
    Bloc: 18

    Voters 65+
    CPC: 44
    LPC: 28
    NDP: 16
    Bloc: 4

    Among young voters the Liberals barely passed the Bloc Quebecois. They did best among pre-boomers, who are starting to die off. The Conservatives face a similar threat, but are saved by having done better with generation X.

    The stark difference in how people of different ages voted should suggest, as I have been saying, that age is an under-exploited division. Some will say "oh but they'll start voting Lib/Con when they get older..." I am less sure - right now age markers fit well with generational divisions (10 years ago they would be very muddled - if you look at the 2000 exit polls from the US election, for instance, age doesn't seem to matter, whereas it definitely does in current polls). Historically in the US, early boomers were consistently fairly liberal, while late boomers and Gen X'ers were consistently fairly conservative.

    What are the values of millenials? How do you pander to them? How do you reach them? How do you prevent the 2048 election from producing an NDP-Bloc governing coalition?

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:37 PM  

  • hosertohoosier,
    You make it seem like a 308 strategy is an impossible dream yet that is exactly what the conservatives have done to us. They took their offensive bible policies and their privatization agenda and swept them under the carpet and it worked. Outside of a successful ABC campaign in Nfld and N.S., Harper would have his majority if not for his miscalculation on Culture in Que. For being a party of western extremists why are they more representative of Canada wrt electorate than the Libs? The only glaring weakness the Cons have right now is success in the big 3 cities and I think they are content to concede those ridings to the 4 left wing parties.

    As to age demographics Winston Churchill put it pretty well. Not an exact quote but the meaning is there “If you are young and you are not a liberal then you have no heart, if you are old and not a conservative then you have no brain.” I think the idea of trying to get voters for life is pretty silly, most people are not partisan and just vote the issues.

    As to your comment of “putting more on the table for a region”, the Cons didnt take all but 2 ridings in SK and AB because they put more on the table, they didn’t put anything significant on the table for us, but they also had the least offensive platform for us as well.

    By Blogger DeanC, at 6:20 PM  

  • The Tories don't have a 308 strategy - they accepted they will lose in 75 urban ridings cities, Newfoundland and big parts of Quebec. I'd call it more like a 200 riding strategy.

    Well when I say "age" I should say generations. Different cohorts of people, growing up with common formative experiences often do develop consistent value sets, beyond their changing economic interests as they age. So it isn't so much that you get 18-25 voters for life, more that you get "millenials" for life.

    **********************************

    Example.. 1976 election (I have turned people's age into the years they were born)
    Average: Dem +4 (sometimes the whole country swings one way or another, I'm interested in whether, ceteris paribus, certain age groups are consistently more Republican or Democrat)
    1955-1958: (late boomers) GOP +3
    1947-1954: (boomers) DEM +12
    1932-1946: (pre-boomers) DEM +4
    1917-1931: (GI generation) GOP +4
    before 1917: GOP +4

    1988 election
    Average: GOP +9
    1959-1970 (late boom/gen X): GOP +6
    1944-1958 (boomers): GOP +8
    1929-1943 (pre-boomers): GOP+16
    pre-1929 (GI generation): GOP+2

    2000 election
    Average: DEM + 0.5
    1976-1982 (gen Y): tie
    1971-1975 (gen X): DEM+3
    1951-1970 (boomers): GOP+2
    Pre-1950 (early boomers + old): DEM+4

    2004 election
    Average: GOP + 2.5
    1980-1986 (gen Y) DEM +13
    1975-1979 (gen X) DEM +3
    1955-1974 (late boom+X) GOP+6
    1940-1954 (early boom) GOP+5
    65+ (pre-boomers) GOP+5

    **********************************
    Pattern
    GI: Republican -> Democrat
    Pre-boomer: Democrat-> Republican
    boomer: Democrat -> Republican
    GEN X: Republican -> Democrat
    GEN Y: independent -> strong Democrat

    Conclusion:
    1. People do not get more conservative as they get older.
    2. Different cohorts react differently to events.
    3. You can largely hold onto support for a given cohort. For instance, the Republican lead among baby boomers was likely secured by the disappointment of the Carter administration and relative success of the Reagan administration. The "lessons" imprinted into their generation's psyche were: military buildups defeated communism and tax cuts saved the economy.
    4. There is a fair amount of variance in cohort effects (some can be explained by the changing date of birth years - generational markers are rough).
    5. Since no parties make particularly explicit appeals to generations, and there are nonetheless large gaps in partisan affiliation by age, there is an opening to make such appeals. For instance, many young Americans vote Democrat even though they do not benefit from the social security system. Old people vote Republican even though the Democrats would do more about healthcare costs, etc.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:55 PM  

  • A random addendum regarding class:

    Some may take issue at the inclusion of post-material values as part of class. Allow me to explain: people with high earning potential often take jobs that pay less than alternatives, but have quality-of-life perks. I want to be a professor - professors are well-paid, but phd's can earn higher returns in the private sector. Nonetheless, they work longer hours, have less freedom, etc. The thing about my [future] quality-of-life perks is that they are un-taxable.

    By contrast, plumbers can make a lot of money (apparently $250,000), but return home drained and exhausted. The entire sum of their reward (assuming they don't have a love of pipes) is taxable.

    This is why lower middle class voters are increasingly a constituency for low taxes, while upper middle class voters are increasingly not.

    Post-material values are a good proxy for one's tendency to pursue quality-of-life perks (since in the world value survey questions involving such perks are involved).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 7:22 PM  

  • deanc, don't you find the characterization of the Conservative party's founding members as "extremists" to be a little insulting?

    If they qualify as extremists, what term can you use to describe those further to the political right, such as libertarians, Christian Heritage Party, US Republicans (or even Democrats for that matter), etc?

    And again, by labelling them as extremists, how then can you distinguish them from hate groups such as the KKK, Nazis, those that kill abortion doctors, and so on?

    Or do you actually intend to group them all together? If so, do you find that insulting?

    And is it really feasible to group such a large part of the population as being "extreme"? If enough people qualify, can it even still be called "extreme"? So if my IQ is in the top 20%, does that make me "extremely" intelligent? If my weight is in the top 20%, am I "extremely" obese? (Granted, I'm choosing 20% quite arbitrarily).

    Is there any room at all for some gradations between your current beliefs and these "extreme" beliefs? Unless you're very far right-wing, that should be the case. Isn't it more appropriate to consider Preston Manning (for example) in one of those many gradations between your beliefs and true extremists?

    Food for thought.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 12:54 PM  

  • First, I'm intensely amused at the, what, fifteen pages of comments by a self-proclaimed conservative talking about how to fix the Liberals?

    (Not as much as Captain Asshat up there, but anyway...)

    H2H: I'm not going to attempt to respond to that whole entire infodump. Honestly, you should probably have just posted that on your own blog and linked to it.

    Still, yes, post-materialism does have an effect on class. Anybody who's read Thomas Frank's "what's the matter with Kansas" knows that. Non-materialistic issues (like abortion) have been deployed by the religious right in the U.S. for decades now in order to get people to rail against an illusory "cultural elite" instead of against the actual financial elites. It's not just an American thing, either; the British Conservatives get a lot of traction through their social appeals to "Little Britain".

    (Which tend towards the xenophobic, but anyway...)

    But it can be and usually is overstated. Krugman noted this in his most recent book, where he pointed out that while the South tends to vote Republican, it's the middle-upper-class males that reliably vote that way. Lower-income people tend to vote as you'd expect: reliably progressive. It's just that they either don't or can't vote. (If they're immigrants, for example).

    That said, H2H, that presumption of Republicans leading among baby boomers is one hell of a presumption. I know I've said it before, but I'll repeat: the Republican party is facing extinction. Look at the poll tracker on TPM. The brand is collapsing everywhere. The Senate will likely get 60 Dems, even without Lieberman. The presidential candidate might well be beaten in a landslide. and the House, well, you don't mention the house. For better or worse, Reagan is well and truly dead.

    And the reason for this is not because of a collapse of religious fundamentalism. It's because of a collapse of market fundamentalism. You've got Alan Greenspan, the arch-Objectivist, admitting that the free market screwed up. You've got third-world countries where the fiscally-responsible (yet progressive) governments are bailing out the private sector banks.

    If you were right in that earlier entry about Harper "loving free markets", what's going to happen when the entire world decides to spurn that love?

    (I doubt regionalism would help him that much. American politics has its own deep cleavages, and regional divisions are very real in America too.)

    And as for the 308 strategy, again, it wouldn't be about shifting policy. The 50-state strategy wasn't either. It'd be about connecting with local progressives (and, yes, centrists) and giving them the tools they need to bring the party and its philosophy to their communities. A "bottom-up" philosophy would not only help insulate the party against those (convenient) charges of "elitism" by eliminating the one real extent to which it is elitist, it'd contrast itself well against the domineering style of Harper's Party.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:16 PM  

  • By the by, H2H you ARE aware that your argument implies that Canada will end up with some sort of small-"l" liberal government in the near-to-mid-term future, right? You mentioned that "bloc/NDP coalition", and assuming that the Liberals manage to stick around, it would seem that the conservatives are in deep trouble.

    (Unless, of course, the "center" simply moves in a more progressive direction. Which is why trying to "move to the center" is impossible. You'll never catch it, and the opposition will carve up up as you try. Dems took 12 years figuring that one out.)

    Robert: Not sure about dean, but I have no problem whatsoever calling conservatives "extremists". If they warrant it.

    And, yeah, anybody saying progressive "policies, culture and behaviour are ridiculous to a great majority of Canadians" is an "extremist". Delusional, too.

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 1:22 PM  

  • Wow, good thing I never said that.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 1:54 PM  

  • "...and assuming that the Liberals manage to stick around, it would seem that the conservatives are in deep trouble..."

    I do think it is a problem for the Conservatives as well, though they have more time, with fair leads (7 points) among boomer and generation X voters. Their problem is more perpetual minority government (Gen Y won't be dominant for another 30 years, once the boomers begin to die off - when that does happen, given the low birth rate, gen Y will exhibit strong dominance over Canadian politics).

    The emergence of gen Y onto the scene, if gen Y continues as it is, means an even more divided left.

    Lets kill off 10% of the population with the pre-boomer pattern and add 10% wit the gen Y pattern (using Ekos' poll as the average - noting that the Conservatives did 3 points better in reality, a shy Tory effect).

    CPC: 32.6
    LPC: 25
    NDP: 20.4
    Green: 10.5
    BQ: 11.2

    The Conservative margin is reduced slightly from 8.4 to 7.6, but the Liberals are down to critical levels of support at which they could easily see themselves surpassed by the NDP. Those numbers would have produced similar results to the 2006 election, but with the Liberals at ~80 seats (a level they surely don't want to stay at) and the NDP at over 40. If you (3 point) account for the undercounting of Conservatives by Angus Reid you get a result closer to the 2008 election.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 3:54 PM  

  • Robert,
    Simply put, if someone is not moderate then they must be extreme. Obviously as you indicate where that line falls is subjective, why do you paint my post to be something its not when you clearly think its subjective. I think its people in politics that paint the cons as extremist, just sifting through these blogs the term is out there, sometimes its warranted, most times its not. If you feel slighted as a westerner, I suggest you reread all my previous posts here to gain some context, as I am a westerner too.

    Hosertohoosier,
    “People do not get more conservative as they get older” I don’t know what to say about this, you are entitled to your opinion, but I don’t see the Cons getting their support from young people and they have always done well with seniors.

    While the Cons may not have a 308 strategy, they do have a national strategy. I see the Libs 19.3% in BC, 11.4% in AB, 14.9% in SK and 19.1% in MB for what it is, Westerners don’t feel that the Liberal party best represents their interests and that has to change. Grassroots rebuilding is great, but if we don’t run on a platform that is appealing then there will be no change in the status quo.

    By Blogger DeanC, at 12:39 AM  

  • deanc,

    Okay, I have a better sense of what you are pushing for - you want to see the Liberals as a national party. Hence, they need to appeal to some grouping of people that is not regional. The NDP is more of a national party than the Liberals because their appeal is [partly] class-based. There are richer and poorer provinces, but they all have a working class, and thus a niche for the NDP. Likewise the Conservatives for middle class voters.

    The Liberal response has been to contest the Conservative definition of Canadian politics. Instead, their message is primarily ideological: Stephen Harper is too right wing. Left wing voters should vote for us because we are also left wing (green shift). "Choose your Canada", etc. That IS a national strategy, in theory, there are left wing voters in every region of Canada.

    Why did it fail to galvanize the left? In Quebec, Bloc voters are generally left wing, but also decentralizers. The green shift was a centralizing policy. In English Canada, NDP voters (well many of them) are working class and net losers from the green shift (especially in northern ridings, where the Liberals lost huge numbers of votes - reduced to just Labrador and the Yukon, with a smaller margin in the latter).

    The Liberals are talking about the wrong things (ideology) as organizing principles. As a result they are boxed into taking most of their support from the professional class (rich but postmaterial, so they vote based on values).

    Conclusion:
    -The Liberals can accept that politics in English Canada is about class, and seek out middle class voters by changing their message, policies and leader (preferably not by selecting the descendant of Russian nobility).

    -The Liberals can innovate some way to cobble together different regional coalitions like Mulroney did (for a short time - such coalitions are likely to break down or encourage small party entry).

    -To come up with policies that redefine Canadian politics, pushing more voters to vote on some basis that is not class (or the unity question in Quebec).

    ***********************************

    As for Conservatives always doing better among older voters, I probably should have said that they don't necessarily do better among older voters, and voters don't necessarily grow more Conservative with time.

    For instance: "Support for the Canadian Federal Progressive Conservative Party since 1988: The Impact of Economic Evaluations and Economic Issues" in the Canadian Journal of Political Science vol. 25 No. 1 runs a regression on support for the federal PC party after the 1988 election. Age is not a determining factor.

    Like the United States, different generations respond differently to candidates, platforms and historical change. Above I looked at exit poll data and found that the GI generation, Generation X and Generation Y have all gotten more LIBERAL as they get older. Why?

    In the 80's the Republicans sought to undo many of the New Deal institutions that the GI generation supported (esp. social security). Similarly, the Bush administration killed what was an initial conservative leaning among gen X voters (who are still more conservative than the baby boomers).

    ***********************************

    Now, in Canada the age structure doesn't seem to follow the exact same pattern as in the US (my earlier suggestion on focusing on youth is probably wrong), but it presents a considerable long-term political prize. Why? Population is no longer pyramidical - birth rates have declined and are likely to continue to do so. Because of the baby boom, there is a baby boom echo. Generation X and Generation Y are considerably more numerous than generation post-Y will be.

    Canadians, by decade of birth
    2002-2006: 670,770 (projected 1,207,386 over 9 years)
    1992-2001: 1,540,030
    1982-1991: 1,630,370
    1972-1981: 1,535,645
    1962-1971: 1,916,400
    1952-1961: 1,861,370
    1942-1951: 1,356,510
    1932-1941: 868,190
    1922-1931: 589,180
    before 1922: 191,810

    So, I was wrong about which generation is key, but I think right about how age offers a long-term dynamic that can be exploited. Lets define generations differently (most generations overlap to some extent), focusing on Generation Jones, the MTV (Much Music) generation, and then some as yet undefined generation Y (anecdotally this definition makes more sense to me, the MTV generation being technically proficient, but the last to experience life before the IT boom).

    2008 shares of electorate

    MTV generation (1972-1991): 31.8%
    Generation Jones (1952-1971): 38%
    Early boomers (1942-1951): 13.6%
    Older voters (before 1941): 16.6%

    What about 11 years in the future (I will kill off half the older voters and add Gen Y)?

    2019

    Generation Y: 14.4%
    MTV generation: 29.7%
    Generation Jones: 35.4%
    Early boomers: 12.7%
    Older voters: 7.7%

    Okay and now 20 years into the future (killing off all older voters, and half of the early boomers)

    2028

    Generation Y: 26.5%
    MTV generation: 30.5%
    Generation Jones: 36.4%
    Early boomers: 6.5%

    You start running into problems in 2037 though

    Generation Z: 13.4%
    Generation Y: 30.5%
    MTV generation: 35.1%
    Generation Jones: 21%

    Maybe I am full of wrong about age, or generations being important in charting out a political strategy, and it isn't worth thinking about these things at all. Nonetheless, I do think it is worth considering demography, and how to make sure to hitch the Liberal wagon to a rising star.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 5:39 AM  

  • Hosertohoosier,
    I think we are not far from each other on the statement “seek out middle class voters by changing their message, policies and leader” which to me would best be accomplished by being a centralist party and I think we were there this last election, still leaving the problem that we won 2 seats between AB, SK and MB, take out star candidate Ralph Goodale and that number drops to 1 seat. Now part of the problem was leader and the campaign he ran, that has been addressed in that we will have a new leader next time. The point I have been working on is the policies need massaging, middle class Toronto and middle class on the farm are just as different as lower class Toronto and upper class Toronto.

    I don’t like the idea of using statistical analysis to determine how conservative voters are, that can only be valid if all other factors stay the same. Assuming that discounts that the then current leaders or the campaigns they ran played any part in why people voted for them, or that a platform can move left or right on the spectrum from year to year. I’d put my emphasis on the star over what age demographic he/she falls in.

    By Blogger DeanC, at 7:46 AM  

  • H2H, again, what on earth is motivating this presumption that people's voting choices are fixed at the point of birth (or maturity, I suppose)?

    That might be a workable theory in America, but Canadian political affiliations are notoriously fluid, and even in America you're seeing change in views and partisan identification that simply doesn't fit your theory.

    I like Thomas Kuhn too, and I'm not going to argue with the idea that there's growing progressivism out there, but you're erecting far too elaborate a structure than the foundation warrants.

    One which strips voters of their agency almost completely.

    (Oh, and I thoroughly disagree with this ridiculous notion that the working class would have been hurt by the Green Shift, but that's just one policy, not a political philosophy. Demography did not decide that issue, communications did.)

    Vollman: I quote:

    Robert Vollman said...

    The Liberals are today where the Canadian Alliance was in 2000.

    Their policies, culture and behaviour are ridiculous to a great majority of Canadians, and the few that realise it can't figure out why.


    Was that some other Robert Vollman?

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 3:33 PM  

  • Oh, and one other thing, h2h: Arguing that "class" is somehow outside the issue of ideology is just bizarre. Ideology is not strictly based on post-material conflicts; anybody who's even heard of a Communist knows that.

    Political philosophy needs to deal with the problem of socioeconomic cleavages, and liberals (or progressives) have been sounding the alarm about skyrocketing Gini coefficients in the West for years.

    (Paul Krugman even wrote a book about it. It has lots of stats. You'd like it.)

    By Blogger Demosthenes, at 3:36 PM  

  • "H2H, again, what on earth is motivating this presumption that people's voting choices are fixed at the point of birth (or maturity, I suppose)?"

    Voting choices are not fixed at maturity, they change based on events. However, a big determinant in how they vary depends upon what cohort one is in. Moreover, the political currents in place at the beginning of political maturity affect a generation's starting point.

    People form opinions based on experiences, updated as new information becomes available. People of different ages are likely to see the same events in a different light given their distinct circumstances.

    Example: policymakers (and voters) of the GI generation were very attracted to ideas like the domino theory because their defining historical "lesson" was Munich.

    Or, in economics, many Canadians that lived through the recession of the early 80's and early 90's, and boom of the mid-to-late 90's attributed deficit reduction to the latter and high deficits to the former. Generation Jones which might have had faced actual unemployment in those recessions would be more likely to draw that opinion than pre-boomers who were generally in secure jobs by that age or the MTV generation which was not in the job market yet.

    ***********************************

    "Oh, and one other thing, h2h: Arguing that "class" is somehow outside the issue of ideology is just bizarre. Ideology is not strictly based on post-material conflicts; anybody who's even heard of a Communist knows that."

    You know what, this is really a case where regression analysis is useful - what factors are the best predictors that one voted Conservative, Liberal, etc. A lot of what we are talking about correlates with other factors. I will post results.

    PS: I dislike most of Krugman's public intellectual work (especially where it contradicts his - excellent - academic work). He is the most intellectually inconsistent man alive.

    One of his big contributions to trade theory (the man does deserve a Nobel, I should say) was the notion that traditional theories assume perfect competition, and leave out the possibility of a large country engaging in strategic trade by setting an optimal tariff - using its market power to restrict output and extract better terms of trade.

    As a public intellectual he attacked strategic traders.

    One of his other books (The Age of Diminished Expectations) suggests that most of what we should care about is productivity growth, while most other indicators don't matter unless they relate to productivity growth. Of course when the Bush administration sees record productivity growth, Krugman attacks them on all of the indicators he said didn't matter.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 6:59 PM  

  • You forgot about the most important one of all - THE LIBERAL PARTY'S IDENTITY. Organization, Policy and Fundraising will flow from this. If the LPOC doesn't return to being a centrist party instead of the socialist wacko party it is now, then it is doomed for the scrap heap of history, and talk of 'renewal' will be just talk.

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