23 July 2007

Learning From Canadian Tories

James Forsyth at the Spectator is a commentator with whom I frequently disagree (usually because his arguments are fallacious or based on false premises). He is asking whether a party has ever come back from "this far behind" to win an election. For the purpose of his question, I'll set to one side the fact that the swings at Ealing and Sedgefield would make the Tories the largest party nationally if repeated at a GE and that the Tories won the local elections by a landslide and answer the question as is.

I blogged previously on the parallels between Gordon Brown and ex-Canadian PM Paul Martin. Paul Martin called an election in 2006 where his liberal party were showing a 5% to 10% lead in the polls. The Conservatives won easily in the end as shown by the graphic. More narrative here, but the key feature of the Conservative campaign was their "policy a day" initiative that won round the public and the media. The Conservative leader Stephen Harper isn't and wasn't seen as charismatic, but he was certainly seen as authentic and substantial.

Authenticity is the word Tim Montgomerie at Conservative Home has been using to press home what the Tories need to convey to attract new votes. I couldn't agree more. But don't expect anything I say to carry any weight. In fact the opposite will probably happen, as witnessed by my reshuffle advice to the party to retain Willetts and Maude where they are and demote Osborne.

11 comments:

Ed said...

Have to be a bit careful because unfortunately Britain is not like Canada. Bear in mind that the Commonsense Revolution started in Ontario...

Stephen Newton said...

A policy announcement a day would kill the Tory party. Simply restating the grammar school policy led to three weeks of self-destruction.

The Rwandan trip was meant to boost the launch of a global poverty initiative the party could unite behind. Instead it has been rubbished by traditionalists like Ann Widdecome ('I'm not sure many voters know where Rwanda is') and, despite PT's dreamy reading of the polls, plots are afoot to unseat him.

Eventually Cameron will be forced to make some genuinely controversial policy announcements, but he already looks like a lame duck.

Lord Straf-Moran said...

Both are needed - authenticity and charisma. Which does DC have?

Manfarang said...

Learning lessons from the Canadian Progressive Conservatives surely?

Praguetory said...

Don't agree that an announcement a day would be divisive. To contrast with grammar schools, Cameron would be announcing these after the policy groups have reported, after getting the backing of his MPs and one day's policy would be followed by another so negative stories wouldn't get traction. Manfarang - Tories in Canada is synomynous with conservative. See here Note to self - why do people leave comments when they are ignorant?

Manfarang said...

The Canadian Conservative Party is more neo-liberal than Tory, although they have appropriated the nickname.Canadian Tories were a bit more progressive than their British counterparts.
Since DC is trying to reposition the British Conservative Party I don't think he will learn much from what is happening in Canada now.The Moderate Party in Sweden is a better model.
BTW Which part of Canada did you live in?

Red Tory said...

Your point is not invalid and the "policy a day" was definitely an effective tactic, but also bear in mind that the Liberal government was plagued by scandal — including one that erupted during the middle of the campaign — so there were other significant factors at play.

Praguetory said...

Manfarang - One of my main political mentors is a right-wing politics professor from Canada who was previously involved with youth politics there.

Anonymous said...

The appearance of the Canadian conservative blogger redtory emphasises your point, PT.

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