Thursday, July 12, 2012

THE POLITICAL DOLDRUMS CREATING BUZZ

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SO WHAT DO WE DO WITH OUR LIFES
WE LEAVE ONLY A MARK
WILL OUR STORY SHINE LIKE A LIGHT
OR END IN THE DARK
GIVE IT ALL OR NOTHING

We Don't Need Another Hero
Tina Turner - 1985
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Summer is here, even the most extreme contrarian would be hard pressed to complain about the great weather of the past month!

School is out, my priority, with the little bit of spare time I have, is to hike, bike, swim, fish and hang out with my boys. In fact, I have not listened to a newscast or read a paper in nearly two weeks.  The Economist, Time, Macleans and my e-papers have all been piling up on my iPad.

That is not to say that over the past couple of weeks that my travels across the province have not included some really interesting political chats with journalists, partisans and folks who really could care less about politics.   The transition of the electoral landscape is on people's minds. 

They want a leader. The party is secondary.

The ongoing electoral terraforming will not abate, or finish until a dynamic new face that can capture the respect of the electorate emerges. With all three parties facing leadership renewal, three polls that show the Progressive Conservatives are in free fall (they call that a trend) with the opposition parties surging and the real potential of a minority government, these tectonic shifts are carving out a new reality.

The NDP have the momentum but can they meet newfound expectations as the media start putting their leadership, policies and experience under the microscope. The Environic's poll provided the Liberals with a shot in the arm, can they stop quailing with one another long enough to choose a leader who sees the big picture? As for the Progressive Conservatives, they are the government, with all the resources to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

The future for all three parties is a crap shoot, a minority government is in the offing...unless one of the parties can find a leader magnus that can change the game. Contemprary politics in Newfoundland is a constantly changing situation.

Many are called and fewer a chosen. Surely, with the quality of business, social and community leaders in the province, a leader can be found to rescue us from the Sargasso Sea of ineficaciousness.

Plan ahead with the best wind forecast available, so that your sail selection, rig setup, and race strategy are the best they can be. The party that can end up windward first, will be the party to beat!

With the winds of change blowing, the experienced captain and crew with the best touch will inevitably win.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

THE DEVIL YOU KNOW IS BETTER THAN THE ONE YOU DON'T. THE CONSERVATIVES HAVE ATTRACTED AN EXCELLENT SLATE OF EXPERIENCE PEOPLE AND WITH THE WORLD'S ECONOMY AS IT IS WE NEED EXPERIENCE PEOPLE AT THE HELM. IT IS SCARY TO THINK AT THIS TIME SOMEONE LIKE THE LEADER OF THE THIRD PARTY COULD BE EVEN GIVEN OFFICIAL OPPOSITION. PERSONALLY I CANNOT SEE IT HAPPENING.

Peter L. Whittle said...

I am not sure about the "EXCELLENT SLATE OF EXPERIENCE PEOPLE". There is obviously some talent, but not enough to sustain, let a lone repeat the remarkable electoral success of the past three campaigns.

They look, sound and act arrogant. The old line that "we are entitled to our entitlements" comes to mind.

As I say, this next two years is going to offer all three parties opportunities for renewal. Which one is most effective will determine the future.

The staying power of the NDP is yet to be determined, but it is a trend not a blip. Folks have voted NDP three or four time in a row now. It is no longer a simple protest.

It is renewal or bust! The fixed terms make change for the governing party even more difficult.

That said, bad polls in the first year of a majority mandate are nothing to get all helter skelter over. This is the time to make tough decisions and the result is lower popularity numbers. Rebounding will be determined by the leadership, something that I would argue is certainly not abundant at the moment!

I wish the media would concentrate less on the polls and more on what the government is doing and not doing.

Cyril Rogers said...

Peter, I agree that there is a need for direction and leadership in all of the political parties in this province but the thought of us, as a people, needing a "leader" scares me. It simply puts us back into the role of minions being manipulated by a strong leader, or someone who is perceived to be a strong leader.

Dean MacDonald certainly comes to mind as someone that people perceive to be that kind of leader. Personally, I have a major problem with leaders such as Mr. MacDonald, who will only get into the race when it is their time. He is way too close to Danny Williams for my liking, even if he does assume the leadership of the Liberal Party. I would be extremely disappointed if people choose the superficial over substance yet again.

Leaders like that look good, sound good, and so forth, but are they good for the province as a whole? What does Mr. MacDonald know about, or understand, of the heart and soul of rural Newfoundland and Labrador. In my opinion, little or nothing! He is into big oil and big business and that is not he key to survival of our rural communities. We need small-scale development that is not met with glaring headlines and gains political brownie points for politicians. It must be enduring and sustainable, as opposed to the "big oil" mentality of people like Mr. MacDonald.

I don't begrudge Mr. MacDonald the right to aspire for leadership but their aspirations will do nothing for the revival of rural areas. I am an eternal optimist in that regard but feel that the political culture of all parties will allow a one-vibrant people to wither on the vine. It is both a federal and provincial responsibility but there is so much more we could do provincially if we were not so obsessed with unsustainable mega-projects and big oil.

With genuine leadership would come an opportunity for ordinary people to exercise real democracy and there would be a level of trust in ordinary people that is not present with the current government. We are perilously close to a secular theocracy right now and, unless we have power revert back to the people, we will keep going down that road to autocratic government.

amcmanustheautho said...

Good post, Peter.

The NDP's weakness is lack of organization outside the Avalon (some would say, outside St. John's.

Your points on leadership are dead on.

Think about historical experience. The Liberal administration of Clyde Wells was by far more conservative than Danny Williams' liberal spending.

Many pundits, (I believe you might be one) have stated their belief that the 3 political party leaders we currently have will not lead their parties into the 2015 general election.

So, we need to look at who might replace them.

The Conservatives will have a battle royale, one that will either unite or tear them apart (a la Grimes vs Efford vs Dicks).

The Liberals have their get to know Dean MacDonald tour (he has missed at least 2 tour stops) and is poorly organized. Recent tour meetings have been closed to the public sessions so the opportunity for new ideas and growth was squandered.

Everyone believed Lorraine Michaels, now 70, would not lead the NDP into the next election. The rise in support may fuel her ambitions to stay but is that practical? Dale Kirby's Twitter and other public gaffes coupled with the fact he is a part-time MHA (keeping his job at MUN) cause commitment questions. And then there is George Murphy, a popular former Liberal who has built a persona and is doing a solid job as MHA.

So, to summarize, if ideology is pushed down the ladder of importance and leadership is the most characteristic, then we are in for a significant change.