After posting my piece yesterday: Jack Layton Needs to Spend the Summer Taking "Speech" Lessons I received a couple of comments in defense of the Layton strategy.
I'm still unable to respond on my own blog, so I thought I'd explain myself. I don't want to see the NDP destroyed. They were always my "go to" party if the PCs screwed up. However, as someone who has been following and studying the neoconservative movement, I see how easily it was for Harper to set up the NDP.
In 2004, when he arranged a meeting with Gilles Duceppe and Jack Layton, he convinced them that they must help him destroy the Liberals, so they should both attack the Sponsorship Scandal with all the gusto they could muster. And they did.
The Liberals were attacked on all fronts, despite the fact that the stage was set for the Sponsorship Scandal by Brian Mulroney, who hired all the cronies, and introduced them to the 'culture of entitlement' (see Stevie Cameron's On the Take) Every name is there.
Jack Layton's father was a cabinet minister in the Mulroney government, and since Layton tries to paint all Liberals with the Adscam brush, I guess turnabout is fair play.
Harper's strategy worked and he now has his majority. But what's interesting is the way it played out. He knew he couldn't beat the Bloc in Quebec, because his ideology is the complete opposite to what most Quebecers believe.
So instead he allowed the NDP to destroy them, getting his majority without Quebec. He never felt comfortable "sucking up to them" in the first place. (see Lawrence Martin's Harperland)
And it didn't take long for the right-wing media to rile the West with the Layton/Quebec match up.
I'm thoroughly convinced that the NDP "surge" was contrived, because the headlines appeared before the actual surge. But it is what it is. Harper couldn't have written the script better himself.
He will spend the next four years polarizing Canadians into a right/left divide. His plan all along.
Although it wasn't even originally his plan, but that of Ernest Manning's, the long serving Social Credit premier of Alberta. He set out to destroy the Liberals by working within the Conservative Party of John Diefenbaker.
Dief toyed with the idea of an alliance until a member of his caucus, Jim MacDonnell, whose father was a friend of Sir John A. MacDonald, exclaimed that the party founder "would now turn over in his grave!" (see One Canada by John Diefenbaker)
So Manning's next strategy was to have the head of the federal Social Credit Party, Rob Thompson, run for the Conservatives, hoping he would then be in a position to merge the two parties from the inside. That also failed.
With corporate financing, he wrote his little book: Political Realignment, and sent his son, Preston Manning, along with friend Erick Schmidt, to the PC convention, again to encourage a merger. But Robert Stanfield, a Red Tory (Harper called Red Tories "pink Liberals") was chosen, and the two young men sent on their way.
The Mannings knew they would have to wait, so wait they did. Political Realignment drew the attention of the National Citizens Coalition, and a marriage was sanctified. To complete the new strategy, the NCC hired Arthur Finklestein, who took liberal bashing to a new level. Finklestein also created the idea of Independent Expenditure Campaigns, in response to a tightening of political contributions after Watergate.
He helped to turn the NCC from a simple protest group, into a full blown, corporate financed, purveyor of Independent Expenditure Campaigns (third party advertising), while Manning advised that they become designated non-profit, to enjoy the tax breaks.
The next wave came with western anger over the National Energy Policy and Mulroney's decision to give a military contract to Montreal, that was promised to Winnipeg, and the Reform Party was born.
David Frum attempted another merger when Jean Charest became Conservative leader, but soon realized that the two parties were polar opposites, so they again bided their time.
Finally, with Peter MacKay at the helm, and a $500,000 loan hanging over his head, he sold out to Harper and the PC Party was no more. Harper claims to know who paid MacKay's loan but refuses to divulge the information. Possibly Karlheinz Schreiber, a close friend of MacKay's father. ( MacKay's financial secret safe with Harper: No conflict, party leader says, by Stephen Maher, The Halifax Herald Limited, May 13, 2004)
That was 2003, and in 2004, the next phase to destroy the centre began.
It's important for Jack Layton to understand just how this movement began and how deeply entrenched it is, if he hopes to survive.
And using language like "brothers and sisters", only fuels the right-wing noise machine.
So I stand by my opinion that he needs to develop a new language, if he hopes to make his party palpable to the average Canadian, who gets all their messaging from Harper's communications team.
We know how important trade unions are, but at the beginning of the debate over the back to work legislation, Canadians were split down the middle. By the end, they were 70% against the postal workers. Why? Because the Conservatives sold their side better.
Layton's rhetoric only helps the right-wingers paint him as a communist. A "red threat". Completely irrational, but this movement is anything but rational. Have you read the comments sections at the end of on-line articles? Harper's supporters defend his purchase of the F-35s, because the communists of Russia and China are threatening our Arctic sovereignty.
And it doesn't matter how many experts claim that these planes are no good for the Arctic, you will not budge them. Why do you think the government is building a monument to the victims of Communism?
Personally, I don't think commie plots are our biggest threat. I don't even believe that terrorism is. The biggest threat we are facing today is ignorance.
For heaven sake, Michelle Bachman and Sarah Palin are both thought by some to be the next president of the United States. In fact, other Republican hopefuls, are dumming down their message to compete with their stupidity.
Can you imagine if one of these women had access to the metaphorical red button?
So hopefully, when Parliament resumes in the fall, Jack Layton will have learned something from this. He needs to change his strategy or he's doomed, and unfortunately, so are we.