Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The reviews are in

Jeffrey Simpson:
At the (Liberal) party's upper echelons these days, the pervasive emotion is fear: fear of providing the Conservatives' attack machine with a target, fear of saying anything controversial lest voters be offended, fear of the polls, fear of negative media, fear of voters' unwillingness to accept serious debate.

When a party, like an individual, is guided by fear, then courage is banished, convictions are buried, and politicians will talk but not say much. Or, to be more charitable, the party of fear will offer alternatives to the government, but they will be timid and at the margin of difference, the theory being that governments defeat themselves rather than opposition parties winning by the force of their ideas.

This is the mind space now occupied by the Liberals.
A little more money here, a little longer deficit there, the occasional dissent but not a clear alternative: As a result of these calculations, the Liberals seem fearful of challenging the basic framework of debate established by Mr. Harper, and will thus argue at the margins of his framework rather than trying to create an entirely new one themselves.

The result will be a Liberal Party of little policies without much vision, and certainly without the tools to reconnect with those core convictions that defined the party in its better days. The result, too, will be a leader whose own core convictions will be challenged.

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