Friday, October 02, 2015

On distinguishing factors

The common personalities and strategies by tired right-wing governments are leading to some comparisons between the ongoing Canadian campaign and the UK's election earlier this year. But even as we treat David Cameron's re-election as an important warning, let's note that there's a rather crucial difference between the two.

In the UK, the Conservatives' sudden win seems to have been entirely unexpected, within prominent forecasters having seen the race as a dead heat rather than one in which Cameron had any prospect of taking a majority. And that likely affected coverage of the race as well as party strategies in the approach to election day.

In contrast, the fact that the Harper Cons have thrown out the dog whistles in favour of bullhorns well before election day has set a radically different course of events into motion. Yes, the Cons have been rewarded with an appalling bump in the polls. But that's come soon enough to leave time for both opposition parties and voters to react - both by countering the Cons' message itself, and raising the real spectre of more Harper government as a risk which voters may not have foreseen when a minority Parliament seemed like a relatively sure thing.

As I've noted, the one common denominator in this year's campaign has been a focus on preventing anybody from staying ahead of the field. Now, the Cons have managed to become the main target for all other parties going into the home stretch - and it would be entirely appropriate for the Cons' bigotry to backfire by causing a backlash Stephen Harper can neither control nor survive.

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