So with the campaign coming to a close I thought I would steal Adam Radwanski's idea of grading the leader's (I'm sure it's been done long before Adam so I don't feel so bad) as a way of summing up how I feel about each of their campaigns.I'd like to hear others grades too.
Now many of you may disagree with my analysis, but I think we all have to admit that in giving out such grades for each leader's campaign you really do have to take into account the results, so for all you Tories out there, I don't see how you could justify Tory having run a better campaign when he's doing worse now than when he started.
Grading the Leaders: Howard Hampton: C+
Suffice it to say the NDP and Howard Hampton haven't had an easy time this time around (I guess they haven't since 1990 though). It's tough when the people know you'll never form the government to have your ideas taken seriously. But a good leader has to be able to deal with that. Hampton means well I'm sure but he just couldn't get the job done. He came up with his "six priorities" and I guess he thought that if he kept it simple people might actually listen to him, but you know aside from eliminating the health tax(while raising corporate and income taxes for the highest bracket), uploading services, and re-listing eye exams and physio, I don't remember what his other policies were. He kept talking about seniors in soiled diapers, but I don't remember hearing a fully costed plan on how to deal with that. Basically, he raised a lot of good issues, but he suffered from a real credibility problem in that he didn't have realistic solutions.
It seemed like he was just full of were pie in the sky promises with no fully costed platform to back it up. Basically, Hampton seemed to be telling us we could have the world and not suffer any consequences (unless you were rich I guess, then you get taxes raised). He also started out the campaign claiming he was going to form the government which no one really believed which took a further hit to his believability.
But then there were his actual ideas that just didn't stand up to scrutiny. This was nowhere more true than with energy: Hampton wanted to close our nuclear plants and coal power plants and then hope and pray we could replace it all with renewable energy. Pie in the sky thinking as I said. When people think you're full of BS on some matters they don't really want to hear what you have to say about the rest. Next time, the NDP should really come forth with a fully costed platform and actually test out their ideas on non-NDP supporters to see if they actually hold up to any kind of scrutiny. I won't hold my breath though.
Anyways I guess Hampton not being listen to or believed came to full a head last week, as he fell back on the old adage that when your campaign isn't going well just play the blame the media card. I don't think the media was completely wrong to focus on religious schools. It could after all be making one of the biggest change to our education system in decades. Of course I did agree with Hampton that it would have been good to hear more coverage on all the others issues that he mentioned. But Hampton, like Tory should have been able to see the forest from the trees earlier on religious schools and how important it would be. The Liberals saw it and were front and centre talking about it. Hampton instead kept talking about "smokescreens" while McGuinty was establishing himself as the only true defender of public education. Hampton could have taken a clear stand like McGuinty, but like Tory he just couldn't see how much this issue would matter to Ontarians (and maybe moreso the media) and didn't make enough of a splash on the issue. If he wanted to talk about other issues, he should have gotten in on this one to get the attention, and while he had it, took the opportunity to his advantage and brought up the other issues. He could have taken the lead to talk about other issues this way, and he didn't do it, so all the while he got ignored and fell behind in the race.
I do give Hampton some credit though for at least realizing that thata lot of this was John Tory's fault for bringing up this wrong-headed religious schools idea in the first place. It was good to see HoJo "take a break" for a short time, but Hampton should have left it at that, but instead completely melted down in front of the media. It was not exactly the way to make a comeback. He came off sounding desperate and demoralized and plunged his credibility down further. It was as close to officially throwing in the towel as you get.
He's rebounded a bit these past few days, showing just a bit more confidence, but nothing that would lure away many Liberal supporters. His latest claim that the Liberals would have to raise taxes is a bit rich from the party that had the most expensive platform of all (and relies on much rosier economic predictions than the Conservatives or Liberals). Again he really suffers from a credibility gap and I think that's partly what's done him in.
So in summary, I give Hampton some credit for raising some good issues and for in the final days finally criticizing Tory for the disaster he's been. He's also likely to at least also increase his party's share of the popular vote (and possibly seat count) over 2003, so results do have to be factored in there. But by and large he didn't get the job done as he failed to get much attention most of the campaign (something the leader of the NDP has to be adept at and something Layton does a better job of), put out ideas that didn't really stand up to scrutiny and he looks like he's failed to hold the Liberals to a minority which was his main task.
I feel for Hampton, I think he's probably in politics for the right reasons, he (by his own admission) just might not be the right guy for his job. I imagine a new leader will take the reins soon of the NDP and if I were an NDP supporter I would hope he/she learns from Hampton's mistakes.
Next up is John Tory...
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