So I understand a former Liberal cabinet minister thinks the Liberals have "moved too far left". I happen think this is a total myth, but if you happen to think that moving the Liberals sharply to the right is a solution to its problems I invite you to take a look at the chart above which shows Liberals support from 1988 to 2008. From 1993 to 2008 we’ve gone from 41.3% to 26.2%. Over that same time the NDP has gone from 6.9% to 18.2%, while the Greens took another 7% from us in this last election. Liberals really ought to take into that into consideration when thinking about where they go from here.
Yes a divided right helped us win in 1993 and yes we won back some of the PC vote in 2004, but we can’t ignore that the combined Alliance-PC total was still 35% in the 1993 election that brought us back to power while the NDP went from 20.4% in 1988 down to 6.9%. So isn’t it pretty clear where bulk of our vote increase came from from 1988 to 1993?
And if you really believe the Liberals have gone “too far left” under Stéphane Dion just what “left wing” policies would you suggest Liberals discard? Fighting poverty? The Kelowna Accords? National child care? Do you think cutting income taxes or corporate taxes is too far left? A carbon tax has also never been a left wing idea. You can’t just make blanket claims that the party has gone too far left without giving even one specific policy example of what you think should be different.
I personally don’t like these right-left labels that some seem to fall for. Myself I prefer socially progressive and fiscally responsible policies and I was very proud of the platform we had in the last election. No one can credibly tell us we weren’t proposing sound public policy that wasn’t going to be good for the economy and the environment. We will have new policies I’m sure in the next election, but I would recommend tweaking rather than an overhaul as I’d hate to see the party just start pandering to what’s more politically palatable than what actually makes for good governance.
But back to the point at hand, Liberals are going to do worse in the next election if move sharply right. We ignore the rise of the NDP and the Greens at our own peril.
I believe there are three things to ensure they do not harm our electoral chances further in the next election:
1) Stand up to Harper vigorously in the next Parliament. We shouldn’t fear voting against him, I am 100% certain either the NDP or the Bloc will vote to keep him in power time and again.
2) Put out a similar progressive platform but that is communicated in more bite-sized fashion
3) Endorse holding a referendum on electoral reform
I will have more on each on those points in future posts.
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