Sunday, March 02, 2014

Under The Bus

Andrew Coyne writes that there is a distinct difference between conservatives and Conservatives. That difference was on display at this weekend's Manning Conference:

The Conservative party is supposed to be conservative. If the Manning conference has gotten more overtly partisan over the years, it may be because the party has gotten less overtly anything, other than unpleasant. Or rather, the leadership has. But looking at the contrast between this ostensibly non-partisan convention and its partisan predecessor, the thought occurs: this is the real Conservative convention. It is a gathering, if you like, of the Conservative party in exile.

The party that met in Calgary was not so much the Conservative party as the Harper party. It was run by and for Harper loyalists — think Pierre Poilievre — people who are happy to do whatever the leader wants done, say whatever the leader wants said, even if that means abandoning every core conviction the party has ever held. In its place is Harperism, less an ideology than a set of behaviours: the nastiness, the ruthlessness, the almost universal gracelessness, of which the decision to exclude the opposition parties from the mission to Ukraine was only the latest example.

The two types of conservatives -- small c and big C -- have decided to part company:

Nothing was said out loud, no knives were unsheathed, but this had the feel of a group of people preparing for a post-Harper party. From the title (“Next Steps”) to the speakers, a banquet of potential leadership contenders, the tone is of serious people who want to talk about serious ideas, stripped (mostly) of the hyper-partisan rhetoric and name-calling: the grown-ups, the good faith Conservatives.

The Manning attendees were told that their numbers are headed south. And Manning himself criticized Harperian election reforms, saying that the challenge was to increase election turnout. On the environment, he said that the Harper Party was "exasperating."

All of that was as it should be. Harper threw Manning under the bus. Manning was simply returning the favour.


The Mound of Sound said...

Yes, I too detected the waft of well-aged revenge coming from Manning's corner. Talked to Ottawa this morning. Word is that Steve and his cadre of insiders are floundering with no clear place to go. No 'natural successor' is emerging from Harper's inner circle, even Kenney.

The only Con said to be positioning for the job is Maxime Bernier. It's said he has an organization gearing up for a bid to replace Harper. Apparently the Julie Couillard business no longer haunts his aspirations.

Flanagan took a swipe at Harper, saying SH is so unpopular he's become incapable of smearing Trudeau. Manning goes after Harper on the Fair Elections Act. Polls show Harper in serious decline. A new tell-all book on Duffy and Harper comes out in the next two weeks. Harper is not well loved inside his shop and has governed only by ruthlessness bolstered by the perception he can deliver victories. When you can no longer hold the whip somebody else is bound to pick it up and give you a taste of the lash.

Owen Gray said...

There's a certain poetic justice in all of this, Mound. Machiavelli said it was better to be feared than loved. And Steve took his advice.

But there is always a price to be paid. And it looks like the bill has come due.

Steve said...

Owen we can only hope its true, and not to late.

Owen Gray said...

I've always felt that, eventually, Harper would go to the guillotine, Steve.

But, as you say, the real question is, "Will the country still be there after he is forced to take his leave?"