There is a way to lead a political party after a defeat. Robin Sears writes that Tommy Douglas was a master of the art:
Having lost more elections than any other contemporary political leader — 1962, 1963, 1965, 1968, and his own riding twice (!) — it is a little staggering to reflect that Tommy Douglas never endured a leadership challenge until 1971. His success was grounded in an evangelical skill at persuasion, but even more importantly, his ability to rebuild confidence and conviction even on a losing election night.
His election night speeches became a cliché, but to hear him deliver it, to a room full of hardened farmers and tough factory workers, many in tears, was always a stunning moment. He would start slowly and then his voice would rise to a crescendo: “My friends. I am hurt, but I am not slain … I’ll lay me down and bleed awhile, and then … I’ll rise and fight again.” You believed him and you immediately felt better.
Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau have taken a couple of lessons from Douglas. But
then there is Conservative leader Andrew Scheer.
He has broken most of the rules of tribal leadership following defeat, already.
Older Conservative clan leaders have not felt consulted or respected. Defeated and depressed former MPs and candidates have not been given a persuasive call to arms. The media — always suspect in contemporary Conservative circles — have been given no believable narrative about his path to rebirth, leaving a couple of savvy Tory operatives license to magnify and exaggerate the extent of open rebellion against him.
It did not need to be this way. It may not be too late for those who want him to survive, to mount a counterattack. But Scheer himself will have to decide and declare a change in his thinking on cultural issues and climate. Even many Conservatives who wish him no ill are gloomy about his willingness or ability to so do.
Mr.Scheer's future does not look rosy.
Image: The Toronto Star