Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rae-Ignatieff Alliance

In 2006 both Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae were contenders in the Liberal leadership race. Both had large organizations. Both were top contenders. Both lost. Both have been in the shadow of Dion for the last two years. Both want to be the next leader. And in this next leadership race, out of all of their similarities there is one, more then any other, that suggests these two potential leaders should make a deal, and that is that both men suffered defeat by a compromise candidate.

It has been rumoured that Michael Ignatieff and Bob Rae have made a deal to support each other after the second ballot in the next Liberal Leadership race. Yes, even before both men have announced their intentions to run, there is a rumour circulating that they have already met and made an arrangement to avoid an outcome similar to that of Montreal's. In reflection if this is just a rumour, both men should still at least strategically consider it... If they haven't already.

True these two Liberals battled each other just two and a half years ago, but since both are seen as polarizing figures within the Party, they are united by the threat of a candidate from the middle. Now not only does each leadership candidate recognize his vulnerability to such a compromise candidate, but more importantly each candidates' supporters do too. Thus at the Convention whichever candidate is losing after the second ballot, his supporters will be unified in moving to the other.

This idea that Rae and Ignatieff supporters would collectively unify against a compromise candidate is the evolutionary reaction to the strategy that caused both men to lose in the last Leadership race. Where Dion and Kennedy supporters were unified, Rae and Ignatieff supporters were divided, neither Bob or Michael had a chance. It would stand to reason that this time around, even if there was no pact at the highest level, just as in 2006 where Dion and Kennedy supporters became unified against Rae and Ignatieff, Rae and Ignatieff would now rally against the compromise candidate.

Why didn't Rae and Ignatieff supporters do this in 2006? Simple. While there was a real perceived threat for Dion and Kennedy supporters, in that each campaign recognized that their candidate could only win if the other supported the winner, there was no such threat for either of the Ignatieff or Rae campaigns. Sure there were scenarios that each team had thought of, but both genuinely thought they could win just by nominal growth between ballots. In 2008 however things are drastically different both Rae and Ignatieff are well aware of their polarizing statuses, as are their supporters.

It is in that spirit, that both former rivals should realize they share a common threat that will unify their supporters, and that threat, that each cannot win without the support of the other, is real.


Jon said...

Did you do the animation at the start of your youtube videos yourself?

burlivespipe said...

Unfortunately, I saw little during my stint as a Rae delegate and in my own riding association to show that delegates of one would be inclined naturally to join the other. There are distinct differences among the candidates' platforms and histories that may make a Kennedy-to-Dion scenario less than probable.
Possible, yes.

Anonymous said...

interesting analysis... the smart thing to do would be to ensure that the deal works *before* delegates even reach the convention, in the selection stage, and to use the opportunity to purge the local executives at the same time :)

Mala Fides said...

What I think your analysis fails to comprehend is that the 2006 Leadership Convention demonstrated a clear disconnect between the party brass and the party grass.

Both Rae's and Ignatieff's campaigns were loaded with top end Liberal donors, power-brokers and caucus members, but they both failed to connect with the party grassroots.

For many, Rae was unacceptable because the grassroots knew that Rae's tenure as Ontario Premier would have the Liberals lose seats in the party's only remaining stronghold of secure votes, Ontario.

Ignatieff's positions on Iraq, Quebec nation, and yes, unfortunately torture, just simply didn't jive with the party's grassroots.

For many the manner in which Ignatieff's activists ran their campaign also reminded the grassroots of the worst elements of Paul Martin's leadership team (and they are doing nothing presently to stop this feeling).

The disconnect between the grass and the brass is something that needs to be addressed, especially with the changes to the fundraising laws.

The Rae and Iggnatieff camps have not yet figured out that the grassroots of the party represents the true power base of the party during leadership.

Their top heavy organizations are simply an affront to the democratic spirit of the party and have clearly alienated the base of the party.

It is no wonder that Liberals across the country decided to stay home on election day when their MPs failed to stand by the Leader of the party that was chosen by the grassroots.

I see the same type of leadership race shaping up this time around and I see a similar result occurring, because the grassroots continue to feel ignored and abused by the party brass' decision to leave Dion flapping in the wind and the grassroots are insulted by Ignatieff's endless campaign for the Leadership.

As a number of people have already recognized, disloyalty breeds disloyalty.

Anonymous said...

Jon: Yes

I think in 2009 it will be more then possible that each supports the other, I think that's what will happen. As I said both men and their supporters recognize they face a common threat.

I think it will happen even if it isn't ensured at the selection process. Rae and Ignatieff delegates will unify just as more then 90% of Kennedy delegates followed him to Dion.

I think this delegate system makes that disconnect. And since we will have delegates in 2009 I don't see how such a disconnect will be prevented in this next race.


saw said...

"It is no wonder that Liberals across the country decided to stay home on election day when their MPs failed to stand by the Leader of the party that was chosen by the grassroots."

Let me get this straight, because MPs, the 'brass' of the party may not have been enthused about Dion, party members, the 'grass', who supported him, believed in him, and wanted him to be PM, stayed home? That makes no sense at all. If the 'grass' wanted to buck the 'brass' why didn't they vote?

Anyhow, the charge that Ignatieff, at least, was a 'brass' supported candidate is total BS. Sure he got support from donors and MPs, but the people actually running his campaign and making decisions every day were a totally new crop in the party. That is a simple fact.

Besides all that though, shouldn't the party be looking for someone who can raise money and, among other things, earn support and confidence of the people who actually choose to put their regular lives aside and run for office under the party banner?

Somehow, Dion's inability to do either of these things have become his greatest virtues to his defencers. These completely ridiculous notions are the reason this party is in the shape it is in.

Anonymous said...

ABRI- Rae and Iggy have the same baggage as 2006. Neither of them were even part of the Liberal Party until 2006!!! Very disturbing.
We need that 3rd candidate. If Rae and Iggy pact together, I am done as a Liberal.

Anonymous said...

Ignatieff joined the Liberal party in the 1960s and was an active campaigner during the Pearson days.

As for Rae and Ignatieff failing to connect with the grassroots. First, both had more first ballot support than Dion. Second, Dion couldn't even motivate his base to get to the polls. Dion won more *delegate* support, because he was seen as a "consensus candidate" in the end. In other words, for the vast majority of delegates who support him, he was a second-choice at best.

Ron said...

In all this talk, I hear nothing about Liberals building a party with ideas, dreams or visions and, only then, seeking a leader to realise those ambitions. Last time, the delegates went with Dion because he was the flavour of the day(i.e. the environmentalist). Once the population soured on that flavour, there was nothing left to attract voters. The next 6 months should be used to define the party and secure its commitment to specific values and goals. Then delegates can measure the candidates against this scale and choose a leader best suited to sell the party and those goals to the public; relying on finding another Trudeau (or Harper for the Conservatives) where one person personifies the party is not the best strategy.