Count on the British to be able to size up Michael Ignatieff. He has after all spent more of his recent life in their company – in their universities, in their wood-paneled social clubs, on their televisions and in their newspapers – than he has on ours.
For its part The Guardian – Britain's venerable left-leaning paper – is decidedly anti-Ignatieff, if this column in its on-line edition today offers any indication.
The column casts long doubts over Ignatieff's leadership, finding him “nowhere” on the economy, ridiculing his “conditional” support for the Conservatives' budget, and blasting him for his decidedly un-progressive decision to let the Harper government survive despite the alternative accord offered by the New Democrats.
Michael Stickings savages Ignatieff and the pervasive delusions held about him by the know-it-all establishment saying:
Ignatieff “has never seemed to be much of a Canadian, and certainly not enough of one to be our prime minister. It's not that he has spent so much of his life overseas – mostly in Britain and the US. It's that he has seemed to aspire actively to be anything but Canadian, and more specifically to be American. Which is fine, in a cosmopolitan sort of way, but he comes back to Canada with an air of condescension about him, as if he has seen the world and conquered it and has now decided, with the coaxing of a party eager for him to lead it back to the promised land, to sully himself in the world of politics supposedly on our behalf but really because he just wants to be prime minister, so great would it look on his resumé, a capstone to a long and successful career.”
But wait, there's more. As that last paragraph lets on, Stickings is a Canadian who writes for The Guardian. Not just that, he's also a Canadian who has supported the Liberal Party in the past (on his website he admits to have supported Bob Rae for leader in 2006).
That The Guardian let this column run shows that Ignatieff's international audience isn't all rosy adulation and gratitude from wide-eyed plebes. There is a real sense - from the people who know him best - that the man may be in this for the wrong reasons.
UPDATE: The comments on the column are lively and revealing that Britons are grateful to finally find their televisions Iggy-free …
“Is this the same bloke who used to ponce about on the BBC?”
“he's a dreadful old pseud. he ruined bbc arts programmes in the late 80s. we were glad to be rid of him. our gain, your loss.”