Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"I’ll see your proposal, and raise you Ned Franks"

Liberals badly misjudged the public mood against push-button prorogation. Appearing every bit as wedded to the old politics as Harper, Ignatieff declared last week that there should be no limits on the Prime Minister's prerogative to shut down the House of Commons whenever the mood strikes.

New Democrats on the other hand, directly addressed the public’s desire for change with a proposal to limit the prorogation power. The absent Liberal response did not go down well.

So yesterday, Ignatieff backtracked, jumping on the NDP’s bandwagon while exposing their nagging insecurity over the whole matter by suggesting to the media that their 7-point proposal had “trumped” the New Democrats’.

Enter, Ned Franks, Canada’s leading expert on constitutional and parliamentary procedure to take the air out of Ignatieff’s “Keep it Complicated, Professor” approach …

“Franks was not keen on the Liberal proposals, which he found unnecessarily complicated. He said history has shown that there's often good reason to prorogue after only a year or for longer than a month. He preferred the NDP's more straightforward proposal.”

But for his part, Layton has kept to his high-road approach, by welcoming Ignatieff's support and pledging to work with Liberals and the Bloc to put the breaks on future prorogations.

UPDATE: And then there's Coyne ... with a 369 year old word for the cynics.


JimBobby said...

I've responded to this post on my own blog.

Malcolm+ said...

JimBobby, you haven't offered up a response, you've offered up a half-baked casserole of wishful thinking and drug induced delusions.

Leaving aside the completely unsustainable belief that the Liberals actually disagree with the Conservatives on any substantive issue apart from who should have their noses in the trough, your "plan" works on the frankly idiotic assumption that every single living breathing New Democrat would, absent an NDP candidate, vote Liberal and vice versa. It then makes the even more unsustainable assumption that evvery single living breathing Liberal would vote NDP absent a Liberal candidate.

Research is pretty clear that many Liberals and New Democrats would simply not vote at all in such a scenario, that some number of New Democrats would actually vote Conservative and that Liberals, in that scenario, would be more likely to vote CONSERVATIVE than NDP or Green.

Your "plan" is already at a disadvantage because it would deliver an extra nine seats to the Conservatives defeating current NDP MPs. And in the 53 seats where the Liberals were second to the Bloc or the Conservatives, they'd have to have a NET retention of 90% of NDP and Green voters to gain the 47 seats they'd need to give the three parties a majority.

If you actually believe the idiotic plan you have suggested, then one or more of the following apply:

1. You know nothing about politics,

2. You know nothing about arithmetic,

3. You prefer a never-ending duopoly of two right wing parties and you want the NDP and Greens to commit electoral suicide.

JimBobby said...

Thanks for the ad homenim, Malcolm. You've at least proven that you put your party above all else, including what's best for the country. When Jack and Dion agreed to a coalition, were you as vitriolic?

When Dion and May made their Red-Green deal, it didn't get May elected but she did come in at a respectable second place against the dynastic Mackay.

I guess the better plan is to keep pushing for PR and expecting the main beneficiaries of FPTP to shoot themselves in the foot by giving up the unfair advantage they have now.

My "plan" as you so dismissively refer to it, includes NDP and GPC cabinet ministers. Your plan got any of those?

Work together to prove a coalition can succeed or dismiss any idea that doesn't play into the fantasy that the NDP will someday form a government.


(half-baked, drug-induced, arithmetically-challenged know-nothing)

Malcolm+ said...

A delusional "plan" is a delusional "plan" however you try to play it.

You fail to grasp that voter choice isn't a simple process. People vote the way they vote for a constellation of reasons - and for the vast majority of voters, it isn't blind partisanship.

You assume that Liberal, NDP and Green voters, absent a candidate of their own party, will do as they are told by self-appointed elites. If you really do believe that, then there is no point taking this any further because you aren't prepared to ground your arguments in reality.

Tell me, JimBobby. Are you prepared to admit that SOME Liberal, NDP and Green voters, absent a candidate of their preferred party, will simply not vote / will spoil their ballots / will cast their votes for minor parties? That is what both public opinion research and post facto Canada Election Studies have consistently shown.

Are you prepared to admit that SOME NDP and Green voters would choose the Conservatives over the Liberals? That is what both public opinion research and post facto Canada Election Studies have consistently shown.

Are you prepared to admit that A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER of Liberal votes would choose the Conservatives over the NDP or Greens? Public opinion research and post facto Canada Election Studies consistently show that a MAJORITY of Liberal voters would do precisely that.

The problem with your "plan" isn't merely that it is rooted in a phony-baloney "non-partisanship," but rather that it is completely without merit both strategically and tactically. IT WILL NOT WORK.

What is more, your silly "plan" is the surest means of ensuring the election of a Harper majority in the next election - and probably for several elections thereafter.

But then, your "plan" never really did have anything to do with thoughtful analysis or sound mathematics.

JimBobby said...

I guess you didn't really read my blog post before unleashing your personal attack. I wasn't only "prepared" to admit what you've alluded to. I stated it in my post. Here's what I said:

"Of course, my back-of-a-napkin plan has some obvious drawbacks. Died-in-the-wool Dippers, Grits and Greenies may well refuse to vote at all if they cannot vote for their favoured party. Some may even vote Conservative rather than vote Liberal, Green or NDP. So be it."

Surveys and studies of non-compete deals are meaningless when there has only been one such deal in living memory. If we don't want the Con's to prevail forever, we need to look for fresh ideas and sell them to the voters. Or, we can continue with the backstabbing and naysaying.

Keep on dreaming of the future NDP government or of FPTP-elected MP's voluntarily pushing for PR. Keep on demonstrating how NDP supporters are completely unwilling to work together with other parties to remove the dictator Harper. Keep on lacing your arguments with personal insults. You're doing a great job of proving why political cooperation is impossible and why Harper or some other CPC clone will be on the throne for the foreseeable future. Oh yeah, throw in a few ALL CAPS shouts to make your points even stronger.

BTW, I don't think you answered my question about your reaction to Jack's willingness to enter into a coalition in December 2008. Have you called for his removal as leader? Was he silly? Delusional? Drug-addled?

I was among the thousands who protested in Toronto last Saturday. As I stood there and then marched shoulder to shoulder with NDP supporters, Liberals, Greens and non-partisans, I was truly inspired. I was filled with hope that we could move beyond petty differences for the good of Canada. Congratulations, Malcolm. You've taken a fair bit of that hope away with your cynicism and "it can't be done" attitude.

FWIW, I was extremely skeptical of the 2008 coalition plan. Not because it was illegal or unworkable but because the general public needed a much better sales pitch to refute the CPC's "power grab" talking point. The coalition does not only have to be legitimate (and it is), it needs to be accepted as legitimate by the citizenry who would be governed under such a coalition.

When the citizenry hears and sees an unwillingness to compromise, coupled with the "coalition = power grab" mantra of the CPC, it rejects the idea. While they're wrong to accept the CPC's lies and labeling, you're proving they're correct in thinking that a lack of cooperation between NDP and LPC would doom any coalition to failure.

Malcolm+ said...

There is a difference between a post-election arrangement based on seat distributions and a false and anti-democratic deal that delimits voter choice based on a backroom deal brokered by elitists.

Now, pay attention to your proviso and you will see that it is the straw that breaks the back of that silly-assed camel you've constructed.

MOST Liberals, denied a Liberal candidate, will vote Conservative. That's what Liberal voters tell the pollsters before an election and what they tell the political scientists after the election. It is consistent with the findings of those who analyse election results (ie, the collapse of the Liberals in most of western Canada leads to the election of more Conservative MPs).

So, your plan automatically takes 11 more or less marginal seats (8 Conservative-NDP marginals, 2 Conservative-Green marginals and 1 Bloc NDP marginal) out of play and further adds up to 9 new Conservative seats in NDP-Conservative marginals.

Of the remaining 53 marginal seats, securing the coalition majority you say you want requires the Liberals taking 47 of 53 - a circumstance that depends on 90% NET retention of NDP and Green votes in these Conservative-Liberal marginals.

I don't care how much you wish it were so, a 90% NET retention is simply not realistic. If one in ten NDP / Green voters opts to stay home, the Liberals cannot win. CES indicates the number is likely to be much higher than one in ten. If one in 20 NDP / Green voters opt for the Conservatives, the Liberals cannot win. CES indicates the number is likely to be much higher than one in 20. Some NDP / Green voters staying home and some voting Conservative in almost any configuration makes your "plan" utterly unworkable.

Buying 6/49 tickets is not a financial strategy and your "pre-election coalition" scheme is not an electoral strategy. All the wishing in the world will not make it so.

Political dilletantes and Liberal operatives can relish this electoral wet dream all they want. Over hear in the real world, we'll try to come up with some plans that might actually work.

JimBobby said...

Now I'm an elite? A dilletante? A Liberal operative? Aren't those the CPC's epithets?

I'm still waiting for you to tell me about your reaction to Layton's willingness to enter into a coalition with the Liberals.

I'm glad you are able to shout about what MOST Liberals would do in a hypothetical situation. Got any links to those polls?

Since you're so adept with numbers, you probably know that fewer than 10% of Canadians actually belong to a political party. You probably also know that close to 40% of eligible voters don't vote, at all.

It may not be as much of a wet dream as the fantasy of a NDP majority, but I'd be willing to bet that voter turnout would increase if voters could see parties cooperating for the good of the country rather than taking the "we're the only ones with any good ideas" attitude.

Much of your argument is based on the idea that highly partisan voters would stay away from the polls. I don't disagree with that and had you bothered to read my original post, you wouldn't have dwelt on it so heavily.

My rebuttal to that argument is that cooperation and a desire to topple the dictator would bring many self-disenfranchised non-voters back to the ballot box. Got any polls on that one? Voters are turned off by hyper-partisanship and by the idea that their vote is meaningless due to vote-splitting and FPTP.

Did I mention that I'm interested in your opinion of Layton's participation in the 2008 coalition? Is Jack Layton a Liberal operative? A dilletante? FWIW, I've never thought so.

Malcolm+ said...

You don't seem to graspo that there is a difference between parties making agreements AFTER an election and parties making self-defeating electoral deals. The proposed coalition was the former. Your proposal is the latter. While I had reservations about last year's deal (particularly the way the Liberals blindly built in the very weakness that killed the coalition - the insistence on Prime Minister Dion), I fully accepted the legitimacy and merit of a coalition.

And I've already told you that. But that was in reality, a place where you don't spend much time.

There has been ample polling on second choice scenarios in recent elections, but the more significant data is the results of the Canada Election Studies which have followed the last several elections. Given how little you clearly know about politics, its no surprise you've never heard of them.

The CES consistently indicates that Liberal VOTERS (not Liberal partisans, Liberal voters) are far more likely to vote Conservative than NDP in the absence of a Liberal candidate. This isn't a one-off. It is the consistent result over the course of several elections.

Of course, you are now trying to set aside any sort of objective analysis by pinning your colours to the mast of some romantic flowering in democratic participation because so many usual non-voters will be so enamored of a backroom deal to limit their electoral choices.

Well, I suppose if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.

In the meantime, you've got nothing and your "plan" is still stupid, suicidal and a sure path to a Harper majority.

Thanks for coming out.

JimBobby said...

I'm still waiting for your verdict on Layton's willingness to enter into a coalition with the Liberals. I asked that question respectfully and politely, despite your personal insults and outright rudeness. You have, so far, refused to answer.

As I said earlier, a coalition needs to not only *be* legitimate. It must be *seen* to be legitimate.

It's not that I don't grasp what you are saying about pre-election versus post-election postures. I simply believe in being upfront with the voter and asking them to vote for a coalition. That way, it cannot be painted as a "coup" or a "power grab."

The fact that voters did not vote for a coalition in 2008 and were then confronted by such a possibility is exactly why the Cons were so successful in defining it as illegitimate.

I asked for links to the polls you've cited. You called me stupid and uninformed.

I think my points about hyper-partisanship and intransigence have been well illustrated. Thanks for that.

I may come back here but probably won't. When I treat someone with respect and politeness, I tend to expect the same courtesy in return. Good luck winning votes with incivility and insults.

Malcolm+ said...

1. I've answered the question twice. I'll answer it a third time. This time I'll type slowly.
Post election coalitions good. Pre-election electoral deals dumb. Got it?

2. The CES can be found using a neat new tool called Google. They are currently migrating to a new wesite. http://ces-eec.org/ will go live in February. Numerous scholars have written on aspects of the CES.

3. You probably shouldn't blame the Bloggingh Horse for my manners.

4. Your methodology still amounts to an assumption that supporters of the three "electoral coalition" parties - or at least an overwhelming majority - would, with sheeplike obedience," vote for whichever one of the three was left on the ballot in their particular constituency. While you admit that some would choose not to vote and that some would even vote Conservative, you minimize the significance of these data sets, you assume that it is limited to hard core partisans and you fail to hoist in the arithmetic implications of both of these factors - that the non voters reduce the non-Conservative pool and that the ones who choose to vote Conservative have a double effect (ie, that the "coalition" party must gain, not only more votes than the margin, but another vote for each vote the conservatives gain).

5. This silly "truth" gets touted about regularly. No one who advocates it has ever been prepared to defend it based on reasonable assumptions about voter behaviour, consistently retreating to empty accusations that realist criticisms are merely due to blinkered partisanship.

6. I outlined three possibilities for why you were putting up this feckless startegy. I did miss one. It is possible that you realize what an abysmal dead end it really is and that you actually realize that this would secure Tory majorities for at least the next two elections.

Malcolm+ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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