Sticking With Harper
Until recently, there was rampant speculation that Stephen Harper would step down before the next election. Kind of a “quit while you’re ahead” type of strategy. Liberal has-been, Warren Kinsella, wrote this article back in July and his sentiment wasn’t unique. When the whole senate scandal thing went down a few months ago, the Harper-haters were in ecstasy. They felt they finally had a scandal with a punch, and they did. It was pretty bad, but nevertheless, Harper will remain in office.
The Conservative Party of Canada is still, despite recent fumbles, the best and only choice for conservative-minded Canadians. Stephen Harper is, likewise, the best person to currently lead the party. Although some have speculated about possible replacements, history has shown that it’s never a good idea to replace a winning conservative leader.
Here’s some examples...
#1. Margaret Thatcher in 1990 - The UK
Margaret Thatcher was always a polarizing figure. People loved her, but an even greater number of people hated her. As a result her iron fisted hold on power was tolerated, only so long as she was winning. After a third majority win in 1986, the members of the Conservative Party began to look at opinion polls as though they were worth something. Polls showed the Tory’s were unpopular compared to the Labour Party and the old boys in Parliament got nervous. They finally banded together against Margaret Thatcher and forced her out of office, while she was still Prime Minister.
One more lucky win by her replacement John Major and then the Tory’s were kicked out of office for 13 years. In 2010, they won the election, but with only a minority mandate. They formed an official coalition with the Liberal-Democrats (British NDP) and are now trailing massively behind Labour in the same opinion polls they gave credence to in the 90’s.
So to recap: They ousted the most successful conservative Prime Minister of the century, and replaced her with a one term wonder. Then lost power for 13 years. Then won it back, barely and with the help of socialists. Now they’re set to lose in 2015.
Moral of the story: Leave the leader in charge.
#2. Ralph Klein in 2006 - Alberta
Ralph Klein won 4 majority mandates in Alberta and became legendary for paying off the provincial debt. The ‘Alberta Advantage’ was all Ralph Klein and in his last election he won with 62 out of 83 seats.
Nevertheless, there was feeling in the party and amongst the population that Ralph Klein was past his expiration date. The government was adrift and unambitious. It was time for a change. So when a leadership review handed Klein a 55% approval rating, he realized that the party had simply had enough of him and left early.
A leadership race was held. Due to a quirk in the voting system, the third place candidate, Ed Stelmach, instantly became Premier. He then spent 5 years being the worst Premier in the history of Alberta. He was dumped and replaced, due to a quirk in the voting system, by mercenary leftist, Alison Redford. Together these back-to-back Premiers unleashed economic destruction, political embarrassment, and massive deficits onto an unsuspecting populace.
Although the PC brand has proven resilient despite years of abuse, it is highly likely that the end is near for the party. People gave Stelmach an initial chance, then they gave Redford a chance to make up for Stelmach. Where to from here?
Since February, the Wildrose Party has been polling ahead of the PCs.
#3. John Diefenbaker in 1967 - Canada
John Diefenbaker successfully led the Progressive Conservatives to 3 electoral victories in 1957, 1958 and 1962. He was a barnstormer of a politician that was loved and lampooned by people coast-to-coast.
During his last term in office, his cabinet began to turn against him. He fended them off and then successfully held Lester Pearson to a minority mandate in 1963. Then the Bay Street wing of the PC Party began stirring up dissent in 1964. He fended them off and held Lester Pearson to a second minority mandate in 1965. At this point in his career, he was pushing 70 and the end was near anyway, but PC party president, Dalton Camp used a variety of dirty tricks to force a leadership convention for 1967. Diefenbaker lost to Robert Stanfield. At the convention he gave one more speech...
“My course has come to an end. I have fought your battles and you have given me that loyalty that led us to victory more often than the party has ever had since the days of Sir John A. Macdonald. In my retiring, I have nothing to withdraw in my desire to see Canada, my country and your country, one nation.” - John Diefenbaker.
Pierre Trudeau wins 3 elections and radically transforms Canada. Pierre steps down in 1979, and less than 9 months later decided to come back for another 4 years. The Progressive Conservatives were basically locked out of power for 17 years after they forced Diefenbaker out.
These are just three examples of maintaining party unity for success and progress. You may not love the leader of your chosen political party, in fact, you may not even like them, but support should be shown nonetheless.
Conservatives, especially, have a tendency to go after their own. This pursuit of personal preference is a gift to leftists. Internal division opens up weaknesses for our true opponents to exploit. When this happens, conservatism suffers. The old saying that, “The perfect is the enemy of the good” comes to mind in these situations.
Four Step Advice:
#1. If you are dissatisfied with the leadership of your chosen party, you should voice your concerns, but continue your support.
#2. If your concerns aren’t addressed, give it time and maintain your reluctant support.
#3. If the situation becomes untenable then withdraw your support.
#4. If another party offers an alternative that meets your needs, support them.
Do not stick around with a broken party led by someone you dislike and then try to undermine and overthrow. It’s a ruinous and negative path that ultimately backfires. An honest election loss opens the door for transformation. This is the time for input and activism. Until then, work within the system, voice concerns and always support the leader.