16 September 2011

The Popcorn Calculation #nlpoli

From the Telegram’s editorial on Wednesday:

The problem is that, when the proposed appointment first came to light, Premier Kathy Dunderdale and Natural Resources Minister Shawn Skinner fell all over each other claiming that they — not Williams — were responsible for the appointment. …

Problem is, the only way to keep the glare from falling on Williams was to deliberately dissemble and mislead, and it appears that the politicians who remained in office were completely up to the task.

At the very least, the letter shows Dunderdale and Skinner have a facility in being less than candid.

That’s really the crux of the story that dominated political news coverage for the first three days of this week.

And you have to put that fact against a group of politicians who claim they came to office on a platform of openness, accountability and transparency.

What they’ve done is the opposite of what they’ve claimed they were about.

Skinner and Dunderdale opened up a huge credibility gap for themselves.  That’s bad news for politicians. 

Danny Williams managed to maintained credibility even when he said some absolutely incredible things.  People believed him no matter how big – or how obvious –the whopper.  And he told whoppers a lot more often than people admit.

Kathy is no Danny, not by a long shot.

So when she heads into an election  - even against the Liberals and the NDP as weak and disorganized as they both really are,  taking a blow to your credibility is never good.

Lots of people already have questions about Dunderdale.  The CRA polls, as fundamentally skewed as they are, still aren’t so crude that they missed the huge drop in leader support for Dunderdale compared to Williams.

What’s worse is the drop in party support.  It now stands at a mere 44% of respondents to the last CRA poll, once you take all the CRA torquing and massaging out.  In other words, it wouldn’t take much to put the Tories into a serious election problem.

How do people respond to claims about Muskrat Falls, for example, when the person who is telling them the whole thing is great is also the person who dissembled and misled – in the words of the Telegram editorialist – about something as comparatively trivial as Danny Williams’ role in the Liz Matthews nomination?

People looking at the current provincial government will also start looking at other examples like the Dunderdale Skinner performance.  Joan Burke on the MUN president, for example. 

Dunderdale on Joan Cleary and the Public Tender Act.

Kevin O’Brien.

Kathy Dunderdale and the Tories stand on the edge of the Gorge of Eternal Peril.  Dunderdale’s credibility is weakened. More people than before will think twice when she says something now.

The Tories aren’t likely to be swallowed up by the political chasm as a result. 

Amateurs think winning a campaign is about having a star leader.

It isn’t.

It’s about the ground game.

The logistics.

That’s still where the Tories have an advantage.  If the party district organizations hold, that alone will pull through seats the Tories might otherwise lose.  District level organization beyond one or two spots has been the traditional NDP weakness. If they’ve added some strength, they could have a stronger showing.

The Liberals have atrophied at the district level over the past couple of terms.  They’ve rebounded in a good few but overall the party is still far weaker than it ought to be.  You can put that all down to neglect of the basic party organization by the people right at the top.

And organization on the ground is what wins campaigns.

But if the internal splits and schisms evident in the Danny Williams outburst this week got wider…

Well, that might be a different matter.

Stay tuned. 

The election is only just starting in earnest. this could be a real Ginger- get-the-popcorn kinda show.

- srbp -