28 December 2020

Mind the Gap #nlpoli

There is no shortage of gaps in politics in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Regular readers will be familiar with the Credibility Gap.  That’s the space between what a politician says and what the politician does.

Marketers forget that when it comes to reputation and hence lasting, reliable political support, actions speak far louder than words. They talk about brands and branding.  If you spend any time digging into brands and branding you will find really vague definitions that quickly lead you to the revelation that brands are for marketing what dependency theory and neo-liberalism are for left-wing academics.

True in civilian marketing. 

Doubly true in political marketing.

The gap between words and actions may not turn up right away but it does have an impact.

So take a look at the end of four months of Andrew Furey’s premiership at the number of times he has talked about “big, bold ideas”.

Now looked at his actions.

Nothing big or bold about them.

And the ideas are very familiar.  Pour government money into this hole or that.  Hold a government-issue dog and pony show to watch the politicians pouring public money into the hole.

Rinse.  Repeat.

Furey is new. 

He has time to close the gap.

But he has to close the gap.

Leaving a gap killed Dwight Ball.

Spring 2016.

Ed Martin.

The gap between what Dwight Ball said – I did not approve his severance – and what the records showed (yeah, he did) was so obvious only Dwight couldn’t see it while he was screaming at people.

Literally screaming at people.

Dwight had a year to fix things.

He didn’t.

He died.

Not right away.

But eventually. 


Zombie Dwight wandered the political landscape for four more years before they finally pried his fingers off the door-jams.

He is still shuffling around Twitter drooling platitudes.

He did a lot of political damage in the meantime.

Like rate mitigation.

Enormous gap.

Promise after promise and yet zero delivery.

Repeat Furey version came just before Christmas.

Like we told you last week after the latest Mega-Announcement of Impending Joyfulness©, “people have heard it all before.  They tune out the blah blah blah within 24 hours, at the most. Most pay it no heed.”

Now we have proof. 

NTV Question of the week found that 53% of respondents were splindifferent about the splendiferousness of the news.  Not gonna make a difference to their power bills.

Over at VOCM, their Question of the Day found two thirds of respondents felt the same way as the ones over at NTV.

People have not only tuned out.  They don’t seem to have much confidence in the government coming up with a solution to the impending electricity rate disaster.

Consider this a big gap with those other polls that show people very satisfied with the provincial government or extremely supportive of the governing Liberals.  Doesn’t mean the Liberals will lose the next election.  Just consider the rate mitigation poll results – more than half don’t think the most recent announcement will do anything – as a softness in those expressions of love for the crowd currently running the place.

Kinda gap that gave Dwight Ball a minority government when all the polls heading into the election in 2019 said a comfortable majority.

Not something the Liberals these days cannot change but they have to see it as an issue in order to address it.

There are more gaps.  Not the one between the expectation of the folks who own the mall when they announced The Gap was coming back and the people who yawned when they heard about it.


Real gaps.

Like the one between the opposition parties that won’t threaten an election, which is the one thing they have to keep a minority government on track or willing to bend to the opposition will. Oh jeeebus, they cried in unison, in the last session of the House, do what you want.  We won’t bring down the government.

Normally, there’d be an election coming so the governing minority crowd could get some certainty.

Everyone expects an election soon, but the truth is the Liberals could easily ride this one out for another two or three years and do what they want in the meantime.

There are more gaps.

Like the one between what the government takes in from taxes and what it spends. 

There’s a related gap between what the politicians know they need to do about the deficit and what the public will support.

Politicians have been promising to do something about the deficit since 2015, at least, and every year they have failed to deliver.  They *talk* about doing something but they *do* nothing.

Money from Ottawa is a favourite promise.

Any day now.

And any day then, nothing shows up.

But it is not the only promise of miracle cures from Ottawa.

The latest one is a gaggle of folks fixing government spending problems, diversifying the economy, and curing cancer. 

One of those might be a rumour.

But here’s the thing.

Maybe at the end of February, The Team might not deliver on the promise of a draft plan.

Then at the end of April, there might not be a final version of the draft plan the politicians can set working with a mouse click.

There will be something but not a fold-out, self-implementing cure-all.

No five-minutes-to-the-end-of-the-episode miracle wrap-up to every loose end that people are expecting.

Just a bunch of good ideas.

That’ll be a gap, for sure.

And then there’s the other bunch working on the “social determinants of health” strategic strategy healthy health plan thingy.

That’s another Ghost of Gap Yet to Come.

Anyone looking for a clean ending to this tale will be disappointed.  This is a province, after all, that reputedly is obsessed with its own history.

Yet no one seems to remember what actually happened. 

They know fantasy versions.  Completely made-up stuff.  Fairy tales of things that happened within the lives of people who are teenagers today.

These people don’t see gaps.

Unfortunately, that’s not the same as minding them.