This time they got it right. I’m talking about the Dunderdale crowd, the ones who often get targeted for doing a poor job of communicating their message. Their spin after Tom Osborne’s flight from the PC ranks was dead-on; the puppets in caucus obviously got their speaking notes handed to them in bold. The problem is, they forgot something they often preach: people don’t like bullies.
I know I’m a bit late on this, but it has to be said. There are several Tories who should be ashamed of themselves. The nasty, vindictive reaction to Osborne’s decision was ridiculous. Some of the crowd had best buy yoga pants to keep them comfortable in the bending and stretching of politics and friendship.
I’d love to see the notification that must have been sent out even as Osborne was in front of the cameras. Oh right, those internal political messages are probably on the list of things access to information doesn’t allow. Suffice to say, the Tory lampposts were probably told to use those now famous words. Tom was disconnected, disengaged, deadwood. The boys — and some girls — from the hill were on Twitter like wolves baying at the moon. I wonder if even for a moment any of the crowd remembered in their dirty comments like “good riddance” that they were tearing down a family that had kept the party going when being Tory was almost a dirty word.
Let’s look at a few obvious points neglected in some of the commentary on the Osborne escape. He ran under a leader he didn’t support. He’s not the only one and it happens after every leadership contest. Even unsuccessful leadership candidates often find themselves in the cabinet of the elected leader. Yes, Tom Osborne probably did tell Kathy he would endorse her. He showed unity at a time when it was needed, when some were wondering how an interim leader who wasn’t going to run for the leadership suddenly became the only candidate.
So Osborne voted for that controversial freedom of information bill, even though he didn’t like it. Much has been made about that. Hello — what do we think party whips are for? The online encyclopedia Wikipedia says “a whip is an official in a political party whose primary purpose is to ensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are a party’s ‘enforcers,’ who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy.”
Hmm. I guess Osborne had plenty of choice in that vote. And if he had chosen at that particular time to stand up to his own crowd, who would have suffered? Not him. He had it coming anyway. His constituents likely, and maybe some of the things that might go undone in his riding or the next time he needed to call a cabinet minister’s office to seek help for a resident of St. John’s South.
Do you think for a second that every single government MHA agrees with every single piece of legislation that goes through the House of Assembly? Not a chance. Party discipline means they toe the line.
The premier says Osborne had indicated only six months ago he wanted a greater role in her government. What would be so surprising about that? Maybe he wanted to try change from within, instead of peeing outside the tent.
Wouldn’t the party have been better off trying to mend the fence, to work with him instead of around him? Isn’t that what a team does, rally around the player who may be hurt, on a bad streak or having a rough time of it?
The knives from caucus have gotten more than Osborne’s blood. They also sport the plasma of some silent lambs, who now see what will happen should they dare raise objections to Muskrat Falls or other government measures.
Fabian Manning, who has some experience in being on the outs with provincial Tories, told VOCM that sitting as an independent is a very lonely place.
You can be lonely sitting in a room with 36 other people.
Tom Osborne already knows how that feels.
Gerry Phelan is a journalist and former broadcaster. He can be reached at