© Kevin Tobin
Cartoon, Oct. 3, 2013
Amazingly, many Progressive Conservatives think it is a good idea to keep Premier Kathy Dunderdale in charge of the party and the province.
Tory followers should reread Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade.”
With a few adjustments, the epic poem can describe the PCs’ impending decimation in October 2015: “All in the valley of electoral Death/Rode the Tory faithful/ ‘Forward, to the polls/Charge for a majority’ she said/Into the valley of electoral Death/Rode the Tory faithful.”
Everyone is gaga about technology and social media, but it seems long-dead poets still have something to teach society.
The Tories are doomed if they don’t ditch Dunderdale.
Most rank-and-file members of the Progressive Conservative party probably think they are displaying loyalty by not calling for her to resign, step down, step aside, retire, quit or go away.
But to impartial observers, their supposed loyalty looks a lot like stubbornness. In fact, they seem to be just as stubborn as their leader, a trait that partially explains her perpetual unpopularity.
The last two public opinion polls have put the premier’s popularity percentage in the 20s — significantly behind the NDP leader and the leaderless Liberals.
Danny Williams, the former premier who now toils as a hockey czar and suburban developer, consistently reached approval ratings in the 70s and 80s.
Dunderdale is no Danny, obviously, but she is nevertheless largely to blame for squandering the vast public support the PCs previously enjoyed. (Blame shared, it must be said, by former cabinet minister Jerome Kennedy, who this week did the semi-honourable thing and fell on his sword.)
How did Dunderdale squander the party’s popularity? Let us count the ways. Arrogance. Stubbornness. Condescension. Ineptness. Hubris. Ego. Etc.
Consider Bill 29, the infamous legislation that amends the province’s access to information act to make information less accessible.
The provincial government is releasing more information to the public than ever before, the premier told delegates at the recent Tory convention.
Dunderdale is apparently of the opinion that voters are so stunned they don’t understand the difference between quantity and quality.
The amount of information released to the public is less important than the quality of that information. Among other nasty attributes, Bill 29 gives cabinet ministers control over what information about their departments is released to the public — a feature that is inherently contrary to the purpose of freedom of information legislation.
Conservatives might be content to not know what Nalcor is spending its hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars on, but plenty of other people aren’t. (Note to backbenchers: that constant chorus of complaint you hear is the sound of the electorate intending to toss you back onto the opposition side.)
The silent subservience of Tory loyalists is going to hurt them not once, but twice.
First, keeping Dunderdale as leader will ensure a PC defeat in the next election.
Second, ignoring the ample evidence of their ongoing decline sends a message to the public that the Tories are a group too gutless to fight for their own survival.
A revolt within the party would actually be a good thing, in Tory terms. It would show that some Tories — like many voters — are disgruntled, dissatisfied, fed up, mad as hell and so on.
You can ride loyalty only so far before that horse starts to sound like fatal stubbornness.
Again, the PCs would do well to abide by Lord Alfred’s description of heading for oblivion: “Angry voters to right of them/Angry voters to left of them/Angry voters in front of them/Into the jaws of electoral Death/Into the mouth of ballot-box Hell/Rode the Tory faithful.”
Brian Jones is a desk editor at The Telegram. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org