Polygonic

That weren't no DJ, that was hazy cosmic jive

Britain’s Stéphane moment?

After the resignation of Paul Martin, when a dozen Liberals clamoured for the mantle of Party Leader, I will confess that I hoped the whole time that Stéphane Dion would win, and barring that, Bob Rae. I was gunning for Dion because I thought he was genuine, committed, progressive, and precisely because he was the “anti-Macchiavellian” – almost a non-politician.

Of course, I learned, as the Liberal Party did en masse, that apparently you need a Macchiavellian after all. Warm ideas, leftist compassion, complex but workable policy solutions, do not go far at all if not backed (or even supplanted) by ferocity, charisma, and a bit of populism and populist understanding.

I’m applying this lesson to the UK’s Labour leadership race (as I am wont to do) with its results announced tomorrow. OMG.

For the same reasons I once hoped for Dion, a good part of me now hopes for Ed Miliband. Ed is the one of warm ideas, of leftist compassion, of complex but workable policy solutions. He is not ferocious, he is not especially charismatic, and he looks to me as though he’d prefer to leave the room if a heated argument began to consume it. So, I like him.

But he’s too much like Stéphane Dion.

David can swing a political punch, and plays off a more carefully studied understanding of populist mood. He seems almost cold for his obvious lack of ideological fervour in him, but warms up on television with a better charisma and a ruthless passion to win the argument. What he might lack in sincerity, he overcompensates for in tactics. And, at the end of the day, the idealist wing of Labour will continue to have impact on the leadership, and will continue to guide the direction of the party.

So, rather than see a relatively weak character at the helm, I am doing away with an unalloyed fondness for Ed Miliband, and wishing that, for Labour to win, they will need to be tough. Canada’s Liberals are still looking for toughness, and I wouldn’t want to see Labour endure the Liberals’ recent history. In addition to that – whoever wins, David or Ed, let there please be no vindictive bitterness between them. Canada’s Liberals and the UK’s Labour both suffered from bipolar ganglandism, and to succeed, must unite – ideally with someone who can deliver a pep talk, draw a crowd, and mobilise mobilise mobilise.

So, with a bit of a heavy heart – Go David Go!

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Filed under: Politics, UK, , , , , ,

3 Responses

  1. One advantage Ed has over Stéphane – he can speak English coherently. I think that was one thing that really hurt Dion – his English was weak (and not at all amusing like Chrétien’s), and he really couldn’t get his message across effectively at all. I still remember the first press conference Ignatieff gave after being annointed leader – there was a palpable sigh of relief from Liberals everywhere that they had someone who at least spoke English coherently, even if he didn’t really have much to say…

  2. polygonic says:

    You’re right – and Chretien’s French was also imperfect! It was famously said of Chretien that he was our first PM who sounded bilingual in both official languages.

    He could get away with poor English better than Dion could, as the former could nevertheless win arguments (or at least dismiss them). And hey, “A proof is a proof because it’s proven” may not make a lot of sense, but it’s okay grammatically.

  3. […] I agree that Ed’s been remarkably swift to lead Labour into total drift, and would be totally despondent if they fought an election with him still […]

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