Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Manitoba Election 2

The negative ads turn people off and they often work. Even the federal NDP in the last election ran negative ads despite the impression that they ran a positive campaign.

Remember that ad?

However, it ended in the soft approach of Jack Layton saying he'd be different. That is easier to do than defend against a record in government.

Ultimately, the ads that were most effective for the NDP and the Tories were against the Liberals. Even before the election was run, the impression was set of Michael Ignatieff and the Liberals.

In the provincial election of 2011, the provincial NDP under Greg Selinger has pulled out the nastiest campaign we have seen in the 1980s when the PCs and NDP were all alone in the legislature to spout hatred of one another. It was awful. And polarizing.

The ad campaign the NDP are running on privatizing Hydro is particularly brazen.

Can you imagine if ad campaigns against the NDP ran like this:

NDP plan to nationalize MTS!

NDP to introduce HST!

And so on...

At this point, it probably will be an out and out campaign of nastiness.

One thing is clear: The NDP have been in power 12 years and they do have a record to run on and defend. This can be a good and a bad thing.

They can take credit for some good things but it is going to be hard to trumpet reductions in crime when this year may outpace past years for murder, arson, drugs and gang activity. How many fires has the police helicopter put a stop to? Some parts of the province are a war zone.

And as far as economic activity goes, we are not doing as well as other provinces. There is an increasing gap in now much tax Manitoba pays relative to other provinces.

Our education program which really is directed from the province down is not producing results. There are too many school divisions, too much interference when a division wants to close a small school, too much dependence on property tax to fund education and too few graduates.

Think of the two things above and we continue to see a net migration of people away from the province. Not good.

Greg Selinger can say that the province is making progress on a lot of things but people who have suffered crime, felt the tax sting and have had family move out of the province for better education or job opportunities are going to have to be convinced of the merits of having the NDP in another term.

The PCs under Hugh McFadyen tried scare tactics last election on crime but while it was a concern, the economy stability and popularity of Gary Doer was just too much to overcome for a new leader.

The NDP at the time used the most simple of attack techniques. They defined the leader before PCs could do that themselves.

The NDP commercials suggest they are going down this path again. The problem is whether the message will have the same impact as it did when no one knew Hugh McFadyen.

The NDP face their own problem of selling their leader whom the public doesn't know very well. Greg Selinger on the face of things seems joyless. Unlike Gary Doer, he doesn't look comfortable out in public and doesn't have the star appeal that the former premier did. In short, the man doesn't look like he would be comfortable having a beer at a Blue Bomber game.

Charisma and charm can go a long way. A negative campaign would likely work a lot better if Selinger had it as easily as Doer did.

The same applies to Hugh McFadyen. He has to be visible and people have to hear him speak. Television would appear to be the best bet. They might take a cue from Jack Layton's ad above.

As for the Liberals, Jon Gerrard has to be one of the more decent men in politics. He appears to have a few good people running and the Manitoba Legislature would be a poorer place with two polarized parties in it. The electorate would do themselves well to look at the policies of all the parties are and not fear who they vote for whether it be Greens or Liberal or whatever.

The NDP and PCs should guard against talking about wasted votes. The voice of Jack Layton could be embarrassing if used against the NDP on this matter. Likewise, the Tories would benefit from a stronger Liberal vote and shouldn't see it as harmful to their cause.

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