Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How some Lib Dems misunderstand the rise of Justin Trudeau

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Ed Davey writes on Liberal Democrat Voice:
If you compare our recent slow recovery with Canada’s Liberals’ fast-track to power, you’ll of course find quite a few differences – but for me the biggest is that Canada’s Liberal Party went big on reform – and grew massively as a result.
But how similar were positions the Canadian Liberals and the British Liberal Democrats faced a few years ago.

The answer is that they were not similar at all.

As the new issue of Liberator reminds us, the Canadian Liberals are their country's natural party of government, having been in power or the official opposition for all but four of the last 144 years.

So you could well argue that it would have been remarkable if the Canadian Liberals hadn't bounced back significantly after coming third in 2011.

Sadly, all this is a world away from the history of the Liberal Democrats and the parties that merged to form us.

There is an irony here. The Canadian Liberals' debacle at the 2011 federal election came after they had adopted another of the ideas being urged on the Liberal Democrats by the leadership. They appointed a leader from outside the political bubble.

Michael Ignatieiff - a distant kinsman of Nick Clegg - was an academic and broadcaster, known in Britain ("the thinking-woman's crumpet") from his spell as a television arts presenter. He also wrote a good biography of Isiah Berlin.

The Canadian Liberals' bounce-back from their unprecedented third place in 2011 was to turn to a leader who was so deep in the bubble it's a wonder he could breathe.

Justin Trudeau, of course, is the son of the former Canadian prime minister and Liberal leader Pierre Trudeau.

The Lib Dems should be open to new ideas from every quarter, but I am sceptical of the idea that the recent experience of the Canadian Liberals offers us a blueprint for guaranteed success.

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