Wednesday, October 5, 2011

McFadyen blames NDP's sowing of "Fear and Deceit" for loss? Hardly.

In 1969, after losing to Ed Schreyer, defeated PC Premier Walter Weir infamously proclaimed: "The people have spoken. And the people are wrong."  Thankfully, defeated Manitoba PC leader Hugh McFadyen didn't pull a Walter Weir last night. No, instead of pulling a Weir; in defeat McFadyen pulled "a McFadyen". After being bested by Premier Greg Selinger's NDP machine, Mr. McFadyen told his shell-shocked PC supporters they'd lost because: "in Manitoba it appears that fear and deceit have won the day." Harrumph... hardly.  Despite the negative tenor of the NDP campaign (and make no mistake, it was negative) it wasn't the NDP's sowing of "fear and deceit" that sealed Hugh McFadyen's fate last night... Hugh McFadyen did it to himself.

Now did I want Hugh McFadyen to win last night? No, absolutely not. Greg Selinger deserved to win his own mandate and, having done so, I am optimistic he will govern us ably over the next four years. That being said: Do I think Hugh McFadyen could have and should have run a better campaign? Yes, absolutely.

Had Hugh McFadyen run a better and smarter election campaign he may very well have won 24-27 seats last night.  Had he run a campaign truly based on hope and "vision" he could have damaged the NDP brand and put Selinger on the defensive for the next four years. And, had McFadyen run a quality campaign, he could have remained at the helm of a PC party ideally positioned to win power in 2015. But McFadyen didn't run a dynamic campaign with a difference; instead, he ran a reactionary campaign: one that saw him call the Premier a liar on everything from the deficit to taxes, from health to Bi-pole, from crime to employment, and beyond. Instead of providing the electors with a forward looking cohesive narrative, he instead tried to instil within the voters a deep-seated "fear" of four more years of NDP rule. He preferred to bemoan the NDP's twelve year reign rather than expound clearly and concisely upon what his PC party would do differently over the span of the next four. Finally, he absolutely failed to project an image of a man who was confident in his own abilities and at peace with his party's policy platform. In short, he failed to lead.

When a losing politician publicly voices post-vote sour grapes, it leaves the whole polity with a bad aftertaste. Hugh McFadyen did this last night. By trying to place the blame for his defeat on an NDP campaign he says was rooted in "fear and deceit" McFadyen is conveniently forgetting to admit his own complicity in the same equation. True, Manitoba votes 2011 was an ugly no holds barred political campaign. But McFadyen entered the bare knuckled melee willingly, and after having swung away only to lose - its poor form for McFadyen to look at his bruised and bloody knuckles and now complain he lost because his opponents were playing by the same rules. He took the gloves off, they took the gloves off - fair is fair. When announcing his resignation as PC leader last night Hugh McFadyen need not have stooped to blaming the NDP's campaign tactics. His failure to lead was really what had sealed the deal... and his resignation said it all. It's a pity he chose to lash out, for in the end, rightly or wrongly: "The people have spoken."