Monday, December 01, 2008

Growing ranks of disgruntled Conservatives

The spigot of Conservative dissent has really opened in the past few days. Such public complaining about Harper from within his own party is unprecedented for a leader who has ruled with almost lockstep unity. See posts from the weekend and the two further items below as examples. These musings of disloyalty suggest that there may be something to the Conservative party leadership rumours (since all we've seen are anonymous websites.)

So I am beginning to wonder whether we might hear Harper resignation rumours in the coming days. It's looking increasingly bad for him. The coalition talk is not ceasing. They are outwardly undeterred from any of his attacks thus far. Its structure and 30 month term are being reported. Big support for it in Quebec. He has been reduced to waving around taped NDP conference calls as some big kind of "a-ha" moment when all it really shows is that the opposition are doing their jobs, but he's not. If there is no game-changing development, then what does he do?

Face the music next week and then withdraw gracefully by resigning? Because the knives will certainly be out. Or prorogue and fight, possibly bringing his party down with him. The big question is whether he has the support of his party to prorogue now and suffer the humiliation that would ensue in having to withdraw after barely a week in session after the throne speech. It doesn't sound like there's any more support for his games within his party, given the backtracking we've seen, but who knows. Then down the road there's the prospect of his fighting an election against a new Liberal leader from a weakened position. Think Harper will stick around for that or that his party would let him?

Harper did muse about resigning at the end of the election campaign if he didn't win, recall, and he's been known to do it at other moments of rejection as well.

The disgruntlement today can be found in this expansion by Don Martin on his previous column, confirming the author of the attack on party financing:
"...the bottom line was that Stephen Harper made a serious mistake when he ignored his chief of staff and pleas from several ministers not to include in the fiscal update the partisan death of a program that gives political parties $1.95 a year for every vote received in the previous election.

He faced a wall of condemnation from not only all the usual suspects, but his supporters as well. It was such an obvious political sabotage mission that nobody ever seriously believed it was a cost-savings move."
He ignored his chief of staff and several ministers. This is new about the chief of staff. Much more specific information from Martin here. Where do we suppose that level of detail is coming from? The PMO or one of said ministers or staff? And here's confirmation that the grassroots effort is not going swimmingly:
Several Conservatives grumbled over the weekend that his decision to use the economic update to announce measures that galvanized the opposition, like slashing their funding, was a fiasco. One MP told The Globe and Mail that his constituents were upset with the party for playing politics under the cover of the economic crisis.
Maybe sending them home to engage in a p.r. war wasn't such a good idea. Maybe a Conservative caucus meeting might have been in order given the weekend's developments. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, that kind of thing.