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Gordon Brown: Kim Campbell's a coming o-ho, o-ho

The woman on the right is the former Prime Minister of Canada, Avril Phaedra Douglas "Kim" Campbell. The man on the left is the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, James Gordon Brown.
Both succeeded extremely successful and charismatic leaders, Tony Blair and Brian Mulroney respectively.
Both were committed student politicians and pioneers in their respective Universities.
Both had strong roots in their local politics- BC and Scotland respectively and both took with them some of the attitudes of their local politics to their respective national capitals which made them unpopular in the country at large.
Both struggled to cope with the constitutional mess that their predecessors had created: the failure of the Meech Lake accord for Campbell, the incomplete transformation of the UK into a Federation for Brown.
Both had a tin ear for what the country was asking of them and both faced economic crises. despite leading the most successful political machines of their generation, both have squandered their inheritance. Initially popular with their party, they were faced with increasingly powerful internal dissent.
The first past the post electoral system in Canada exaggerated the scale of the Progressive Conservative defeat, but the defeat had already become inevitable. It was crushing. The Progressive Conservatives lost all but 2 seats, including Campbell's own seat. The Liberals won, with just under 42% of the vote, the Separatist Bloc Quebecois won 13.52% but 54 seats to become the official opposition. The more right wing Reform party won more votes- 18.69%, but only 52 seats. Next came the Socialist New Democrats who gained nine seats on 7% of the votes.
The PCs with 16.04% actually gained the second highest number of votes, but the split under first past the post was catastrophic- an almost complete wipe out. It was the end of the Progressive Conservatives as a political force.
As Labour supporters clutch to the comfort of "core votes", it is as well to remember that first past the post can exaggerate the mood of the electorate. The massacre of the British Conservatives in 1997 was more complete because of the electoral system.
As Mr. Brown contemplates the wreckage of the disastrous budget, and as Harriet Harman polishes her invincible vanity, the outlook for Labour could be very bleak indeed.


Anonymous said…
I doubt it!

Unfortunatly the electorate geography does not look good for Sub 130 Labour seats!
Tabman said…
How many of the Labour victims will rue Blair's reneged-on promise of electoral reform?
Newmania said…
Still pining for your system when the Party no-one likes rules the roost are you , bet you `d love Party lists as well.I was shocked to learn that you once stood for Parliament that was a narow squeak for the country . Time and money must not be the problem for you it is for most of us.
On the subject of Harmanisation I would have expected you to support her , you Libs are usually pretty trembly lipped about wimmin and rights .In fact the non recognition if particularity is axiomatic for classic Liberalism hence your dark love for the hated HRA.
If you are going to steal Thatherite clothes economically surely you have to do all the trendy stuff or whats left ?
Estonia sounds very nice .I like the idea of 26% flat tax are there any lessons to be drawn from such a place about four times the size of Croydon though ?
Cicero said…
Hi tabbers- good to see you back to life- Spring and the Lib Dem sap is rising ;-)

Newmania you are still trying to project what you would *like* Lib Dems to believe rather than what we actually believe. I HATE Party lists.

I also strongly suspect I work longer hours than you- but I did have three weeks "holiday", and I think we made a point.

As for your comments about women- think harman is an authoritarian ratbag, but your comments border on mysogyny

Estonia IS very nice, but the flat tax is now set to be 20%.
Bryan Dunleavy said…
Nice try but the comparison won't stand up. The Canadian electoral system does not behave like the one in the Uk - voters tend to be much more regional in their preferences and mor frequently than you would imagine will switch from one party to another. The Quebec electorate, for example, swung from Liberal to Mulroney's conservatives to the Bloc Quebecois in a decade. In each case the swings were massive.
Mulroney's government had become very unpopular and when he announced his retirement all the senior figures in his government decided to return to private (corporate) life. Kim Campbell was a junior minister with very little experience but she was obviously bright and perhaps offered an acceptable face to the electorate.
She became Prime Minister but unlike Brown decided to go to the electorate immediately to get her own mandate.
They have very long (six week) campaigns in Canada and she was doing reasonably well for the first few weeks; then some McBride-type character on her team decided to take a shot at Jean Chretien's somewhat disfigured face (caused by youthful Polio I believe). The damage to her campaign was instantaneous and irreversible. People were revolted by this style of campaigning and that included natural and lifelong conservatives.
In this election they had somewhere to go because Preston Manning had been organizing his Reform Party for some years so voters in Ontraio, Alberta and BC, who would have normally voted Conservative went to Reform in great numbers. Mulroney Quebec Conservatives went to the Bloc, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba returned to the NDP.
I should dd that I was there. I worked on Campbell's campaign and I knew Brian Mulroney.
Kim Campbell was inexperienced and naive. She inherited a difficult situation, but in her defence I would say that she never had the opportunity to be a hopeless PM or a malignant force in Canadian politics. She is a footnote in Canadian history; Brown, however, will carry a worse reputation than Hoover.
Newmania said…
I also strongly suspect I work longer hours than you-

I strongly suspect that you suspicions are unfounded and I suspect you would be crying like baby after one day or my life . We shall never know

but your comments border on misogyny

Nicely judged then .

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