The images of Harper, Ignatieff and Layton: The politics of obscurity nastiness and lack of direction for Canada.
Harper’s image is akin to an iceberg. There is a whole lot below the surface that you don’t want to know about. A kind of smart shiftiness. You are glad that what you see never turns too negative before your eyes. When he plays the piano and sings it is a relief that some nasty thing didn’t happen. This image may be his strength. There is always the possibility that his real personality may surface and that creates an environment pregnant with potential drama.
Ignatieff on the other hand always looks as if he is about to give us a lecture. He has a professorial veneer that borders on snooty. His persona as a man of the people hovers alongside his aristocratic demeanor where he may at any moment start dispensing noblesse oblige to the less fortunate. He isn’t clearly defined. He has no edge or bite and people know that nice guys finish last at least in the politics of the current Ottawa run by the Harper government.
Then we have the truly unctuous morality of Jack Layton who always knows that he will never have implement anything he says on the campaign trail. He sounds so plausible and can do as he wishes as he simplifies the national debate into a series of sunny simple cartoon panels.
So why does Harper collect more support in the polls? I think it is because his image is so problematic and potentially dangerous. It is a branding something akin to his attack ads on TV. Contrasted against this situation Ignatieff looks like Mr. Nice Guy sadly decent and out of his depth in the dirty world of Canadian minority government politics. It’s the same reason why negative campaign ads work. It’s a grubby world and only the fittest survive.
Layton can glad hand the electorate because he has nothing to loose. He knows he will be third in English Canada and have no influence of any consequence in French Canada. He also knows that he can get hold of the balance of power in any minority parliament. When Jack Layton says he is running for prime minister every one knows that notion is an unrealistic fairy tale. It sends voters to Harper who has become the Master of Minority Governments. If Jack Layton really thought Canada needs a strong majority government then he would become a Liberal. He likes holding the balance of power for the Conservatives it makes the NDP and Jack Layton a player on the status quo stage in Ottawa.
© Copyright 2011, Tom Thorne, All Rights Reserved