Category: Columns Published on Saturday, 28 April 2012 06:40 Written by Steve Val
Every government has a shelf life, prior to outright rejection you begin to see erosion on trust, competence, it's the first sign of moving past your "prime" as a political force. In recent weeks, the cynical and jaded have scoffed at the scandals swirling around these Conservatives, but given they go right to the issues of trust and competence, I've found the dismissive tone from some quarters amateurish in analysis. In other words, when voters stop trusting you, when they think you are dishonest, when they feel you are pulling the wool, when there's a sense of cheating, it's NEVER welcome news for a government. In addition, once people flip that switch, regaining said trust isn't easy, a known quantity doesn't just recreate themselves, there is a tarnish which can last.
Conservatives have a rock solid base of support, a divided "opposition" to their policies tends to insulate from full electoral impacts. However, a spate of polling today brings some serious warning signs that intimate the "best before" date may have passed, Harper in all his majority glory is starting to wear thin.
Perhaps the most concerning finding today comes from Nanos finds a dramatic drop for Harper on trust and competence. I've watched polls for some time and rarely have I seen such a large drop, Harper's numbers have effectively fallen off a cliff. Nanos notes a "new low" for Harper, clearly these issues that many in the punditry have dismissed are resonating in an important way. A Prime Minister normally enjoys healthy advantage on these measures, Harper's numbers are downright dreadful, well below base support, a significant problem is apparent. Given how leaders drive their party's, particularly in a campaign, another red flag for future Conservative prospects. I'm not suggesting anything definitive, or extrapolating to the long, long road until all this stuff actually matters, only there is some germination at hand. History suggests these type of findings can be a precursor to waning future fortunes.
A Forum Research poll actually gives the NDP the edge nationally, but honeymoon warping aside, I find the F35 findings more problematic moving forward. Canadians don't believe the Conservatives on this file, they have no faith that this government is acting ethically or will do so moving forward. Again the key word is "trust" here, and that is in short supply on a file which will hang around and haunt this government.
There is no word that has more political significance than "trust", without it you are nowhere, you can have all the slogans, goodies, arguments you want, if people don't trust you, you're dead in the water. Canadians are getting a taste of the Conservatives in their full majority regalia and it would appear they are less than impressed. Again Harper benefits from certain divided political realities, but the dramatic drop in personal stature is objectively worrying.
Try to get rid of tarnish, do an experiment, it's never easy...
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