Ignatieff: Looking for a fight

I don’t give blanket praise for all things Liberal, but I’m pretty impressed with this Ignatieff winter riding tour announcement for a number of reasons. The Liberals spend way to much time on the defensive, why that is we can analyze for eternity. Quite refreshing to see an initiative which ignores the negativity swirling around and gets aggressive:

Ignatieff will use the winter outing to take direct aim at vulnerable rival MPs.

All 20 ridings Ignatieff is scheduled to visit are currently held by the Conservatives, NDP or Bloc Quebecois.

They are among the top ridings Liberals believe they can steal away in an election, which could come as early as this spring.

Insiders say the tour will mark a more aggressive stage of Ignatieff’s pre-election sorties, what one strategist called “taking the fight to our opponents.”

A bit of moxy, a bit of swagger, why the hell not- they’re laughing at us anyway, so no danger on the perception front. I find it striking, that while everyone is digesting big, nonsensical ramifications relating to the nothing cabinet shuffle, the Liberals hatch a tour which is REAL and has clear intentions. It’s sort of a "cold shower" moment, because while we talk of vulnerable seats, nobody has bothered to realize it’s a TWO WAY STREET. Why in Ontario alone, there are around 20 seats the Liberals placed second, by less than 10%. In other words, TONS of seats in play, on all sides, this notion that Liberals sit idly while the Conservatives pick us off requires a tin ear. Factor in the volatility seen now for years in Ontario polls, and the one side arguments all the more suspect and intellectually lazy. I’m not suggesting for one second that vulnerabilities don’t exist, that the Liberals sit precariously, only that any seasoned observer knows elections are peculiar and much is in play, risk for all participants. 

I love this line:

As the strategist put it, Ignatieff intends to hammer away at a simple message: “If you vote NDP or Bloc to send Harper a message, you get Harper and he doesn’t get the message. So, if you want to get rid of Harper, you have to vote Liberal.”

I note, this angle is drawing the ire of all the other party supporters. That reaction confirms to me that this strategy is quite sound. Every party is trying to siphon off from others, so any "take offence" opinion from other partisans a bit rich to be honest. I commented early that it is shrewd to define the parameters of the next election early and often, as opposed to the hail mary "stop the Conservatives" message Liberals normally deliver in the closing days of a campaign. Get this frame out there, sell it hard, put the seed in voters minds, use succinct and pointed lines like the above, and I predict you might get some traction.

To take an offensive posture is also refreshing. That Ignatieff will also show off his campaigning stamina, another signal that should calm nerves about election abilities. Pull this tour off, after a mostly seem less summer tour, and one starts to have confidence that we will run a well oiled campaign. As far as I’m concerned, it’s about time we started to "take the fight to our opponents", as one who firmly believes nothing every comes to you, you MAKE your opportunities.

This tour won’t set the world on fire. This tour will probably be largely ignored in terms of certain narratives and now established mindsets. All that aside, I think this strategy, particularly the early message timing and required repetition, might well prove to be something we look back on as a key development.

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