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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Canadian Tories put a dead cat on the table

Canadian general elections don't tend to feature that much in the British media but, with just 12 days to go the latest contest is starting to develop into an epic fight in which the left wing New Democrats Party has started to flounder leaving the Liberal Party to carry the opposition cudget.

The real news though is that Stephen Harper's Tories have dumped a metaphorical dead cat on the dining room table and have recovered their lead in the polls.The contest though remains within the margin of error and is neck and neck.

If any of that sounds familiar, then that is because there is a direct link between Stephen Harper's tactics and the UK Tory Party. It is Lynton Crosbie, one time advisor and guru to David Cameron.

As this article reports, the dead cat on the table is a speciality of Mr Crosbie has made his mark on the contest:

In 2013,[Boris] Johnson wrote a piece in the Telegraph about campaign tactics he learned from his “Australian friend”—Crosby. It’s worth reading the entire excerpt here: “Let us suppose you are losing an argument. The facts are overwhelmingly against you, and, the more people focus on the reality, the worse it is for you and your case. Your best bet in these circumstances is to perform a manoeuvre that a great campaigner describes as ‘throwing a dead cat on the table, mate.’

That is because there is one thing that is absolutely certain about throwing a dead cat on the dining room table—and I don’t mean that people will be outraged, alarmed, disgusted. That is true, but irrelevant. The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout, ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’; in other words, they will be talking about the dead cat, the thing you want them to talk about, and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.”

So there it is. The dead cat.

In the case of Canada the dead cat is the niqab issue: It’s all anyone can talk about. It fits perfectly into his agenda of security and fear of change. The NDP, which was once riding high on polls that showed Quebecers were ready to turf Harper, have whiplash. It has lost control of the agenda. It’s all niqab, all the time.

If Harper holds onto power in a three cornered contest he will have Lynton Crosbie to thank. But it ain't over yet and from my reading of the polls still too close to call.
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