Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Brian Pallister: Hiring the Master

Tweets from Front Porch Strategies. Front Porch Strategies
consultant Jim Ross was hired by sole Manitoba PC
leadership candidate Brian Pallister.

 Source of images: Creekside

In a previous post I spoke of how Brian Pallister had learned from the masters through his time as an Alliance/CON MP in federal politics. I also commented on how slick his website is. It turns out that Pallister has hired someone who's a real master of rightwing electioneering: Jim Ross.

Jim Ross works as an Ontario-based consultant for the Ohio-based Front Porch Strategies, which specializes in robocalling to further rightwing and US Republican Party causes. They also do work in Canada for CON Party politicians.

Now, for some odd reason Pallister declined to be interviewed about this in late April. Jim Ross didn't respond to requests for comments at that time as well. According to the Winnipeg Free Press, campaign spokesperson Del Sexsmith said that "personnel and staff matters should be kept confidential". I wonder how such secrecy chimes with Pallister's "core value" of accountability.

The US website for Front Porch strategies states the following:
Front Porch Strategies is an award winning international voter contact and constituent communications firm based out of Columbus, Ohio. Our passion is helping Republican candidates, elected officials, and conservative causes win by connecting them with voters and constituents.

They also have a Canadian site with a similar description:
Front Porch Strategies is an award winning international voter contact and constituent communications firm. Our passion is helping Conservative candidates, elected officials, and conservative causes win by personally connecting them with voters and constituents.
The Winnipeg Free Press article states that they're unsure if Ross will be doing robocall work for Pallister, but I'd be surprised if he wasn't. It seems like Pallister will be running a highly professional, firmly rightwing campaign. Pallister's slick site presently blows the NDP site out of the water.

Whereas the Manitoba NDP website has sections on "plans" and "vision", Pallister uses the highly successful (and much less wonkish) rhetoric of "core values". I wouldn't be surprised if his "compassion, NOT entitlement" slogan was influenced by Dubya's "compassionate conservatism" slogan.

Former Republican, rightwing US President
who branded himself as "compassionate" in
the 2000 US presidential election.

Image Source: Alaska Journal of Commerce
Don't be fooled by the "soft edges" branding, though. Pallister is likely going to be a very draconian, service-slashing Premier. "Compassion, NOT entitlement" as a slogan opens the way for reducing the rights of hard-working poor and jobless Manitobans under the notion that they should be subject to "compassionate charity" rather than being "entitled" to public services.

Pallister, once in office, will likely argue (though not explicitly in these terms) that the poor should get small scraps of the economic prosperity, but that will only happen once Manitoba grows its economy. The potential PC Premier's prescription for growing the economy will likely be the standard rightwing fare of cutting taxes for the rich and powerful while slashing services and safeguards for the working majority.

The Manitoba Dippers need to a strong counter-message and fast if they are to secure a fifth mandate. Conventional, uber-cautious Doerism is just not enough when faced with slick, values-based, hard-right faux populist rhetoric. The NDP must channel it's traditional working class populism against Pallister to stand any chance of victory in 2015.

1 comment:

  1. Ummm... this is all tongue in cheek, right?

    "Palliser 'The Anointed One' and his George Bush machine threatens the NDP next election..." has to be the start of a very funny joke (I just can't figure it out, yet.)

    I... I think the regime is safe on that front. Just in case you are really worried....