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Monday, April 06, 2009

Loyal to the Core: A review by Joseph Quesnel

Generally speaking, there are two types of people in politics: ideologues and strategists.

Ideologues care about ideas; they’re passionate about policy. Strategists care about winning; they’re passionate about “messaging” and public opinion research.

A political party, and a political movement, needs both such people, of course. Good strategists will lead a party to victory, and good ideologues will ensure that these victories are meaningful to the cause.

It’s rare to find a politico, however, who is equally passionate about policy and strategy, but columnist, pundit, author and Western Standard blogger Gerry Nicholls is such a person. In a review of his new book Loyal to the Core: Stephen Harper, Me and the NCC, Joseph Quesnel writes that Nicholls is “a sincere advocate for conservative policies and a player in the conservative movement.” He also writes that Nicholls “makes a strong case for the necessity of ‘political guerrilla warfare’ and the need for direct, simple messaging within the movement.”

Nicholls not only believes conservative (and libertarian) ideas are good for Canada, he believes these ideas can win at the ballot box, which is an increasingly rare view in the Conservative party. On this point, Quesnel writes: “Nicholls is quite right to point out that conservative politicians need not fear running on a principled platform.”

But Quesnel also takes a gentle poke at Nicholls’ “no compromise” approach to campaigns and politics. He argues that Nicholls glosses over compromises made by conservative stalwarts like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and even Mike Harris. Were these compromises necessary for political success?

Quesnel makes what I think is a dubious claim that time has yet to reveal if the Harper Conservatives are committed to an incrementalist conservative agenda, something Nicholls also dismisses: “Although Nicholls scoffs at it, there may very well be an "incrementalist" agenda. It may prove best to wait and see.”

Of course, what we have seen to date has been unprecedented spending increases, a return to deficits and what some have described as open disdain for the fiscal conservative/libertarian wing of the Conservative party. I would argue that we have also seen poor strategic thinking motivated by reckless partisanship -- Bill C-10 and the aborted attempt to remove public financing for political parties, for instances -- that has compromised the party’s good standing with the Canadian public and has undermined its ability to advance a conservative agenda in the House.

For political insiders, Loyal to the Core has a generous offering of intrigue and betrayal. Was Nicholls fired as vice-president at the National Citizens Coalition for criticizing Stephen Harper’s government? Does Stephen Harper have a controlling personality and an impulse to interfere with even the non-partisan organizations in the conservative movement? Nicholls makes no friends in the PMO with such questions, but the answers found in Loyal to the Core will be irresistible to even to the most loyal partisan.

Quesnel concludes his review for Western Standard readers with this: "In the end, Loyal to the Core is a daring and provocative work. It deserves to be read by conservative activists and politicos."

I couldn’t agree more.

You can get your copy of Loyal to the Core here:


Posted by Matthew Johnston

Posted by westernstandard on April 6, 2009 in Canadian Politics | Permalink

Comments

>>Was Nicholls fired as vice-president at the National Citizens Coalition for criticizing Stephen Harper’s government? Does Stephen Harper have a controlling personality and an impulse to interfere with even the non-partisan organizations in the conservative movement?

Most people already know what Harper is realy like...a control freak.

Posted by: thenonconformer | 2009-04-06 1:04:25 PM


Gerry has it right and it is too bad that the PM continues to ignore the most fundamental conservative values in hopes of remaining in power. I can see no other reason for his lack of action on the erosion of our freedom of speech, the gun registry along with his increase in government spending and size.

Posted by: Alain | 2009-04-06 8:19:15 PM



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