Friday, May 26, 2006

Howard and Harper

John Howard's speech to the Canadian parliament has inspired favourable coverage in the Murdoch press, even if Howard's government shows signs of the complacency that finally brought down the Canadian Liberals. John Murney asks if Howard's appearance will help Canadian PM Harper, it probably does some marginal good for a PM to appear with foreign leaders, except if they are George Bush. Perhaps the ALP should look to Harper and David Cameron in the UK for examples of how to unsettle a long-serving government in good economic times. Harper is in a minority government, in Australia we have recently had several minority state Labor governments all of which have been returned with thumping majorities at their second election after first terms of strenuous moderation. The Conservative vote is drifting up so Harper hopes to emulate the example of the ALP in the Australian states. Like the minority Labor governments in Australia Harper keeps a tight rein on caucus:
The Prime Minister's Office has warned Tory MPs not to comment on the marriage next month of two gay RCMP constables. The gag order went to all MPs but was aimed at "the small minority who might say something stupid," said one caucus member. It's just the latest in an effort by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to control and limit his new government's public message track. It follows Tory strategists' successful suppression during the election campaign of social conservatives whose opinions might have harmed the party at the polls.

3 Comments:

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Shawn said...

I'm impressed that you compared the two. I have an unsettling feeling that these conservative/repulican leaders are too close. Why should the Harper meet Bush, again after in just a few months? He's only been PM for a few months. Bush never met the other PM's this many times in such a short time!?! These guys need to all be watched very closely.

 
At 10:36 PM, Anonymous Phil said...

I'm in Canada at the moment, and what you're describing is true up to a point. However Harper is on a tight leash himself with the Canadian public, judging by comment here.

As to being on message, he's tightening the noose further by attempting to fracture the press gallery by claiming bias and speaking only to local reporters.

This rollback is a typical conservative tactic in dealing with the MSM, and as Jay Rosen at Press Think has posted on.

"Back ‘em up, starve ‘em down, and drive up their negatives"

http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2005/07/16/rll_back.html

 
At 3:32 PM, Blogger John Murney said...

A very interesting column, Geoff. Very compelling.

 

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