Nonsense, says Andrew Coyne:
Why is everyone so surprised? The budget the Conservatives produced last week may have been startling in some respects... but it was hardly out of character. It was the logical terminus to a decade of climbdowns, reversals, and broken promises, dating back to the first efforts to merge the old Reform and Progressive Conservative parties. What began in fear and deception has ended in confusion and incoherence. Predictably enough.Not only have the Conservatives given up everything they once stood for, according to Coyne, but they've gotten next to nothing in return.
So let us have none of these astonished little essays on how difficult this must have been for Stephen Harper, how the Reformer who had entered politics to fight deficits had come to embrace them. Once, this would have been hard for him, but by now it is second nature. And spare us, please, the cries of betrayal from stalwarts of the right, who never imagined that a Conservative party could produce a budget like this. Where were these people the last 10 years? I’ll tell you where they were: right by the party’s side, urging it on.
There is no betrayal here. They were all in this together.
So they’ve given up everything they ever stood for, and what have they got in return? Pretty close to nada. They’re stalled in the polls, again. The fabled majority remains firmly out of reach. Those disposed to mistrust them are as suspicious as ever, while their own followers are now thoroughly demoralized. They have not moved to the centre; they have only succeeded in shifting the entire political spectrum to the left.It's hard to argue with Coyne's overall theme at this point, in my opinion. I'd disagree that there hasn't been anything good accomplished under Harper - there are a few important changes that have been made, though they were overshadowed by so many bad decisions. And sure, there are those who would follow Stephen Harper right off a cliff and would vote Conservative if P.E. Trudeau came back to lead the party, but at this point it's tough to find anyone with much better to say about the Conservatives than "Well, just look at the alternative!"
Read the rest of Coyne's article here.
Cross-posted to the Shotgun