At Humans vs. Harper we believe that when a political party’s internal campaign problems start leaking out to the public, that party is having a really hard time. No one likes having a really hard time during an election campaign.
One reason it’s especially hard is that everyone inside the campaign gets really mad at the party people who are harming the campaign with their revealing talk to the media. Then the talkers get mad at the campaign insiders because they won’t face up to the fact that the campaign could be going off the rails.
At the same time, the campaign insiders can only wonder who’s talking because the talkers are protecting themselves from blowback by staying anonymous. So, the mistrustful and, by now angry, party insiders start looking over their shoulders. And, they stop sharing. Everybody knows this kind of behaviour endangers the campaign, but that’s what happens when you’re having really hard time.
The quotes below reveal a little bit of what’s being said in public. It’s almost inevitable that more of the same will eventually leak out. Let’s think of this as just the tip of the iceberg that’s now bearing down on Harper’s Conservative Party.
“I think the team is huddling a bit to making sure they’re got their message down.” (Anonymous Conservative insider)
“It’s not a re-boot of our campaign, but it’s a natural evolution of our campaign.” (Kory Teneycke, Conservative Party campaign spokesperson and long time Tory insider, denying that the Tory campaign needs a re-boot.)
“They haven’t got a big policy mind. They haven’t got a big strategy mind and they haven’t got a diversity of advisers.” (Anonymous former Conservative Party insider commenting on how they miss their great people, including Nigel Wright, who used to work in the Party’s election war room.)
“… sucked all their political oxygen [out of the campaign]” (Anonymous Conservative cabinet minister noting that the Conservatives have been on the defensive because of the Duffy trial, the Tories failed economic record and the Syrian refugee crisis. This person went on to complain this has left the Tories with little room to set the campaign agenda.)
“The mood has changed, obviously not in a good way and we are all smart enough to know that this is not a good thing.” (Anonymous veteran party staffer.)
Jenni Byrne, the Tories 2015 national campaign manager. In a right wing political party that values calculated effect over truth telling, Jennie Byrne is a master spinner. One Tory insider described her as a “hard ass with a temper,” aka, a Harper twin. Byrne was the key architect of the 2011 campaign that led to Conservatives’ majority win. In that role, she was the damage control specialist who managed the robo call scandal. As a senior political operative in the PMO, she was responsible for scheduling Senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin’s fundraising speeches to the Party faithful when both senators regularly and inappropriately claimed expenses for these speeches. While she’s running the troubled Harper’s 2015 re-election campaign now, it seems the knives are out for Byrne. Her final role might be as a sacrificial lamb.
And, introducing Lynton Crosby. Rumours abound about Crosby who has worked with Harper in the past. He is either coming to rescue the campaign or protecting his reputation by heading for the hills. During the last Australian election, Crosby was accused of exploiting fears of refugees by claiming that people arriving by boat were throwing their children overboard to help them get into Australia. Along with being a Harper bro, it seems he’s a Fox News kind of hater.