Halloween special: spooky parallels between UK and Canadian politics

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Photo credit REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Canadian politics have fascinated me ever since I had the good fortune to spend four years in that country as a foreign diplomat. One of reasons I find Canadian politics so interesting is the way in which strange, almost spooky, parallels exist between trends in Canadian politics and trends in UK politics. Correlation is not causation and this is just a bit of fun but let’s take a look, shall we?

Canada UK
80s dominated by long-serving Tory PM Brian Mulroney 80s dominated by long-serving Tory PM Margaret Thatcher
1993: Mulroney, increasingly seen as an impediment to the Tory party’s fortunes, retires, succeeded by Kim Campbell. 1991: Thatcher, increasingly seen as an impediment to the Tory party’s fortunes, is ‘retired’, succeeded by John Major.
1993: Tories are trounced in a landslide win for the Liberals under charismatic Jean Chrétien. 1997: Tories are trounced in a landslide win for New Labour under charismatic leader Tony Blair.
1993-2004: Shattered Canadian right is convulsed by infighting and eventually reconfigures as the Conservative Party of Canada, positioned sharply to the right of the old Progressive Conservatives. 1997-2008: Shattered Conservative party is convulsed by infighting under right wing leaders Ian Duncan Smith and Michael Howard. David Cameron’s Tory Party is sharply to the right of the ‘One Nation’ party Thatcher inherited.
2003: Jean Chrétien hands reins of power to his Finance Minister and bitter party rival Paul Martin who takes over as Prime Minister. 2007: Tony Blair hands reins of power to his Finance Minister and bitter party rival Gordon Brown who takes over as PM.
2006: Voters, sick of Liberals who seem to have become entitled and corrupted in office, hold their nose and elect a Tory minority government which is supported by the Bloc Quebecois. 2010: Electorate, sick of New Labour who seem to have become entitled and corrupted in office, hold their nose and elect a Tory minority who form a coalition government with the Lib Dems.
2011: Surprisingly, the Conservatives win an outright majority in the general election and roll out an even more radical right wing agenda under Stephen Harper. 2015: Surprisingly, the Conservatives win an outright majority in the general election and roll out an even more radical right wing agenda under David Cameron.
2012: in a reaction to dissatisfaction with the Harper government’s radical agenda and with “old style politics” as represented by the Liberals, socialist New Democrats under Tom Mulcair lead in the opinion polls. 2015: in a reaction to dissatisfaction with the Tories’ radical austerity agenda and with the “old style politics” represented by New Labour, socialist Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour Party leadership and enjoys a high degree of popular support.
2015: Harper’s government is defeated in the general election which sees the return of a resurgent social democratic Liberal Party under Justin Trudeau. The NDP surge fades to nothing. 2020: …

 

One thing this table doesn’t tackle is the parallelism between Quebec and Scottish separatism/nationalism and how it has influenced national/federal politics. There’s a whole PhD thesis right there…

It will be interesting to see if Corbyn’s Labour Party can do a Trudeau or whether further changes need to take place in the UK political landscape first.

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