The Conservative's scripted talking points get them into trouble
Nov 26, 2014

The Conservative's scripted talking points get them into trouble

This little scandal Tories have gotten themselves into is a bit delightful, but underscores a more important point about the dissemination of talking points.

The problem started when a Conservative operative secretly recorded a conversation including, allegedly, Banff-Airdrie Liberal candidate Marlo Raynolds saying some not-so-lovely things about the people benefiting from the Conservative's income splitting proposals. The problem? It now appears it wasn't the Liberal who said it, but the conservative supporter he was talking to. 

In the short time after Sun news put this up, no less than four MPs - including Employment Minister Jason Kenney -  used the quote to mock the Liberals in the House of Commons. Now that they have been caught in error, they are refusing to apologize. 

This is a pretty minor scandal, of course, and mainly gives a source of amusement at the egg-on-face. The larger point though is that this only happens in the scale it did because of the way the Conservatives disseminate their talking points. It isn't as if these different MPs all happened to watch Sun news and each independently thought it was a clever jab they could throw at the Liberals. Instead, it was understood by all that today this was the talking point to use. And each MP in turn dutifully showed up to take their turn at the bat with it.

This process happens every day, and most of the time the talking points are silly. But this time the talking point was also just flat wrong. The larger criticism isn't that one of the talking points turned out to be false; that is going to happen every once in a while no matter how dutiful one is. The criticism is more on the nature of how these talking points get disseminated and how it makes the entire political process - particularly in the House of Commons - so vapid and vacuous where any attempt at a serious dialogue is eschewed in favour of repeating the talking points of the day no matter how ridiculous (and in this case false) they are. 

These days, when something goes wrong in car manufacturing, there are often recalls measuring into the millions. The basic reason is that because of standardization, the exact same part is used in so many different cars and models so that if anything little thing goes wrong, it becomes a massive recall. This is the basic dynamic here. Tory talking points are so quickly and widely disseminated that if one of them proves bad, you have this whole swath of people that need to come forward to apologize. They are in the business of mass production of talking points, and are experiencing one of the pitfalls that comes from that.

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Anonymous said...

Please don't tell me Rob Anders has become a Liberal. [I speak from the side of the Liberals]

bazie said...

Apparently my ability to read properly was temporarily compromised. Fixed, thanks!

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