The Liberal Party of Canada has governed for 78 of the last 110 years, making it the most successful political party in the world. How has one party been able to dominate the polls during such a tumultuous sweep of history? Will it continue to win?
In The Big Red Machine, astute Liberal observer Stephen Clarkson tells the story of the Liberal Party's performance in the last nine elections, providing essential historical context for each and offering incisive, behind-the-scenes detail about how the party has planned, changed, and executed its successful electoral strategies. Arguing that the Liberal Party has opportunistically straddled the political centre since Sir John A. Macdonald - leaning left or moving right and as circumstances required - Clarkson also shows that the party's grip on power is becoming increasingly uncertain, having lost its appeal not just in the West, but now in Quebec. Its campaigns now reflect the splintering of the party system and the integration of Canada into the global economy.
An ideal political primer, deftly written and filled with a wealth of fact and analysis, The Big Red Machine is a fascinating history of Liberal pragmatism, communication tactics, and dramatic changes in leadership style. "Even if the last century did not belong to Canada, Canada turns out to have belonged to the Liberal Party," Clarkson concludes. Although he foresees considerably less rosy prospects for Grits in the years ahead, the "big red machine" remains a formidable political force.
Stephen Clarkson is the author of Trudeau and Our Times, Canada and the Reagan Challenge, and Uncle Sam and Us.
Preface: The Joy of Winning Acknowledgments Introduction: Party Systems and Liberal Leaders Pierre Trudeau: Victory, Fall, and Recovery 1974 The Liberal Party and Pierre Trudeau: The Jockey and the Horse 1979 The Government's Defeat, the Party's Decline, and the Leader's (Temporary) Fall 1980 Hiding the Charisma: Low-Bridging the Saviour John Turner: From Disappointment to Despair 1984 The Dauphin and the Doomed: John Turner's Debacle 1988 Election or Referendum? Disoriented in Defeat Jean Chretien: Power without Purpose 1993 Yesterday's Man and His Blue Grits: Backwards into Jean Chretien's Future 1997 Securing Their Future Together 2000 The Liberal Threepeat: The Multi-System Party in the Multi-Party System Paul Martin: Saved By the Far Right 2004 Disaster and Recovery: Paul Martin As Political Lazarus Conclusion The Liberal Party As Hegemon: Straddling Canadian History Appendix Notes Bibliography Index