Thursday, October 21, 2010

Westcott throws gasoline on the fire

I'm not sure I laughed harder this month when I found out the news that Craig Westcott was going to become the new Director of Communications for the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador. I've been kind of drifting away from NL politics for awhile now. Part of it being time and distance, part of it being only the strong can survive writing about NL politics for years on end, and apparently I'm just a weak, weak man.

But Westcott as Comms director? That's hilarious. Newfoundland and Labrador politics just got infinitely more interesting.

I'm a friend and fan of Westcott and that's no secret. Do a search of the blog using his name and you'll find it come up many times, with me saying good things about him. I think he's a hell of a journalist and has a refreshing low bullshit tolerance level. And in fair disclosure, I use him as a reference on my resume. I'm pretty sure he's the reason I have my current job, because he apparently spent about 20 minutes talking about how brilliant I am.

So yes, I laughed when it was pointed out to me that he had a new job. As expected, there are some who are not happy about it. I shrug off most of the comments as they generally don't know what they're talking about. Geoff Meeker interviewed Craig briefly and I think everyone got an idea pretty quick of what the next year is going to be like.

“Since I started these papers I’ve been lucky to have had maybe 20 minutes a month to think about Danny Williams and write a column about his style of government," Westcott said. "And from what I understand, that was enough to have him down on the floor of his office, chewing the carpet. Well, as of Monday coming, my job will be to watch Danny Williams and his government full time, seven days a week. And I’ll have a six-person research team helping me. So maybe the Premier should order some new carpet, something maybe in a ju jube or Reese’s Pieces flavour. With the team we now have in place, we’re going to be very effective when the House opens.

People can say he's being a hypocrite for running for the Conservatives and then switching over to the Liberals. Perhaps, but he's just doesn't like Premier Williams very much. I think he comes by that dislike honestly. I worked with him when Williams was first elected and I think he was intrigued by Williams. Certainly he was a much needed breath of fresh air after years of Liberal melodrama. But gradually, piece by piece, he began disagreeing with the premier on issues and how he ran the province. Westcott's zero bullshit tolerance crept into his writing, Williams didn't like it and pushed back (I know he called Westcott at him to complain about a column) and things escalated from there.

So yeah, I don't know how much of a card carrying Liberal Westcott is, but he's a hell of a writer and he certainly knows what buttons to push with the premier. Which, by the way, is what is desperately needed if you're the Liberals.

There's a line from the West Wing I like, where one of the characters complains about how abused the word 'liberal' had become in US politics. "We rolled over and said, please don't hurt me.' That's pretty much how I've viewed the Liberal Party in NL for many years now. Very much trying very hard to avoid being hurt any further by Williams. The only solid Liberal voices in NL the last five years have been Ed Hollett and Wallace Mclean.

Whatever else you can say about Westcott, it's the first sign of life I've seen in the Liberals in years. The first sign that they're willing to fight Williams in public. That they're willing to hire someone they know is going to drive the premier insane, that they've found the money for some more researchers is at least an indication they're not going to be annihilated in the next election.

I'm not going to say they're going to win next fall, but at least now I think there might actually be a chance they pick up a few seats. It's politics; it's not all about getting along with each other. Sometimes it's about picking a fight. If the Liberal party wants to survive past the 2011 election then they finally found someone who might just be able to do that for them.

Last Five
1. The beast and dragon, adored - Spoon
2. Such a scream (live) - Tom Waits
3. Intro (live) - Tom Waits*
4. The view from the afternoon - Arctic Monkeys
5. Front row - Metric

No comments: