Jason Kenney Leadership Review: Holy Shit
Well, didn’t expect that, but hey, I’ll take it.
Wednesday night, Jason Kenney resigned after three years as Premier, a year before the next scheduled election in Alberta, and now the province is burning in the aftermath.
Let’s start with the why – he had a leadership review “win” of 51.4%, and despite his lies before hand, he properly understood that that sort of result was never going to be tenable in a caucus that hates his gut – or, at least, have enough members that hate his guts – as the current UCP. But I’m less interested in the why of it than the what’s next, and here’s some “scattered thoughts”, as I used to call it when I wrote at a different site, on the path forward.
The UCP Membership Should, But Won’t, Pick A Moderate
I’m not going to pretend to be a good Kremlinologist in terms of telling you which UCP Cabinet Ministers might put their names forward for the job – Brian Jean is an obvious name, and I sort of default to him being the favourite in any leadership race, but I’m not well-versed enough in the other names to know who else might put up a fight. That said, I do know that they’re not going to select a moderate.
The crank wing of the party has the reigns of the party, and will win in any fair leadership race. Whether Jean is the choice of the ascendent crackpots wing of the party is unclear, but they’re not winning this. Don Braid just now on CBC suggested the party could look to their urban members, and maybe even a female one, to lead, but I don’t think the membership would ever elect that person leader.
Nothing about this leadership review shouted “electability is our highest priority” from the membership, and I don’t think they’re going to prioritize beating Rachel Notley’s NDP. Braid is an Albertan genius and I respect him immensely – and I think he’s 1000% correct that they should look in that direction. I just can’t see them actually doing it.
Notley’s A (Conditional) Winner From This
So, conditional upon the UCP picking a member of the Covidiot wing of the party as their next leader, I think Notley is in a better spot now than she was then. Yes, Jean (or whoever else) will eat Wildrose – but Wildrose didn’t really fucking matter at the end of the day, because their votes were biggest in the places where the NDP was going to be smallest. What Notley needs is 2009 Alberta Liberal-2012 PC voters to trust her, and Notley/Jean is a clear and obvious contrast that polarizes the center easier than Kenney did.
Kenney, for everything that those of us who hate him think of him, is a smart guy who knows his history and knows how to get himself out of problems. Notley is going to be use this lane of division and this void to step into it as the grownup in the room while the kids (the UCP) are chucking shit at each other’s heads. The next UCP leader might have a budget and a winter to govern – a winter likely to have some COVID pressures, even if it’s currently unlikely to be as bad as 2021/22 was. So, if the choice is Jean, who will have one hell of a time putting the party back together and will be too new to have accrued any incumbency benefit, and Notley, who looks strong and stable and whose party doesn’t hate her, Notley will look better and better.
If they pick a moderate, she’s fucked, sure – but they’re not picking a moderate.
(Note: none of this constitutes a prediction she will win the 2023 Election. All of this is merely a statement about her relative chances compared to the status quo. If any of you say I made a firm prediction, I will break things.)
Parties In Chaos Win More Often Than They Used To
It used to be said that disunity was death in politics, and it was said because it was true. It’s much less true now, and so this is less a harbinger of certain doom than many might expect from historical trends.
In 2019, the UK Tories won their biggest majority since 1987 6 months after their worst ever British election results ever at the 2019 Euros and 3 months after 22 of their MPs got booted from the party. It was a fucking shitshow, that whole year, and the electorate rewarded them because they found a message by the time they went to the electorate.
2018 was the Coalition’s meltdown in Australia, and then the next year Scott Morrison gained a seat compared to 2016. The guy who barely won a leadership in a bitter 3 way battle won the general despite everyone in his party being miserable and a half dozen party elders fucking off and retiring. Disunity isn’t the biggest sin in politics anymore, not like it used to be.
I know it’s not quite the same name, but Jason, my parting gift to you …