Tom Flanagan’s ‘Ten Commandments’


in Canada, Politics, Psychology

In 2007, Harper strategist Tom Flanagan enumerated ten ‘commandments’ for the effective use of power by the Conservative party:

  1. Unity. The various factions and splinter groups within the CPC coalition have to get along.
  2. Moderation. “Canada,” says Flanagan, “is not yet a conservative or Conservative country. We can’t win if we veer too far to the right of the median voter.”
  3. Inclusion. This means francophones and minority groups.
  4. Incrementalism: “Make progress in small, practical steps.”
  5. Policy. “Since conservatism is not yet the dominant public philosophy, our policies may sometimes run against conventional wisdom. The onus is on us to help Canadians to understand what they are voting for.”
  6. Self-discipline. “The media are unforgiving of conservative errors, so we have to exercise strict discipline at all levels.”
  7. Toughness. “We cannot win by being Boy Scouts.”
  8. Grassroots politics. “Victories are earned one voter at a time.”
  9. Technology. “We must continue to be at the forefront in adapting new technologies to politics.”
  10. Persistence. “We have to correct our errors, learn from experience, and keep pushing ahead.”

Certainly, they have done better in electoral terms than many people expected. When I moved to Ottawa in 2007, many people expected the Harper minority government to come to an end reasonably quickly, probably after the Liberals rebuilt themselves. Not least because of the Green-NDP-Liberal split on the left, that has yet to happen.

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