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For All Nails #110a:  Between the Rivers

Excerpt from Vitavision Discussion
Confederation Public Affairs Network
26 August 1974

[C-PAN anchor and president Brian Agnello again
chats with political consultant Paul Markey from
the C-PAN studios in Burgoyne]

A: So you think Monaghan lost it on foreign policy?

M: Absolutely.  That was the focus of the whole debate,
   all the speeches the last week, and it's what our
   surveys of voters leaving the polls told us as well.
   He had enough support when he called the election to
   get his majority back, but he lost around eight or
   ten percentage points _during_ the campaign. 

A: What went wrong for him?

M: He was so used to thinking of foreign affairs as his
   strength, that he never realized the electorate had
   lost confidence in him.  He might have done better 
   to try to move the debate onto domestic matters, but
   he never did.  Governor Skinner, Governor-_General_
   Skinner now, say what you will about his policies or 
   his accent, but he was _clear_ about where he thought
   the country should go.  And the Governor-General, I 
   guess I should say "Mr. Monaghan" now, wasn't.  And
   then those pictures from Grao Para on the vita...

A: Some people are saying the King of New Granada was
   the real winner of this election.

M: That's a little extreme, I think, but only a little.
   You had these pictures of the King being cheered and
   the bodies being dug up, and it was clear that Mr. 
   Skinner was on the same side as the King.  It had an 
   impact.

A: So is it too early to start speculating about the
   _next_ election?  Starting with _when_ it's going to 
   be?

M: It's never too early, Brian, a politician's focus has
   always got to be on the next election.  As to when?
   The only thing certain is that the _latest_ it could
   be is 15 August 1979.  But if you want my prediction,
   it will be 15 February 1978.

A: Which is just when it would have been if Monaghan 
   hadn't called this midterm election.

M: Right.  There's actually a legal argument that claims 
   that Skinner would _have_ to call it then, because he
   doesn't get a new five-year mandate.  Not many people
   actually _believe_ this argument, but there's just enough
   ambiguity in the Burgoyne Conference documents--

A: Doesn't it say "elected for a five-year mandate"?

M: But there was this one delegate from Massachusetts at
   the conference who was on at great length about someone
   like Gilpin prolonging his mandate by continually calling
   elections at just the right time to maximize his popularity,
   as is the normal case in Britain.  That guy didn't seem
   to have much support -- there was talk about fixed terms
   being a _Mexican_ idea -- but they don't seem to have ever
   taken a vote on his proposal so the legislative history 
   is murky.

A: Well, who's the final arbitrator of the legal question?

M: The Confederation Senate.

A: Ah, I see.

M: Right.  As you know, Brian, the Senate is a somewhat eccentric
   body, with very few official duties.  It's used most often
   as a graceful way to ease a troublesome member of the ruling
   party out of a more critical position.  And when you think
   of the ten year's worth of appointees that Governor-General
   _Mason_ found too eccentric to work with, along with eight
   year's worth of Monaghan's staffing problems, you've got a 
   rather curious group.

A: I can see your point.

M: So as long as the thirty Senators just go on having their
   "meetings" at the Crown over on Fourth [1], everyone's happy.
   The thought of formally asking their ruling on a matter of
   national policy -- well, Volk's [2] phrase "mutually assured
   destruction" comes to mind, you've got a standoff.  No one 
   would want to risk how they might rule.

A: But if Skinner were to _call_ an election in February 1978--

M: Exactly, everybody's happy.  Don't underestimate the psychical
   impact of possibly _not_ having an election on the fifteenth
   of February in a year ending in 3 or 8, as we've done since
   Winfield Scott's day.  If Skinner commits to an election then,
   and commits to it _soon_, there will be a real feeling between
   the rivers [3] of being back to normal, which always helps the
   party in power.  Of course there are practical considerations too.

A: Such as?

M: The PC and the Liberals were already in negotiation with various
   cities, all in Indiana of course [4], to hold their nominating
   conventions in November 1977.  They were doing that before the
   midterm election got called, I mean.  A lot of people would like
   to know in advance when they should plan on those conventions.

A: But Skinner would be giving up a certain amount of flexibility
   by declaring a date now, wouldn't he?

M: He would, but you can already hear a lot of talk here about how
   it would be unfair for him to _use_ that flexibility.  Some say 
   that the voters were punishing Monaghan for trying to pick his
   own time for _this_ election, though there wasn't much evidence of 
   that in my surveys.

A: Who will be the PC candidate in 1978, then?  Or 1979?

M: I don't think it will be Carter Monaghan, and I think he'll 
   announce that after a decent interval, within a few months.
   He'll be 68 in 1978, and that's pretty old to start in anew 
   to what might be the toughest job in the world.  The problem 
   the PC has is that Monaghan kept a pretty tight lid on the party
   and didn't let a second tier of leadership develop.  But I expect
   some younger man, maybe several, will emerge over the next year
   or two.

A: What about the other two parties?

M: That's a very interesting question, Brian.  The alliance between
   the PC and the RJP was very tight this time, and it kept the Liberal
   victory from being much worse.  If they don't do the same thing
   next time they'll each have a much bigger hole to climb out of.  But
   a big part of that alliance was the personal trust between Monaghan
   and Mayor Levine, and a new PC leader might have to earn that trust
   over again.  The RJP has a strong base now in the Northern Confederation,
   and they put in good showings in several districts in Indiana even
   though most of those eventually went to Skinner.

A: And the Masonists?

M: They've established themselves as a force to be reckoned with, 
   with pluralities across much of Manitoba and a hard core of radical
   Christians and other pacifists all across the nation.  It's only 
   by chance now that in two elections it's been possible to form a
   majority in the Council without their help.  If the next election is
   close, and they ease up on their policy of isolation from other parties,
   they could be part of the Governor-Generalcy picture as well.

A: What's going on this week in Burgoyne?

M: Well, the new Governor-General has already announced several of his
   choices for cabinet ministers, starting with Michael Murphy as Foreign
   Minister as everyone expected.  Those ministers have got to assess the
   career civil servants that are now working for them, decide whom to
   keep on and whom to replace, and so on.  Those are going to be some 
   interesting discussions.  You know how the Mexicans are always talking
   about "separation of powers" between executive and legislative branches
   in their system?  Bit of a joke, really, there's more separation between
   their War Department and their President.  But here we've got a _real_
   separation of powers, and it's between the Government and the civil
   service [5].  The minister wants to decide policy, but only the career
   people have the expertise that allows anything to get done, and they've
   each got their own agenda.  I'll bet there'll be some interesting "get
   acquainted meetings" going on this week.

A: Food for thought, indeed.  Paul Markey, of Markey Research in Burlington,
   Brooklyn, and Burgoyne -- thanks again for being on the program.

M: Always a pleasure, Brian.

Notes:

[1] I am indebted to Sir Francis Burdett's non-canonical drinking
    guide to Burgoyne (Google-group on "four awl nails") for this
    important clue as to the current status of the Confederation
    Senate.  Sobel mentions it twice as far as I can tell, when it
    was established with five members per state and "given very little
    power", and when the division of Vandalia in 1877 gave it five
    more Senators, then apparently still regarded as a good thing.

[2] Masonist author of _The Bomb Myth_, PJP candidate for GG in 1968
    and 1973.  He argued that the certainty of retaliation made the 
    Bomb useless in warfare and thus irrelevant.

[3] "Between the rivers" is the CNA analog of the OTL USA expression
    "inside the Beltway", referring to the concerns of insiders in
    the capital city that are irrelevant to the real people outside.
    Of course, the downtown of the Tory capital of Burgoyne, and the
    major government buildings, are between the Allegheny and Monongahela
    rivers where they join to form the Ohio.  (The Allegheny and
    Monongahela were not among those rivers renamed in the 1830's,
    though other names were considered in the general anti-Indian frenzy).

[4] The Indiana districts are outside the base areas of all major parties
    and are thus most volatile and most closely contested -- the situation
    is actually not unlike the midwestern "battleground" states of the 
    OTL USA.

[5] I owe this analogy to Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, creators of the
    OTL British television series _Yes, Minister_.  Part 110b of _For
    All Nails_ is also titled "Yes, Minister" and consists of a meeting
    of the new Liberal Science Minister with his deputy, Joshua
    Abramowitz.

Dave MB