Stephen Clarkson

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 Québec. 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.

Books By Stephen Clarkson