Any sane observer will recognise that Goff’s position has been strengthened by the victory, that the party has gained a huge boost in confidence and that Shearer will be a close ally of Goff in caucus.
But in the strange bizarro world inhabited by Matthew Hooton, the Mt Albert victory is actually a sign that Goff’s leadership is under threat and that this new bloke Shearer will roll him at the next election.
You have to admit, it’s hard to believe that Hooton has arrived at this view through any honest analysis of the facts. Because he clearly doesn’t hold this view at all. It’s a line designed to undermine Goff’s leadership, and it’s as transparent as it is ridiculous.
Transparent, because the line is designed to make Goff appear weak and his party divided just as he’s passed his first test and secured his position as leader. Ridiculous, because Shearer is clearly Goff’s man. He used to work for Goff, he’s Goff’s mate, and Goff chose him for Mt Albert.
The idea that Shearer, elected for all of five minutes and yet to prove himself as an MP, would want to roll Goff at the next election is unworthy even of Hooton. It’s certainly unworthy of a paid political commentator for TV3′s Sunrise programme.
As with most of Hooton’s lines this one’s already been picked up by Farrar etc. No doubt it’ll pop up on the other right-wing blogs shortly, and in the comments section here, and chances are we’ll see at least one of the Nats’ tame columnists (Ralston, Armstrong, Long etc) give it a run in the mainstream media over the next week or two.
It’s a funny old world when your commentariat is claiming being forced to ditch a minister and getting humiliated on the hustings makes you a strong leader, but thumping the government in a by-election is a sign of weakness.