Phil Goff has gone one step further today and ruled out working with anyone that signs up to The Mana Party, not just the already ruled-out Hone Harawira. A Labour Party spokeswoman is reported by the Herald as saying “He doesn’t prescribe [sic] to the values of Hone Harawira. You can’t work with that.”
Would Phil Goff care to explain which of Harawira’s values he doesn’t ‘prescribe’ [sic] to? It would make it easier for those on the left to make their party vote choice if they knew what left-wing values Goff finds so repugnant. I tend to think Goff’s choice to not work with Harawira is more about political ‘style’ than values but it would be helpful to have it clarified.
Strategically, I think it’s a very stupid move to rule the Mana Party out. Goff is once again taking the left vote for granted and trying to appeal to the centre or floating voters instead. He knows that centre voters find Harawira radical and is attempting to win their admiration with this move – but they won’t care. It’s going to take a lot more than ruling Harawira out to turn the heads of floating voters away from Nice Mr Key. Goff will instead succeed in pissing off a lot of voters and activists who are invigorated by the movement on the left of the party spectrum. Many see the possibilities of a party focused on groups marginalised by the current political offerings, but understand the Mana party would need to work with a broader left-wing coalition. I guess Goff is presuming that by ruling this option out voters will stick with Labour, but I wouldn’t underestimate the possibility of a swell of protest votes from those on the left.
Goff’s move seems particularly foolhardy given Labour is polling so poorly. It isn’t as if Goff will have many choices after the election so why rule out any at this early stage? He has refused to remove Winston Peters from the list of possibilities despite Peters’ ‘values’ seeming much further from Goff’s than the values the Mana Party’s espousing. I read one commentator say Goff is trying to appear principled in comparison to National, who will most likely continue to work with ACT (despite its wildly undemocratic leadership takeover). If this is really the primary motivation for Goff’s strategy it’s a weak one.
A bit of principle around policy direction would go a lot further.