Goff’s speech

Written By: - Date published: 12:12 pm, November 27th, 2009 - 106 comments
Categories: labour, phil goff, racism - Tags:

Phil Goff’s speech on ‘nationhood’ was always going to be seen as an attempt to pull a Brash, regardless of what it actually said. The narrative was set from the start, and it’s fair to suspect that Goff’s people knew that and thought they’d take the risk anyway. You don’t make a speech on the same topic and with the same name as Brash’s by mistake.

And as we all know, it’s backfired terribly.

To be fair the speech itself isn’t too bad. It’s certainly no Orewa, regardless of the words Duncan Garner had to pretend Goff said in order to fit that narrative.

There is the same crude attempt to roll out historical myths and gloss over the history of colonisation (even Brash was more honest here), and the same attempt to play on Pakeha fears of Treaty ‘grievances’ running out of control.

But there’s no demonisation of Maori, no denial of their existence as a people, no attempt to paint them as a grasping minority with a ‘birthright to the upper hand’, accuse them or special privileges or write them out of our legislation and our institutions. The speech itself is certainly not racist – Brash’s was.

Still, you have to ask – and this is crucial – why else make a speech about race and nationhood at this time other than to dog-whistle to racists who don’t like National ‘pandering to the Maoris’? And why else would you suddenly change your position on the foreshore if not to try and ride the backlash?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those people who thinks you can’t talk about the Treaty without being a racist, and there are legitimate grounds for criticism of the actions of Harawira, the Maori Party and National. On much of the substance Goff is completely correct. But in politics it’s not always just about the substance, it’s about the subtext of what he’s saying and the political context in which he says it.

I just can’t believe that Goff and his advisers didn’t know what they were doing with this speech. And in doing so they’ve alienated much of the left and done huge damage to Labour’s relationship with Maori. To much of the rest of the electorate he just looks desperate.

It’s possible that Goff might have won over some of the iwi/kiwi racists with the speech, he might even see a poll bounce (though nothing that would compare favourably with Brash’s 17%) – but even if it works, is this any basis on which to build a sustainable progressive alternative?

Goff’s speech was stupid and wrong on so many levels. We deserve better than this.

106 comments on “Goff’s speech”

  1. r0b 1

    Of all the commentators so far, Campbell does the best job of looking at the actual issues:


    • SHG 1.1

      I liked Danyl’s comparison of Brash in 2004 with Goff 2009:


      • r0b 1.1.1

        It’s a very dishonest comparison.

        Go back and look at the two speeches side by side. They are very different beasts, and selectively quoting to make them look the same is not exactly helpful.

        • George D

          It is not in any way a dishonest comparison. I quote at length from the Goff speech below, and show how Goff used these ideas.

    • luva 1.2

      Brilliant politics from Phil Goff.

      He (and Labour) have been in real need of an issue that middle New Zealand will jump on board with them. The blue collar workers who deserted them over the past three years have had nothing from this ‘offer nothing opposition’ to get them excited.

      This is the issue that will bring those voters back home to Labour if Goff plays this correctly.

      With the F & S on the agenda Goff now has the opportunity to win back support and take on the Nats at their own game.

      I expect a 5% boost following this speech to both Goff and Labour.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    But in politics it’s not always just about the substance, it’s about the subtext of what he’s saying and the political context in which he says it.

    The subtext is often subjective and changes from person to person. I don’t believe that Goff and the Labour party were being, in any way, shape or form, racist with this speech. The racism is totally in the eye of the beholder.

  3. George D 3

    But there’s no demonisation of Maori, no denial of their existence as a people, no attempt to paint them as a grasping minority with a ‘birthright to the upper hand’, accuse them or special privileges or write them out of our legislation and our institutions. The speech itself is certainly not racist Brash’s was.

    You keep telling yourself that.

    There are bits about the threat of Maori denying access to the ‘birthright of all New Zealanders’.

    There are bits about this being cynical politics, rather than heartfelt – if he had been outside of Parliament in 2004 he would know just how heartfelt an issue it is.

    He cynically claims that the Maori Party will just accept a change in name – no they bloody won’t. They’ll leave Government if they don’t get what they came for.

    He uses the Grievance Industry idea that National, ACT, and NZ First have mined for years.

    And then he blames Maori for “opening wounds to fester”.

    Yeah, he knew what he was doing.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      And then he blames Maori for “opening wounds to fester’.

      That’s exactly what happened though. That’s not racist – just fact.

  4. Lew 4

    This is premised on the idea that the wounds were healed, or healing.

    They didn’t.

    Anyone who tells you they did is trying to sell you a line.


    • George D 4.1

      Or they’re a member of the Labour Party – the only people in this country who actually believe such a thing.

      • Lew 4.1.1


        Or they’re a member of the Labour Party

        … trying to sell you a Labour Party line, yeah.


      • snoozer 4.1.2

        Gee. your mate Key and the Maori Party have been saying the same a lot recently

      • rocky 4.1.3

        George don’t assume that all members of the Labour Party think that way – in fact the majority that I know don’t.

        • Lew

          Rocky, that’s wonderful. Let it be known!


        • George D

          Rocky, yeah I know. Joining Labour doesn’t make you a part of the hive-mind. You and others prove that.

          But I do get grumpy at the many ones do believe such things, and that appears to be the majority (or at least the most vocal cohort).

          • rocky

            The whole speech was clearly cynically designed to tap into those suppressed prejudices in the population much the same way Brash did. I can’t think of any other possible rationale behind it. Somehow I doubt whether Phil Goff himself believes half of what he has said, which I guess makes it all the worse.

            By “majority” or “most vocal cohort” I’m thinking you simply mean the leadership of the parliamentary wing of the party?

    • Lew 4.2

      This comment was in reply to DTB’s ”

      “And then he blames Maori for “opening wounds to fester’.

      That’s exactly what happened though. That’s not racist just fact.”


    • Draco T Bastard 4.3

      They didn’t say anything about the wounds – only the full and final compensation that had been agreed to.

  5. zelda 5

    You forget there are two ‘Maori parties’ in NZ, MP and Labour.
    And Labour gets far and away more votes than the splinter group who are in league with national.

    yet MP are the ones pushing separatism for their own ends

    • Lew 5.1


      Labour relinquished any claim to legitimate representation of Māori interests when they legislated away their right in law to test claims to the foreshore and seabed.


    • George D 5.2

      Their support has collapsed. This isn’t likely to send it any higher.

      Labour was third, behind National, in a recent poll of Maori voters.
      Even if an outlier, at any time in the last 70 years this would have been unthinkable.

  6. TightyRighty 6

    rose tinted spectacles make for wonderful reading don’t they? it’s a brash pure and simple, we’ll be seeing iwi/kiwi billboards next. knowing labour they won’t be funny this time. danyl over at dimpost has a good analysis of the speech.

    • TightyRighty 6.1

      juast had to add this

      ” a politician as irrelevant as goff”


      • snoozer 6.1.1

        Tighty you voted for iwi/kiwi and brash.

        because you’re a racist.

        now, show me what part of Goff’s sepech is racist.

        Actual quotes.

        • TightyRighty

          damn right i voted for brash, not because i’m racist, because i couldn’t stand the bilious bitch. and i like free market economies, less welfare etc etc. voting for brash does not make me racist. though of course now i’ve been labelled by such a luminary as snoozer i had better just roll over and accept it. but then again you voted for goff, so that makes you a racist by your own definition. what else was the point of goffs speech but to spread dissent against maori, danyl at the dimpost has done the analysis. go read it here http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2009/11/27/second-time-as-farce/ .

          just remember you racist you shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses, and just to throw in another cliche, if goff’s speech looks like a duck, talks like a duck, walks like a duck, it’s probably not trevor mallard. though we know who’ll be having the bbq this weekend.

          • felix

            TR if you voted for Brash you approved of his racist stand regardless of what other reasons you had for voting for him.

            Iwi vs Kiwi was a central plank of his campaign. If you didn’t approve of that message, you wouldn’t have voted for him.

            • Lew

              Felix, let that be a warning to those considering a vote for Goff Labour.


            • AliG

              What about the maoris who voted for Brash ??

              Keeping it real

            • Bright Red

              still promoting the Maori Party, Lew? After their selling out?

              Face it, the Maori Party is an elitist party that stands for an elite whose skin happens to be brown, just like the National Party stands for the pakeha elite.

              It’s not racist to point out that the Maori Party and National have enacted giant give aways to the Maori elite.

            • Lew

              BR, I’m not endorsing any party as much as observing that if Felix’s statement holds for Brash, it holds to an extent for Goff.

              My fervent hope is that Labour comes to its senses and stands down from its Orewa Lite positioning, which will be bad for its own fortunes and those of the country.


            • felix

              Lew, it’s not too late for Goff but he probably has some ‘splaining to do.

              If he chooses to carry on down this road I’d have to agree with you but he’s still a long way from where Brash took the Nats.

            • Lew

              Felix, I think it is too late, but as to the last part I agree (in spite of the title of my post suggesting the contrary).


            • felix

              Lew, I do hope you’re wrong about Goff, but you’re usually not 🙂

              Are you saying that for Labour to get past this they need to get rid of Phil?

            • Lew

              Felix, they need to replace him as leader, not necessarily get rid of him. Goff remains a redoubtable politician who commands great respect and will remain an asset in caucus, if he hasn’t let this dalliance with the leadership go to his head. More to the point, though, the regressive anrgy-middle-aged-white-man blue-collar cabal forming around Goff and Mallard needs to be expunged or muzzled. Labour cannot win on NZ First’s platform, and more to the point, by fighting on that platform they sacrifice their essential nature as a party of tolerant progress.

              And if they do that, the terrorists have won.


            • TightyRighty

              your a racist too then felix. seeing as you loooooove everything done by the labour party, your support them means you are racist.

              [lprent: quite an assumption. I read these pages all of the time and I have no idea which party felix votes for, let alone is a member of. But of course you could always claim divine knowledge. It’d fit your all-knowing profile – you always seem so sure about everything…… Pretty idiotic really ]

            • felix

              TR, it’s hard to respond to such a bizarre comment as it’s hard to find a single identifiable fact in it to get me started.

              I thought I’d made it clear how I felt about Goff’s remarks (I’m not in favour of them). I’ve not voted for the Labour Party before and at this rate I’m not likely to.

              You, on the other hand, voted for Dr Brash and all the racist bullshit he promoted.

              What do you think about Goff’s speech? Racist or not racist? Acceptable or not acceptable?

          • snoozer

            ah, not just a racist, a sexist too. nice. How do you feel about effeminate men? Good in a slightly uncomfortable way?

            I haven’t voted for Goff, and Goff’s speech isn’t racist. Brash’s was.

            You still haven’t shown how Goff’s speech is racist. Danyl’s anaylsis is the same quality as always. The phrases he compares are cherry-picked (the most moderate of Brash, the worst of Goff) and still hardly damning. Danyl should stick to the jokes

            • TightyRighty

              what the fuck are you talking about snoozer? the fact i call one woman, who my antipathy towards is well known, a bitch? your a douche, throwing labels in the hope they stick. i spend a lot of time with “effeminate” men as you so eloquently put it. great value, was on the piss with several last night. they all vote national too.

              danyl’s analysis is bang on. and by defending goff’s speech your showing your true racist feelings. haters and wreckers might be an apt comment at this stage. you might be all goody-goody on the outside, but deep down your scared of the indigenous people of new zealand aren’t you?

            • Bright Red

              maybe you should both cool it.

              But TR, you’re never going to have any credibility on race while you continue to unrepentently support Brash’s racist policies.

              For myself, I’m still waiting for someone to point out something racist that Goff said. I read the speech, I read Danyl’s weak effort to conflate it with Brash’s but you would have to be blind to think they’re saying the same thing. I mean look at Danyl’s first comparison:

              Here’s Brash in 04:

              So let me begin by asking, what sort of nation do we want to build?

              Is it to be a modern democratic society, embodying the essential notion of one rule for all in a single nation state?

              Or is it the racially divided nation, with two sets of laws, and two standards of citizenship, that the present Labour Government is moving us steadily towards?

              Here’s Goff yesterday:

              We can choose our future based on principle and with the interests of all New Zealanders at heart.

              Or we can have a country where one New Zealander is turned against another, Maori against Pakeha

              – they’re not remotely similar. Brash is claiming there are two standards of citizenship, two legal systems. Goff claims no such thing, he is saying that the Maori Party and National Party have been unfairly favouring a few Maori corporates and they could lead to racial division of the type that Brash intentionally stirred up.

            • TightyRighty

              Don’t be such a dick BR. I can actually choose to support someone without liking every single policy they espouse. Kind of like how i can support george bush but have absolutely no support for entering into the war in iraq.

              Really comparing thsoe two comments it couldn’t be more apparent the racism.

              “Or we can have a country where one New Zealander is turned against another, Maori against Pakeha

              – they’re not remotely similar. Brash is claiming there are two standards of citizenship, two legal systems. Goff claims no such thing, he is saying that the Maori Party and National Party have been unfairly favouring a few Maori corporates and they could lead to racial division of the type that Brash intentionally stirred up.”

              goffs not saying maori against maori, urban maori against rural maori, pakeha against pakeha, he is saying “Maori against Pakeha”. that division is based on race, therefore, it’s racist. so difficult to understand i know.

              haters and wreckers

            • Pascal's bookie

              Amazing how many people there are about the place that think they can just absolve themselves of the things they vote for.

              Politicians get their legitimacy from votes. If they say they are going to do something, and you vote for them, you are giving them the power to do those things they said they were going to do.

              I’d like to know why so many seem to think that just because they vote for some things they don’t like, then that means their vote doesn’t give legitimacy to those things being done?

        • TightyRighty


          absolute gold

    • Galeandra 6.2

      He does not.

  7. Tigger 7

    Strikes me this was a damned if you do/don’t situation. Goff had to say something. The public, who think about politics for all of 5 minutes a year rather than 24/7 like some of us, are thinking a bunch of things he says, thinking them in far harsher terms I might add.

    Do I agree with everything he said or how it was phrased? No.

    Do I hoped this means Labour can start mending the separatist mess that Key and co (Key’s race politics are just Brash’s in drag) have fostered and encouraged? Yes.

  8. Eddie, the way you present this issue suggests that the only way that Labour could not be accused of racism is to say nothing at all and that is an impossibly high standard to require.

    You are right about most of the commentators being well wide of the mark. Goff is being criticised for things that he did not say. The threat of his opponents spinning lines should not prevent him from discussing the issues.

    And there were some very important points to make during the week that the ETS was gutted. The treaty settlement process has been manipulated to provide National with cover for what was otherwise a shabby political deal. That deal will not benefit Maori as a whole, indeed ordinary Maori will be left with the bill as will ordinary Pakeha. Race was a red herring.

    And why should not National’s hyprocracy about the foreshore and seabed be exposed for what it is. They previously thought that any right should be extinguished without compensation and damaged race relations by whipping up hysteria. Their ability to now sound as if they will actually recognise and preserve these same rights show them as hyprocrites.

    They should be forced to state what they will do. There will be political damage for them in doing this, either from ordinary New Zealanders or from their redneck base but this is a situation that they have created.

    • George D 8.1

      “criticised for things he did not say”

      Here are some things he did say

      We can choose our future based on principle and with the interests of all New Zealanders at heart.

      Or we can have a country where one New Zealander is turned against another, Maori against Pakeha, in a way that Labour strongly rejects.

      The implication that the Maori Party are stirring turning Maori against white New Zealanders.

      They did this because some iwi who got forests in the nineties say their forests won’t be worth as much now.

      But every other forest owner is in the same position.

      Technically, yes. But the reality is that most others have been able to gain, while Maori have been shut out due to their treaty claim being settled only in 2008. He’s trying to make Maori look greedy.

      Some corporates saw the chance for a handout and naturally they’ve taken it.
      Some of these are very large incorporations, and they are very sophisticated businesspeople.

      And they’re hiding behind some of the poorest in the country who won’t benefit from this at all.

      They are iwi. They are not corporates. They have corporate business structures for their assets because that is what benefits the iwi.

      Race is a red herring in this deal. It’s about subsidies for big corporations, and I am not going to shy away from saying so.

      I opposed a special deal for Rio Tinto, just as I oppose the special deal for a Ngai Tahu corporation.

      Again, Maori are greedy corporates.

      the foreshore and seabed, too.

      That’s another issue that is being cynically re-opened for politics, and not for principle.

      Does he really believe that Maori do not care deeply about the Seabed and Foreshore? His head is stuck firmly in the sand if he does.

      The National Party is trying to erase that part of its history.

      That may be true. But at least they have moved on and are doing the right thing on this issue (even if for the wrong reasons).

      It’s hard to see why the country should be put through all the grief just to put a new brand on law that’s working.

      There will only be grief if racists and populist politicians whip it up.

      In reality it may be no more than simply renaming the existing Act, with pretty much the existing arrangements.

      Someone should tell Turia that. I’m sure she’d be surprised.

      Access to the beaches is a birthright for New Zealanders, Maori and Pakeha alike, and must be preserved.

      Oh, come on! Tell me you’re not saying this. Maori have always promised access to the beaches, and to suggest otherwise is a bad-faith racist allegation.

      The settlement maintains Crown Ownership but provides full respect for Maori customary rights.

      Only because you legislated over the Treaty of Waitangi.

      A respectful, forward-looking country or one stuck in shabby, short-term deals that divide New Zealanders, and set one against another.

      You Maori are setting New Zealanders against each other.

      New Zealanders can draw on our heritage to enrich our community – or to find cause for division and to impose that on generations to come.

      What we are seeing are decisions that take the wrong choice.

      What is missing is leadership that brings New Zealanders together.

      Bloody divisive Maori.

      • mickysavage 8.1.1

        George D

        I am reading Phil’s words and still trying to see what is wrong with what he actually said.

        This was an attack on the Maori Party. Not on Maori.

        • aj

          Thats the exact way I read it too.

        • George D

          It attacked central North Island iwi, and Ngai Tahu directly. It played on the idea of a grievance industry. It played on the idea of wealthy Maori on the backs of poor whites. It asks Maori to leave the past behind, on terms set by Labour.

          It attacked Maori who opposed Labour’s legislating over of the Treaty of Waitangi to prevent claims being tested – a large percentage by any estimation.

          Yeah, you can’t see the racism. Because you’re blind.

          • Craig Glen Eden

            So no one can talk about a Maori Organisation without it being seen as racist. Oh Ok then George D who made up this rule.

      • Hugh 8.1.2

        To me you’ve hit the nail on the head, George. Some people look at an iwi corporation and see an ancient indigenous unit that has just organised a temporary corporate shell as a defensive measure against colonialism. Others see a corporation that has masterfully branded itself using the name and superficial traditions of an ancient indigenous unit in order to avoid the ‘greedy corporations’ stereotype.

        Clearly you come down on the former side; Goff comes down on the latter (at least on this speech – he’s barely been consistent on this issue, to say nothing of his party). However, i think saying ‘an iwi is an iwi, not a corporation’ is a bit of an over-simplification. As far as I can tell there is no distinctly iwi manner of transacting corporate business. I’m sure you’re aware of the many instances in which Ngai Tahu Industries, to take a prominent example, has indulged in pretty suspect managerial practices of a kind with those undertaken by non-indigenous corporations.

    • SHG 8.2

      there were some very important points to make during the week that the ETS was gutted

      And now no-one is going to make those points, or even remember to have the discussion, because now everyone is talking about what a bunch of racists the Labour Party are.

      Goff’s speech has given National’s ETS legislation a get-out-of-jail-free card. Everyone has forgotten about the ETS already because of Goff’s speech, which is what they’re talking about now.

      National couldn’t have planned this better.

    • Exactly. Mr Goff did not need to make this speech. He did, and has opened himself up to accusations, fair or not, that provoke threads like this. Shane Jones and others were running a successful line on the ETS deal and its consequences. That thrust is now clouded by an unnecessary debate about the Palmerston North speech.I think that it’s poor politics, and someone has given the wrong advice..

  9. Craig Glen Eden 9

    As you have pointed out Eddie the substance of this speech is not racists, full stop.

    So why have some on the left responded so emotionally.

    It should be remembered that this speech was passed by Labours Maori affairs spokesperson PH and Shane Jones. They had no problems with it either, why ? Because what was said was not racist. What was said was true.

    Labour have sat back and given the Maori Party the benefit of the doubt, what has become clear is that they are not acting in a way to advance either hard up Maori or other Kiwis. Remember Turia said during the election campaign that the MP was not just a party for Maori but for other NZers as well.

    The facts are they have sold out their voters in a similar way that Douglas and Prebble sold out Labour voters.
    Labours Maori Mps have also been very tolerant, after all the message from the MP before the election was Labour has done nothing for you, another words the Labour Maori MPs have not done their job they have taken your vote for granted.

    Personally I have found that approach really offensive its an attack on these MPS mana because the MP message/sell line is simply not true.

    Labour Maori Mps have worked hard for their people for a very long time, these people are not some new kids on the block with some new swanky branding.They know the reality of the NZ political system, everyone policy what ever it might be has to be won. Good on Geoff and good on the Labour Maori mps for telling it like it is The Maori Party are sellouts and what Hone said was racist and Key is gutless.

  10. Tim Ellis 10

    I think the experience of Orewa showed that major political party leaders have to take extra care when addressing Maori and race issues. It is just too easy to pander to the extermists and open old wounds. Mr Goff knew this and did it anyway. His speech is much like one that could have come from Dr Brash or Mr Peters. It was very cynical and does little to advance the country’s interests.

  11. Lew 11

    There were plenty of ways to address the issues of Hone Harawira’s idiocy, the māori party’s intransigence over the ETS and the National Party’s duplicity over the Foreshore and Seabed without making the general Māori population the whipping boy, again. That the brains trust of the Labour party could imagine no way to do so, and resorted to an approach which cannot but alienate a vast swathe of their support base is the strongest proof yet seen that the party is adrift of both its principles and its political instinct.

    One good start would have been to address them as separate issues — which they are — rather than trying to tie them into a hackneyed redneck narrative about How The Country’s Going To The Dogs (TM).

    Shane Jones, your chance may come sooner than expected.


    • marty mars 11.1

      god i hope you’re wrong about jones lew

      • Lew 11.1.1

        Marty, although he is a marvellously capable politician I have no great love for Jones, but I can think of nobody who would do more to restore credibility to Labour among tangata whenua. And Labour’s other leadership prospects in the short to medium term are fairly dire.

        More than anything, cross-party willingness to work with Māori rather than against or ostensibly for them is the only way forward, and the sooner that realisation dawns on our leaders, the better.


    • Wackey Leftie 11.2

      Only in Jones own mind.

  12. outofbed 12

    It seems odd that people seem to think that this will damage the Labour party relationship with the MP. The Orewa speech was blatantly racist the whole country was covered by iwi/kiwi billboards and supported but many of the same National politicians people that the MP has sold out to now.
    Did that stop them dealing with the racist national Party ? not for an instant
    The Mp seem to have extremely short memories, which is ironic considering the historical injustices perpetrated on the Maori people, one would think they have very long memories.
    Key was attacking the the MP not Maori although it was a stupid speech if you ask me It relies on the press to accurately report/frame what you are saying.
    They do not do this
    Funny that

  13. Sanctuary 13

    I am not to worried with the howls of outrage from the Chardonnay Socialists who are screaming that they “can’t vote for Labour” anymore. They are margin of error stuff in terms of voting power.

    Goff is right on the money that the slightest hint of a back-room deal to stitch up the F&S in a deal between rich white and brown fat cats will produce a massive Pakeha backlash.

    Then you’ll see your 50,000 people on Queen Street.

  14. ropata 14

    It’s a strange inversion when calls for retaining New Zealand sovereignty and integrity as one nation are interpreted as racist by the media, and even contributors to this blog. Goff has simply followed in Helen Clark’s footsteps in wanting to retain national treasures such as our beaches safe for ALL New Zealanders. I can’t find any racism in Goff’s desire to treat everybody the same, or desire to find a lasting resolution to Treaty grievances.

    It is sad that many people are following “hater and wrecker” Harawira’s example of seeing racism everywhere instead of trying to be constructive.

  15. The pointy heads in labour have decided goff needs to go and have set him up – i mean the speech was entitled the same as brash’s – that was deliberate

    • George D 15.1

      Nah, just a coincidence. I mean, delivering a speech with the same name, to a similar audience, on the theme of divisive Maori, about the Seabed and Foreshore? That’s got to be a coincidence.

  16. Gooner 16

    Yet it’s now Labour Party policy to have racist seats in Parliament and on the Auckland Council. What’s it to be? Racist seats or Nationhood?

    This from a few months ago (link below). I was quite prescient, I thought, on my “Goff needs to move to the right” remark.


  17. Herodotus 17

    Just what the country needs a desperate and appearring shallow opposition leader and a rudderless PM.
    For all of Nats issues in 12 months ACC etc wil be forgotten about. Phil may appraoch Bill E election result.

  18. randal 18

    It is amazinghow so many new zealanders with no historical understanding but yet in a position to influence the discourse have recourse to inventing new zealands history as they go along.
    then they they say that it and only it is the true history and whatsmore they will get angry if you disagree.
    first of all the real history is much better than the pap that the pr flacks hand out and secondly it is only by studying the real history that we can really understand how we got here.
    thrashing around in a sea of lies and deciet only serves to accentuate differences, harden untenable positions and stop any dialogue.
    I dont believe that tthat is what people really want and the sooner a few notes of realism intrude the better.

  19. Bill 19

    So much for Labour rediscovering and reconnecting with its working class roots.

    Why didn’t he leave out from having another go at Hone and all the rest of it and simply hammer home the class issue instead which is, lets face it, at the heart of this ETS b/s.?

    I know the corporate media wouldn’t have liked such a line as they would rather report on comparatively safe identity politics over class politics any day of the week…but such an angle would have resonated given the ill feeling over the rip offs being perpetrated by the banking industry and by association, corporations in general these days

    Instead we get a strange pussyfooting punch pulling mish mash of I’m not sure what…which makes you wonder if labour even want to reconnect with their natural base. Or whether they believe that doing so would see them consigned to the wilderness by the corporate media which leaves them all fingers and thumbs. They seem to lack a theoretical base which could act as a launch pad for any discourse they might want to generate.

    • George D 19.1

      There is a huge class issue that could have been used – and you can see it in parts there.

      But by tacking the issue of bi-culturalism, nationhood, and the S&F to it, he really muddies the water. We’re being asked to resent, but we’re being asked to resent in ways that are divisive.

      • snoozer 19.1.1

        you’re right. This is a class issue. and it’s difficult because race clouds the issue when its Maori elites being criticised.

        I think Goff is really trying to say the ETS and even the F&S issue, which is really about Maori corporates wanting special access for aquaculture, are an elite ripping us off.

        That said, he failed to make the issue overtly about class, and left in such a way it would inevtiably been seen as about race. That’s not accidental, it’s not racist but it’s a bit dumb.

  20. handle 20

    If Goff and his “strategists” did not want to be interpreted as racist, then why even mention it? As George says they even copied Brash’s Orewa title and some of the content. You’d have to be deaf to miss the whistling.

    So much for taking a good hard look at their faults. Defending Labour’s foreshore mess is bad politics unless you think the RSAs and bowling greens are where all the votes will come from in the next election. Goff is toast and after 2011 National will get to sell everything that’s not tied down after all. Thanks a bunch, tossers.

  21. The Voice of Reason 21

    Top post, Eddie. Rather thought provoking, even though I disagree with most of your conclusions. If nothing else, it should bury the canard that you are a top Labour staffer, eh?

    For a starter, I don’t think it’s ‘backfired terribly’. That would require widespread condemnation from the public and it’s not happening anywhere I look. Just the opposite, from the conversations I’ve had today. This has been a great couple of weeks for Goff and Labour and his appearance at the Bike rally has been a sign that he can connect with punters, if he finds the right issues.

    I see this speech as an attempt to continue that procgress and connect with another group of voters; the Winston Firsters and swinging voters who went blue at the last election. If Labour don’t pick up their votes, no amount of lefty political purity will garner enough seats to lead the next Government. No coincidence it was at a Grey power meeting, obviously.

    Whether we like it or not, Labour will have to put up at least some popularist policies if they want to roll Key. The alternative is to descend into backbiting and self mulilation a la the Australian Liberal party.

    Goff is growing into the job and now seems to be both finding the points of connection with Kiwis and regularly beating Key to the lead news stories. Something that wasn’t happening even a month ago.

    Can’t wait to see the polls over the next few weeks and see if the tide is really turning against this talent free government. Here’s hoping.

  22. hypo 22

    Well as much as I don’t like it…

    You can say that this is a complete botched legislation, that it is penalising taxpayers, subsidising business at a time when most of us are being told to cut costs and jobs and get a tiny reactionary soundbit.

    here he got the lead item twice- other politicians were forced to react to him and Shane Jones’ followup today was getting credence.

    the government avalance of urgency and rushed legislation has to be checked and the opposition has to get mileage and support. Perhaps not the way to do it- but nothing else apart from the bikers seemed to be biting.

  23. Bright Red said, “Face it, the Maori Party is an elitist party that stands for an elite whose skin happens to be brown, just like the National Party stands for the pakeha elite.”

    yeah – no elite in labour – still manage to do exactly the same stuff as the gnats though.

  24. Zaphod Beeblebrox 24

    Facts, ideas and science can’t be ignored and will stand the test of time. Goff is correct on all these issues in this case.

    Interesting that not ONE poster here has even tried to defend the ETS legislation.

    • Lew 24.1

      ZB, you appear to be labouring under the delusion that people who oppose Goff’s appeal to redneckery are necessarily in favour of the ETS as amended and passed. It is perfectly possible (for someone who isn’t a blindly partisan hack) to be opposed to both.

      The main reason why the speech was bad and wrong is that it lumped in a whole lot of unrelated issues into an overall narrative about what was wrong with the country — with Māori at the centre.


      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 24.1.1

        Read the speech, there is no doubt, it is the opportunism of National and MP politicians and their vested interests that are the target.

        Glad that you agree about the ETS legislation. If you read the Maori Party submission to the ETS Select Committee again you can see that they voted for something they don’t believe in.

        • Lew

          ZB, I’m familiar with the speech, and familiar enough with the general discourse in which it is founded to see the copious handwaving which generalises ‘the party’ out to ‘the people’. Yes, at a policy level it’s explicitly directed at the party, but at a discursive level it speaks to the old tropes which are wheeled out every time this comes up in NZ politics: separatism, brown privilege, whitey being denied his birthright, race war. Labour should be better than that.

          You can read my expanded thoughts on the māori party’s position WRT the ETS here.


  25. Geek 25

    The content of the speech itself was carefully crafted so that Phil could point to it and say “there is nothing racist there”. The tone of the speech was clearly designed to appeal to the same group of people that the Brash speech appealed too. He is trying to deliver a more middle ground version of the Orewa speech in the hopes that he can draw that large voting base his way while still pushing the line that he has said nothing racist.

    It is a thin tight rope to walk and it is a long fall should he step either way. The big show will be how much his polling goes up after the speech. I don’t think it will get the response Brash’s did but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a pretty good jump.

    The next election is going to be the hardest vote I have ever cast. National is no longer an option. Labour is doing its best to make itself as unappealing. Not voting will only draw the “don’t vote then you can’t complain” statements.

    Bill and Ben better be careful as if they put their names up next time they may actually have to show up to parliament with all the protest votes they could be looking at.

    • Bored 25.1

      “The next election is going to be the hardest vote I have ever cast. National is no longer an option. Labour is doing its best to make itself as unappealing.”

      So true Geek, I have never been able to bring myself to vote to the right, shooting my own side has often been the hardest choice. Goff does not make it easier.

    • felix 25.2

      The content of the speech itself was carefully crafted so that Phil could point to it and say “there is nothing racist there’. The tone of the speech was clearly designed to appeal to the same group of people that the Brash speech appealed too.

      That is pretty much my reading of it too, Geek. It’s not the same song Brash was singing, but it’s in the same key.

    • Quoth the Raven 25.3

      Not voting will only draw the “don’t vote then you can’t complain’ statements.

      Who cares if idiots might say “if you don’t vote you can’t complain”. Not voting is a valid option. It could be that you feel no party standing represents your views. It could be you think voting won’t bring about any meaningful change. It could be that you think the act of voting is immoral (and there are very valid reasons to think that). Or your not voting could be like a vote of no confidence in the whole system. Either way people should look at not voting as a viable option in any election.

  26. rave 26

    Goff was on solid ground referring to class not race. The MP is playing the race card to get special deals for rich Maori at the expense of most working class Maori. Theyll do the same with National’s repeal of F&S getting property rights for iwi capitalists which won’t trickle down to most Maori.
    Goff should have left it at that but he had to ahve a go a Hone with the old reverse racism argument. And that’s racist because there aint no such thing as reverse racism. Racism is not just abusing someone on the basis of skin, culture etc., there has to be some material benefit at the end of it. Its attacking them to get their land, fisheries or to keep them in the underclass etc. Calling someone a white mofo is sticks and stones and has some historical justification, calling someone uncivilised or underclass is to repress and oppress them as nobodies till kingdom come.

    captcha: surviving

  27. Andy B 27

    I have to say that Goff is currently alienating me. This and apologising for the Clark govt’s ‘mistakes’. I’m considering moving to the Greens.

  28. Gooner 28

    Andy, if you do that then Goff’s plan is working.

  29. Richard Calder 29

    I’m surprised this is being descriped as a “Goff speech” rather than a Labour speech.
    The points Goff made seem to echo the points Jones made in Parliament a day before: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA0911/S00424.htm
    Jones seems to be leading this debate, Goff was merely backing up his colleague rather than leading a debate.

    I note that Horomia and Jones have provided fulsome support for Goff:
    Also Grant Robertson and Clare Curran have supported it on RedAlert

    For those who are opposed to it, perhaps more appropriate to criticise the Labour Caucus rather than Goff.

    • Marty G 29.1


      any relation to Cam, Richard? Because that sure is some poor spin.

      The post is called Goff’s speech because Goff delivered it. It would be ridiculous to call it Labour’s speech just as it would be to talk about National’s Letterman appearance.

      • Lew 29.1.1

        Marty, you’ve been curiously quiet on this, and I half expected you to come out in support (and not just because we usually disagree). What’s your take?


        • Marty G

          Well, I haven’t been quiet really, I had input into this post.

          I think if you look at the substance of the speech, I agree with Gordon Campbell, Tumeke!, and Eddie.This isn’t a rehash of Brash. The criticisms of the ETS stuff are legitimate and he’s right that National will try to keep the existing F and S framework under a different name (where else can they go?)

          On the politics, I’m not so sure as Eddie that it’s bad politics. Eddie’s position is that Goff is pissing off large parts of Labour’s base and courting rednecks. I disagree. Certainly (and I’ve heard directly) a lot of Maori supporters of Labour are pissed and there may be a strategic error in that this speech could serve to solidify the Maori Party in the face of a ‘common foe’ as it were just as it looked like falling apart.

          But I don’t think that this speech panders to racists. Inevitably, some racists will be attracted by what they see as an anti-Maori message, just as their counterparts on the left are repelled by it but there’s a larger group (one hates to use the term ‘middle New Zealand’) who are wondering just why National is making these uncosted deals that favour a few corporations who are lucky enough to be represented by a party in Parliament, and who are concerned to see that full and final settlements of Treaty breaches are now not full and final if it is politically expedient

          (there is obviously no legal case, and it cannot be that any new policy that impingements on property gained in a settlement gives rise to compensation anymore than a policy that benefits such property results in the iwi owing the Crown).

          so in sum: the speech isn’t anti-Maori but it was inevitably going to be interpreted that way by media and many on the left. in that respect it’s a mistake and it remains to be seen if it is costly or not. but the speech does raise legitimate issues that will resonate with many (non-racist) people and I think it may come to be viewed as a success in that respect.

          And if we look at the meta-narrative, this is about Labour not being seen as pandering to special interest groups in fact criticising National for favouring such a group (the iwi elite that is, not Maori in general), a further separation of Goff from the bad/unpopular side of Clark’s legacy.

          I am completely of the mind that for the last 25 years Labour has been hijacked by the liberal wing and the socialist wing has been forgotten, and that is what National turned into the nanny state, ‘out of touch’ memes – Labour wasn’t doing enough for the working person, too much social policy, not enough economic.

          If Goff can go aggressively left on materialist issues, I’ll be happy.

          • Lew

            Thanks, Marty, your position is as I thought, but based on a coherent and pretty balanced analysis nonetheless. Which is more than can be said for some of this strategy’s backers.


            Captcha: ‘material’

  30. Richard Calder 30

    No relation!
    And I’m sorry I;m not good at spin. Wasn’t trying to be. Just making a point, perhaps inarticulately that from the evidence available this is a Labour position and treating it as if Goff is apart from his caucus on this seems counter to the evidence.

    I take the point that it is a Goff speech and fairly described like this. I was trying to short hand a point that a lot of the criticism seems to be directed at Goff, and that’s fair to an extent as he delivered the speech and is the leader.

    BUT the criticism should also be aimed at Jones (who started this argument), Horomia, Robertson and Curran.

  31. Daveski 31

    It has to be bad if eddie starts dissing Goff.

  32. BLiP 32

    The speech reeks of desperation and is either a cynical dog whistle or an example of a paucity of intellect. Both probably.

    Also, it pisses me off when simple historical facts are ignored or distorted by politicians. Perhaps Goff didn’t know, but Maori and Pakeha have stood side by side on foreign battlefields since 1900. I have neither the time nor the inclination to address the other inaccuracies.

    • Harry Renouf 32.1

      BLiP – look forward to your critique of Jones’s speech – presume you think it reeks of desperation and is either a cynical dog whistle or an example of a paucity of intellect or both

  33. goomba 33

    Labour havent Goff a chance in the next election.

    Andrew Little FTW.

  34. anonymouse 34

    I see http://www.democracymum.co.nz has more to say on Goff’s speech and Pita Sharples on her blog this morning.

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