Phil Goff made an excellent speech yesterday. One that showed far more direction, and a lot of promise for going forward. Hopefully Labour can capitalise on this much better than they did on the excellent “The Many, Not The Few” speech. They should be able to – yesterday’s “Kiwi Dream” speech contained much more meat to chew on that can continue to be processed; and Labour also seem to finally be getting to grips with opposition and improving their organisation.
Goff did well to contrast 2 worlds – both the two worlds that are life under a National Government and the two worlds that are the difference between a Key Government and a Goff Government. A Key Government where ordinary kiwis are struggling as their reduced pay-packet doesn’t meet rising costs, where even those on 60, 70 or 80k aren’t benefiting, just a tiny elite, who are enjoying more foreign holidays (like Key to Hawaii…), and expanding wealth at the expense of the rest of us. Or a Goff Government where they wouldn’t be scared to intervene to help kiwis out, that works pro-actively for ordinary New Zealanders – small businesses, farmers and workers alike.
And he got angry at where National, with their laissez-faire lack of a plan are letting us drift. To a New Zealand where rapidly growing inequality leads to increased prisons, teen pregnancy, drug problems, obesity and physical and mental health problems. Goff’s at his best when he’s angry – he needs to get angry more often.
Of course such strong leadership brought a reaction from the right – DPF got his National orders and he and Audrey Young immediately focussed on how good Andrew Little was – with implication he was Goff’s leadership rival, to undercut him. Andrew Little was excellent, but there is no rivalry. The Sunday Star Times had a bizarre front page about how John Key was too personally popular, and somehow that was bad for National. All trying to take the air out of the revitalised Labour conference.
In Britain, party conference season is a large media event that gets a lot of news coverage. They have a week focusing on each of the main parties, and their policies can be properly presented. Instead of just the foreign ownership issue being excellently discussed, there would be time to focus on other major planks. Like the rejection of neo-lib laissez-faire economics for a managed exchange rate and more balanced monetary policy; the new evidenced-based child-centred social policy that proposes a massive overhaul in the way our society and government plan for our future; the rejection of the 90 day fire-at-will law and Helen Kelly and the CTU’s proposal for much fairer collective bargaining on an industry-wide basis. The other parties have an unwritten agreement to keep a low profile (unlike John Key’s visit to Mana), so that for the good of democracy the media can focus on each party and assess them on their policies. It would be great for us to have that here.