Political decisions

Written By: - Date published: 5:15 am, March 29th, 2011 - 87 comments
Categories: Politics - Tags:

I don’t think Goff is going to go just yet but it’s certainly not off the cards. It’s not exactly a secret that nobody wants the job (or perhaps it’s simply that nobody can get the numbers) but one more scandal, or an addition to this one, or a drop in the polls and caucus might be pushed into changing leaders whether they think it is an opportune time to do so or not.

That said, sometimes the right thing to do is the right thing to do whether the political cost/benefit analysis adds up or not. In fact it often turns out that the right thing to do was the smart thing to do despite the perceived political costs or the apparent bad timing.

While I don’t always agree with Chris Trotter he put up a post yesterday that looks at just this matter. As he scathingly puts it:

Nowhere in these calculations does the fate of the people Labour was originally established to defend rate a mention. The fate of solo mums and their kids; the fate of the tens-of-thousands of sickness and invalid beneficiaries; the fate of young Maori and Pasifika school-leavers languishing on the dole; the fate of state house tenants facing eviction: all count for nothing in the cynical algebra of personal ambition. They are a useful source of rhetorical fuel – nothing more.

I hope Chris is wrong about that. I don’t know what will happen with Goff and I don’t think anyone does. And unlike Chris I’m not sure whether keeping him or ditching him will lead to the best outcome for the party and its constituency. I simply don’t know enough about what’s going on.

But I do know that every single person in Labour’s caucus will privately be doing the maths on whether to keep him or not. I can only hope that they factor in what is best for the party and for the people it represents. Because there is nothing else as important in determining The Right Thing To Do.

There is more to the political game than just gaming it.

87 comments on “Political decisions”

  1. tsmithfield 1

    I think Labour politicians need to be asking two questions:

    1. Is it likely that we will win if PG stays in charge?

    Sure, it is possible he could stage a remarkable recovery. However, based on past and current performance, the answer to that question is surely “no”.

    2. Is it likely we will do any worse by replacing PG?.

    Given the dire position Labour is in right now, the answer is surely “probably not”.

    The likely answers to these two questions seems to point to a clear and easy decision to ditch PG. The sooner the better so that the replacement has time to gain traction before the election. If the Labour still fails, then the new leader can hardly be blamed for the poor performance of PG. The obvious answer would be that Labour’s fate had already been sealed, and the new leader was on a hiding to nothing. So it would seem to be a no lose situation for a new leader IMO.

    Note that National aren’t calling for PG to resign. I think this is because they want him to stay in the game for as long as possible.

    • My advice to Phil Goff and to Labour is to ignore TS’s advice. He does not want you to succeed!

      I would suggest however the following:

      1. Restart campaigning on issues of importance. There is a public meeting next Monday, April 4 at West Auckland on privatisation where Phil is speaking. This is a far more important subject to be dealing with. It presents a good chance to kick start things.
      2. Phil needs to get out more. He is really personable in the flesh, just like Helen. The suggestion that they are not is a meme built up by the right wingers that is frankly crap.
      3. The rest of the caucus must fall solidly behind Phil. Those that do not should start feeling the fire of the party telling them that they are the party’s servants, not its masters.
      4. Judith Tizard should be persuaded to enjoy her retirement.
      5. Any further significant breaches of behaviour standards by MPs should be met by the following response: Day 1 – relieved of their portfolios and stood down. Day 2 – decision is announced. Day 3 – their future in the party is considered.

      And finally from now on ignore issues of sleaze. We just do not do them as well as the nats. Just concentrate on the big important issues like poverty, education, climate change …

      • tsmithfield 1.1.1

        Micky, for the good of the party (National), Phil needs to stay on. So, don’t assume I am trying to lead the flock astray.

        The problem for Phil now is that he is attracting a strong negativity bias. Thus, anything positive he does is unlikely to get much media attention. However, the slightest negative thing he does is likely to be plastered all over the media. I think he has now passed the point of no return, so replacing him is the only viable option IMO. Not what I want though, because he is National’s greatest asset at the moment.

      • lprent 1.1.2

        Yeah, feed the sleaze over here. We could be like…. duh… the whaleoil of the left. Nah lets give those to Tumeke.

        The dogwhistling Farrar of the left…

      • the sprout 1.1.3

        micky, your loyalty and perseverence are laudable but that list of things Labour needs to do has been stated again and again and again for the last 2 years – and still no action, still just the same weak, stale, terminally uninspiring performance we’ve all lamented since Goff inherited the leadership.

        there comes a time when perseverence becomes dysfunctional.

        • TightyRighty

          Isn’t the definition of stupidity trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? So by definition, the labour party as a parliamentary party is stupid.

          “Attack key”
          “It’s nationals fault Darren got busted”

  2. Dr Terry Creagh 2

    Goff (a pleasant and well educated man) really ought to have been replaced late last year for now is likely to be too late. It appears the Labour Party is content to flag this election, unsure of its readiness to rule. I would have thought Cunliffe perfectly capable of taking the much needed dynamic lead.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Well spoken, perfect coverage of the Right Wing talking points.

    • Tangled up in blue 2.2

      Yes Cunliffe has many of Goffs positive attributes . . . but Cunliffe also has has a spine and a voice and is not afraid to use it.

      I can only hope that they factor in what is best for the party and for the people it represents.

      If this happens then Goff will be gone. How could Goff possibly be good for the party?

  3. Lew 3

    Fair enough, Eddie, but I’d argue that even from a purely ‘game’-centric perspective, rolling Goff is a decent strategy. The status quo isn’t working and Goff’s credibility is eroding. Because he lacks credibility & continues to supply a steady stream of scandal, the serious stuff barely rates. Gradual change isn’t going to cut it, but a sharp reinvigoration of the party and its narrative could potentially turn things around. I think things are too far gone for a win, but I think a decent showing and some new faces in the new year could form a sound basis for the future.

    That is to say, sometimes standing up for your self can be good ‘game’ also.


    • Topher 3.1

      I don’t get the impression this post is calling on Goff to stay, it’s just saying that whatever the calculation, the MPs making it need to factor in the interests of the people they’re supposed to be representing.

      • Lew 3.1.1

        Oh, indeed — just saying that ‘what’s good for the game’ and ‘what’s right’ aren’t mutually exclusive. Not a very bold statement, I admit, though it does get lost quite often.

    • marg 3.2

      I agree Lew. I can’t understand this mantra that it is ‘too late’ to change leaders. The most obvious benefit would be the fascination by the press with a new leader providing Labour with a much needed boost in media coverage. This might allow Labour to actually start articulating their core values rather than macho bullshit about motorbikes in a pathetic attempt to beat Key at his own shallow game.

      I’ve also heard the concern that Labour would look ‘desperate’. I see that as easily countered by Labour is ‘listening’ to voters. Voters had continued to poll Goff and Labour poorly so the party had listened to the people of NZ (‘we care too much about the damage done to NZ families by National to allow John Key to win this election’).

      God, put David Cunliffe in charge. He presents well, has done his time, is intelligent, non-threatening to floating voters, represents a diverse constituency in his electorate and seems to have some clear values to lead the party forward and capture the publics imagination. Yes he went through an overly arrogant phase but he put his head down and learnt from it.

      Labour has to realise this isn’t a game, New Zealanders can’t survive another term of National. They are going to rip us apart

    • Lanthanide 3.3

      Yeah, I somewhat agree Lew.

      Even if Labour mostly kept doing what they’re doing now, if they changed leadership and made it look like they were changing direction, even if they really kept doing mostly the same things, they’d get more media coverage and some people who reflexively wouldn’t vote Goff would now start to consider them again, they can hold it up to the public as the straw that broke the camels back.

      Now is also the best moment they’re going to get to roll the leadership. The granddaughter of all budgets is going to play into Labour’s hand, they just need someone to capitalise on it. I think Goff can do this, but the point is they need to change leadership before the budget. This flap over DH is the best excuse they’re going to get.

      Conversely if they do NOT roll Goff now, if they do it in a few months time (especially after the budget), the public is going to wonder why they waited, and realise that all of this ‘solidarity’ talk over the DH affair was just a ruse.

  4. chris73 4

    I’m almost starting to feel sorry for PG:


    With friends like these…

  5. PeteG 5

    Last night gobsmacked posted this. It highlights a key issue – while Goff is the centre of attention for Labour woes, he is only the head of a bigger problem. Changing leader will make bugger all difference unless the whole caucus unifies and works together – and can be clearly seen to be working together. What chance of that happening any time soon, no matter who leads?

    All of this year, until their last game, the Black Caps were very disappointing. Against the odds they played as a strong team and toppled South Africa. But can Labour do anything like this?

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      Comparing Labour to the Black Caps isn’t so good – they haven’t got into the Final yet. Unless that’s the deliberate subtext to your comparison.

      • PeteG 5.1.1

        The Caps have already got further than expected. Labour are running a risk of underperforming in November and not being in contention for the coalition finals.

    • Changing leader will make bugger all difference unless the whole caucus unifies and works together

      Interesting isn’t it how invisible the Labour caucus has been when it comes to boldy defending and praising Goff, presenting as a unifed, commited and inspired team. Why would that be I wonder?

  6. Because there is nothing else as important in determining The Right Thing To Do. There is more to the political game than just gaming it.

    You mean Eddie that political discussions in NZ should focus on matters such as unemployment and poverty and environmental destruction rather than what a great guy smile and wave is and what a plonker PG is and how the sexual peccadilloes of MPs should be analysed in the minutest of details?

    How radical!

    Maybe the debate ought to be taken out to the street to ordinary kiwis to talk about what they hold to be important rather than this self absorbing feeding frenzy that is currently occurring.

    • Herodotus 6.1

      MS your Lab people do not give the impression that they want to engage, or that someone else can see beyond the rhetoric and ther is lack of depth in what is being said e.g. Under Lab we had nil net debt comment, but how about NZ debt, current account, housing bubble, finance coys, leaky homes etc. that is the problem for me.
      It also does not help given the Presidential based elcetions we have. Only Nat and Lab leaders. I cannot remember if there was a debate involving Finance spokesman last election. Just send out the figureheads to do battle.

      • mickysavage 6.1.1


        MS your Lab people do not give the impression that they want to engage

        I am certain that they do but I rely on personal contact rather than the MSM or the internet to form that impression.

        I do not disagree with you that this is at least a perception problem that needs to be addressed aggressively.

        There are advanced economic plans that are internally consistent and comprehensive and that will be announced in the fullness of time but I know that this also sounds like blah blah blah …

    • Bored 6.2

      To quote Gobsmacked They are a self-centred, spineless and apathetic bunch and I’m thoroughly pissed off with them. And yes I vote Labour. That’s why I’m pissed off.
      Mickey there are real issues out there as you say, but who amongst the Labour team really care. All I see is sectoral interests for minorities, all very lovely under the big umbrella but you always have the feeling that their interests trump that of the people Labour purport to represent. And that is why it is so hard to get those people to the polls to vote Labour.

      In one of the few honest bits of “Labour” politics of sectoral interests Turiana threw her toys out of the cot and formed a sectoral party, showing that she was actually a brown Nat wearing a red rosette. Then we had Chris Carter showing his true allegiances claiming he was being picked on because he was gay.

      For saying that the broad tenets of the party should trump sectoral minority interests I expect to be roundly pilloried by every minority person who thinks that they are special and that they deserve more representation than the rest of us.

      capcha: Forgotten…..those who Labour purport to represent.

      • mickysavage 6.2.1

        For saying that the broad tenets of the party should trump sectoral minority interests I expect to be roundly pilloried by every minority person who thinks that they are special and that they deserve more representation than the rest of us.

        Well I would not do that and your point should be debated although I prefer that the Parliamentary Labour Party looks like the community.

        • Bored

          I too want the Labour Party to look like the community, and it does that well. I would just hope the choir can sing in tune off the same sheet.

          PS As choirmaster Goff appears tone deaf.

  7. Jim Nald 7

    Is this such a slow week for political news?
    This is becoming so last week.
    Suggest folks start doing the maths for the upcoming budget and for rebuilding Christchurch.
    One week with no monkey business and donkey photo-ops and the camera, light and action go on to Phil.

    • ianmac 7.1

      Agreed Jim. I think that this issue has very little interest in the minds of the general public in the same way that the general public do not really care about the alleged bad stuff about John Key. This continuing dialog is more helpful to the Right than the Left. Hate the phrase but “Get Over It.”

      Instead get stuck in to the Unemployment, Food Prices, Debt, Petrol, Lack of Plan, Inept Rebuilding Christchurch, Tax Cuts for the Rich. These are the things that bother us. Whether Phil should or should not have spoken earlier or later is totally unimportant, unless you enjoy studying entrails.

  8. Herodotus 8

    How stronger would PG be if he was backed by strong, sound policy that had direction. So far we have had GST of F&V (tokenism), tax the top, and look after the middle classes. And this nebulous tax review to find out if and where some $ is topay for promises (While required there will be not a lot remember after 7 yrs tax records can be biffed, so we will only be able to get 2005 events now and should Lab win and pass legislation we then can noly get hold of 2006. The cow to be milked will have passed, not a great deal of tax can be captured in a recession = more debt.
    All we get is wait, wait wait. Well there is severe damage already inflicted to Lab. Perhaps now is a great time to focus and release coherent policy. Where are all these so called great thinkers and potential cabinet ministers of Lab = there is not any evidence so far of their existence.

  9. Afewknowthetruth 9

    The Labour Party is a sham -and has been for decades.

    Phil Goff is a self-serving liar, and is utterly inept. But who amongst Labour MPs isn’t?

    The best thing for the nation as far as Labour is concerned would be to disband the Labour party and start from scratch with people who have intelligence and ethics.

    However, that probably wouldn’t work, since politics in NZ is a sham -and has been for decades.

    The only answer would work would be be for voters to vote for none of the existing parties at the coming election. Just imagine election day and nobody turned up to vote!

    National 0
    Labour 0
    Act 0
    Greens 0
    Maori Party 0

    What a great day for demoncracy that would be -letting the self-serving liars know what we really think of them.

    Unfortunately that will never happen: the sheeple being what they are, will continue to support those who mislead them, until peak oil and environmental collapse bring the entire corrupt system down.

    • Bored 9.1

      The Labour Party is a sham -and has been for decades.

      Truth be known (by a goodly few of us) the Labour party ceased to be a “socilaist” party well back into the 70s when I was first a member. By the 80’s it had become a vehicle for young liberal post hippies and the workers and unions were on the outer. Thats where Goff and the Rogernomes came in. By memory what the Labour Party members had become by the late 80s were the children of working class kids who had become “middle class”. They carried their parents social consciences but their view of society eschewed being working class, unionised, or a socialist…they aspired, they were socially upwardly mobile. And the conservative Nats did not attract those aspiring young feminists, or gays, or Pasifika.

      Now that dream is rapidly turning to crap. People are going to find out that they were working class all along, white collar no doubt but actually going by Marx’s relations to production thoroughly proletarian. They will be shocked and in denial, and maybe, just maybe the Labour Party might come home to its roots of democratic socialism.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        Myself and a few others have been talking about the re-establishment of a true social democracy, one which leans towards the values and practice of democratic socialism.

        Labour Party members like it. Now let’s get to it.

        • Bored

          I was considering rejoining Labour and forcing the change from inside, in support of what I said earlier perhaps use the sectoral thing internally i.e. have a ” real socialist” sectoral group inside Labour…….Starting another party means the 5% thing where as I am sure the “fish’n chips club” of Douglas and crew knew that they would never have 5% real labour support.

    • vto 9.2

      Or`alternatively mr few, you could vote for my party the Vote Them Out party. Each elected member refuses to participate at all in Parliament and government thereby effectively cancelling out a seat.

      Don’t just not vote, actively vote them out.

      • Lanthanide 9.2.1

        The Bill & Ben party stood a party list of only 2 members. I understand that the electoral law as written, if a party runs out of list seats, their share of the vote is essentially thrown away.

        So you’d only need 1 member of the Vote Them Out party to strengthen your agenda – it’s easier to get 1 person to give up their parliamentary position than to expect multiple people to.

  10. vto 10

    There go our power stations and solid energy. It’s just as well that energy is such a low priority these days given its cheap abundance. We don’t really have to worry do we…

    The right thing would be for Goff to throw in the towel in a dignified and respectful manner thereby giving labour voters some hope for keeping key out. Perhaps he could do a Rudd. Or an English.

    Perhaps the entire Labour throng could sort their shit out in a single day – say today.

    Sort your shit out.

  11. Pascal's bookie 11

    (@vto 10: +1)

    I’m not a LP member or voter, so write this off as you will peeps, but it’s how I read the environment this year, as of last week.

    I tend to vote green, but I’m not tribal to parties. I’m partisan to ideas and values, not people or institutions. Greens are closer to those ideas than Labour, so I vote Green to drag parliament that teeny step my way. I need a strong LP to get shit done in conjunction with the greens.

    Like it or not, that week set the narrative with regard to Goff, and no amount of pro forma statements of support from the party insiders will change it. And no, it doesn’t matter if the statements of supporters are genuine, in fact that just makes it worse as it spreads the Goff narrative all over the party as a whole.

    The narrative with Goff as leader will be absolutely toxic for the LP. Partisans can rally around all they like, but so much of the narrative has been set in stone that it will take more than a bit of plaster work to make it good. They need to dynamite it.

    If Goff isn’t rolled within the next few days, the narrative will dictate that the sole reason is that any would be challengers were too scared. That they didn’t want a loss in Nov to damage their longer term career hopes. This is, again, absolutely toxic.

    Some bugger needs to step up. The only way to draw a line under this is to replace the leadership.

    If the leadership doesn’t change, then this sory will be reflected in coverage through to nov in:

    stories about how Labour lacks courage and nous,
    stories about how Goff doesn’t really have the support of the caucus,
    stories about Labour is going through the motions and know they are in for a hiding,
    stories about how every announcement from spokespersons is really about positioning the speaker for the leadership stoush which is expected after their inevitable defeat in nov.
    stories about English in 02

    Worse yet, any policy they do announce will be tainted by it’s association with a ‘flailing party led by the hapless goff’ meaning the post Goff leadership will have to repackage them as non-goff policies

    Changing the leadership will dynamite this narrative and create a new one. It’s not a gauranteed sucess by any stretch, but that way there is at least hope. All the shit so far can be slated to Goff’s poor leadership. That’s tough and unfair on Goff, but it uses the narrative to your advantage.

    Goff and King took a massive gamble and it didn’t pay off.

    Mulligans are for losers and for friendly matches with no stakes. This is not such a match.

    They need to pay the price.

    • Lanthanide 11.1

      100% agree.

    • The Voice of Reason 11.2

      Duncan Garner tends to agree with you, bookie, though for all the wrong reasons. I can’t help thinking Garner would consider it some sort of personal victory if Goff were rolled, where as your analysis at least has some intellectual grunt to it.


      • Pascal's bookie 11.2.1

        I swear to god that I hadn’t read that before I wrote the comment. DG is all about the narrative, all the time, here’s what I reckoned teh narrative would be:

        stories about how Labour lacks courage and nous,
        stories about how Goff doesn’t really have the support of the caucus,
        stories about Labour is going through the motions and know they are in for a hiding,
        stories about how every announcement from spokespersons is really about positioning the speaker for the leadership stoush which is expected after their inevitable defeat in nov.
        stories about English in 02

        here’s what DG tells us the narrative will be:

        Labour’s decision to hang on to Leader Phil Goff after his woeful management of the Darren Hughes affair shows the caucus is clueless, gutless and talentless. And most of all, they have no collective balls….

        …But it seems the caucus has chosen not to do that. It’s a defeatist and hopeless position to be in. Labour MPs appear divorced from reality.

        Labour now faces the very real prospect of its vote collapsing, in the same fashion as Bill English took National to a record defeat in 2002.

        The Labour caucus has opted to go down in 2011 without a fight.

        The narrative spreads from Goff, to the party as a whole…

      • Pascal's bookie 11.2.2

        Also, read garner’s post and imagine how a leadership change would now get slotted into the narrative he has comitted himself to.

        Stepped up to the plate
        finally shown some courage
        what needed to be done
        at last shown signs that they are willing to fight

        none of which is a narrative possibility under Goff.

        • RedLogix

          Nah… the media are going to smear the left regardless of what Goff or anyone else who leads Labour ever does.

        • the sprout

          Stepped up to the plate
          finally shown some courage
          what needed to be done
          at last shown signs that they are willing to fight

          none of which is a narrative possibility under Goff

          never a truer word

          • ak

            You really think so Sprout? Or are we more likely to get

            hapless Goff finally rolled
            Labour’s last gamble
            desperate throw of the dice
            fierce internal blood-letting
            reluctant last hope for divided party
            massive uphill battle for newcomer
            echoes of Mike Moore
            Mike Moore “sad but not surprised”
            divisions still stark
            festering coup wounds yet to heal

            The media will make their own narrative. Orewa I, paintergate, speedgate, Winniebash, Helen/Lenin should’ve given us a clue as to how “knives out for Gaffe-Goff” will pan out for Labour. And why the Garners of this world are pushing it. Again and again we rush like lemmings over the cliff of divide and rule.

            • the sprout

              believe me, i have no doubt the media will continue to make up their own narrative to suit their own interests.

              all the more reason for an effective leader that can front foot the media and can set the news agenda rather than just react wanly.

          • lprent

            I very much doubt that the media would do any of those. Basically those aren’t headlines as far as they’re concerned.

            • Pascal's bookie


              None of that (apart from the 1st one) is any different to what we are going to see through to the election ak. It will all be about how much Goff sucks, and how weak the caucus is, and how will the post election defeat party sort it’s shit out.

              Seriously, what do you think the narrative will be if Goff isn’t rolled?

              No bleating about bias either.

              @lynn, not headlines, but framing points for how the story would probably be told, based on the narrative set out in garner’s post. After that, a new narrative would be set, and it may or may not be good. I’m just saying that what we have now, won’t change unless labour does something to change it. And Goff is failing at doing that.

  12. marg 12

    yep, agree too. It seems to me now that Goff has to take his head out of the sand and realise he can not re-write his political image and narrative. It is too late. He had a small window to do so when he first took over but that time has well passed. He needs to fall on his sword for the good of the party

  13. Gee, these coup rumours are a bit like the boy who cried wolf – aren’t the journos getting tired of being burnt yet? Why don’t they put up (quote the source) or shut up?

    Or is our political struggle that boring that certain commentators have to invent a follow-up to every two-bit scandal? Even dear old Scoop has lost its way.

    What about a story titled: “False coup rumours originated from Beehive”? At least it would have balance and accuracy.

  14. randal 14

    Phil goff will win the next election.
    all the meedja speculation in the world will not alter this fact.
    all the rest is just post modern piffle designed to sell newspapers pander to the tories and keep matthew hooton in a job.
    this government has proved it is not up to it and excising the rotten bits of the party is good for growth and the future wchih will be brighter once there is a government that knows what it is doing rather than one that can only express its atavisitic desire for power money and goods.

    • JD 14.1

      Randal, have you ever consider a career as a regime spokesman? Such blind loyalty would be well rewarded by leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi.

      • Colonial Viper 14.1.1

        JD go back to your whisky.

        • JD

          Single malt if you please.

          Still better than the rank and file Labour activists taste in pilfered parliamentary wine.

      • randal 14.1.2

        ps to jd.
        I speak for my party.
        nz is a western democracy with alt that that implies and not an oriental despotosm which is what national would have if they thought they could get away with it.

        • JD

          Given your spelling mistakes Randal it looks like someone’s been hitting the woodies.

  15. RedLogix 15

    Still cannot see what Goff actually did wrong here… as distinct from what all the right-wing talking heads say he’s done.

    The fact is from where I’m sitting Goff has done pretty much the right thing by all the people involved, and in particular has tried to avoid turning the affair into a ‘trial by media’.

    Which is quite a different thing to having done the ‘clever political game’ thing everyone is accusing him of having fumbled.

    Pick a lane folks… if you give into the game-players now then you’ll be compelled to play by their made-up rules forever.

    • Lanthanide 15.1

      Apparently Hughes offered to resign shortly after he told King and Goff of the problem. Goff declined.

      Hughes offered to resign on Thursday. Goff declined.

      Hughes offered to resign on Friday. Goff accepted.

      The only thing that changed was media scrutiny. In terms of timing, with the disaster in Japan, Labour could easily have front-footed the issue and had it effectively buried, much as the SCF bailout was buried by the first CHCH earthquake.

      • marg 15.1.1

        Here is what I think he did wrong Redlogix: Goff should have had a plan the instant Hughes came to him. He has been in politics long enough to know the incident would be media/National fodder. Instead when the media went to him/his office it was just one long string of flipflops and inaccuracies. He had plenty of time to prepare his strategy, media comment etc…two weeks for goodness sake!!

        Also, not telling the president is extremely poor form. Trying to fob it off with ‘caucus’ matter is unacceptable and reeks of the 80s style of management. The party president needed to know this incident could possibly bring the party in to disrepute. Or does Goff think the caucus is unaccountable to the Party?

      • PeteG 15.1.2

        The only thing that changed was media scrutiny.

        It sounds like something did change – Goff was not told the whole story, for example I don’t think he found out about the naked person picked up on the street until ithe media publicised it.

        He should have been quite pissed off about that – but maybe he could have done more to push Hughes for the whole story. I think that’s a major area Goff slipped up, or was stuffed up by Hughes.

        • Colonial Viper

          NB there is no way Darren would have known about the police picking up a naked person out on the streets unless the police told him directly themselves while interviewing Darren.

          • felix

            That doesn’t change the fact that if a naked man did leave Hughes’ house then Hughes must have known that (you can usually tell by the clothes left behind.)

            And that should have been part of the story he told Goff, quite an important part I’d have thought.

        • RedLogix

          Your all missing the one thing that did change… consider how it would have looked announcing it right slap bang in the middle of the ChCh earthquake crisis. Some might argue that it would have been ‘smart’ to have tried to bury it under this far more important, tragic event… I think it would have gone over like a cup of cold sick.

          Frankly Goff was in a no-win situation and has pretty much made the most of a very bad hand.

          • Colonial Viper

            I think whoever is doing PR for Labour has got to step up.

            The earthquake did not stop the Key Govt from pushing ahead with the Foreshore stuff and other items of the NACT agenda.

            LAB could have informed the media that a change in Daren’s status has occurred but embargoed the information for 72 hours out of respect for the emergency activities going on around Christchurch.

            Someone get TUCKER into Bowen House.

            • felix

              Yep, they need to step the fuck up and fuck the fuck off.

              It really looks like no-one is doing PR for Labour at all, like they just bumble along from one fuck up to the next and it’s pretty much looked like that since before the last election.

              Who the fuck is responsible for this?

              • Bored

                Felix, they both hire ex jornos and call them PR or whatever the term is…if journalism is your background please call them immediately. The value proposition for you to take the job need only be that you could not possibly be worse….

                The other nasty habit they all seem to have now is “interns” sending stuff out on the net constantly…paid zip to stooge around parliament. If you are hired unionise them and get them paid award wages. Having unpaid labour on the basis that they might get a job from the experience is far too right wing for me.

                • Colonial Viper

                  Seriously though, what does the average plain vanilla journalist know about PR? Good PR people USE journo’s, and many top PR schools have very little to do with journalism schools.

                • PeteG

                  So politicians complain bitterly about how sensationalist, biased towards the opposition and unfair journalists are, and then employ them to be sensationalist, biased and unfair to the opposition?

                  Journalists are roundly criticised for their lack of investigation and insight, and then they are employed by politicians.

                  Journalists are dismissed as mere repeaters of PR propaganda, and then they are empoyed by politicians to generate propagnda to be repeated. And the politicians complain about journalists that haven’t yet been employed by politicians for uncritically repeating the opposition stories.

                  Can anyone pick why political PR is poked?

    • Sam 15.2

      You conveniently forget how Goff carried on about Richard Worth, but when he was confronted with a similar situation with Darren Hughes he “copped” out and displayed his weaknesses for all to see.
      That is why he should actually voluntarily step down now and retire at the next election, letting those who succeed him (and Annette King) get on with rebuilding Labour.
      Waiting till after the election postpones the inevitable and will not help those in the community that need help. It will demonstrate that Labour MPs care more for their seat in parliament than the people who elected them.
      I would normally be considered a National voter, but I absolutely abhor what Bill English is doing.
      I would vote for an invigorated Labour party if one existed, but the present moribund lot don’t inspire me either. That then leaves NZFirst and I may well vote that way..

      • Lanthanide 15.2.1

        Yes, I am seriously considering NZFirst, or The Greens. But I’d probably vote for NZFirst because getting him over the 5% line will do a lot more for the government I want to see than piling onto the already-safe Greens. If Winston had got back in at the last election, things might have gone a bit differently so far in this term.

  16. randal 16

    blah blah blah about what Phil goff should have done.
    the important thing is what is he going to do once he wins the next election.

  17. Colonial Viper 17

    Goff is leading Labour into the elections this year, no if’s or buts.

    But Labour has to bring a game changing vision and game changing policies for NZ. Just need to see some gutsy moves and some fire in the belly. Timidity is not going to win the crown. The weeks are ticking down let’s make it happen.

    And let’s not run speculative or distracting plays on behalf of the RWNJs.

    • the sprout 17.1

      yep, any day now i’m sure…

      • Lanthanide 17.1.1

        1st of June is the deadline for them to have made at least some dent. Post-budget.

        But I still think they should roll Goff now, get it over and done with and get new leadership ready for the budget.

  18. Ed 18

    I find the emphasis on one person to be a shallow view of the reality of desirable politics – it is promoted by the media; has been embraced by the Right, and now appears to be accepted by the left. I vote for a party – for the ideals that party stands for, for the team that they put forward, and for the priorities that I believe they will have, and yes also sometimes for specific policies and special interests. I expect them to work as a team – and a team is more than just the person at its head.

    New Zealand was proud to have prime Ministers that understood that – in my lifetime Holyoake, Kirk, Bolger and Clarke. These were leaders who were prepared to let others speak, who could be seen to form views after considering advice rather than before, who did not represent themselves as ‘the decisions-maker’, but who were able to represent the views of New Zealand and of their political party well.

    We now have a figurehead Prime Minister with the real power wielded, in an uneasy way, behind the scenes. The media loves the trivia and circus stunts, and plenty of that is provided. They have lost the ability to analyse policies, but look for soundbites. For the good of the country we have to get away from seeing the Prime Minister as a celebrity, and see him or her as the person that melds the team that gets things done.

    I have confidence that Phil Goff can lead a successful Labour government, if we and the press start thinking about more than photo-opportunities and smiles, and to the options the country has to meet current and future problems. We do not expect shallow ‘media-friendly’ behaviour from the Green Party; we do the Left a disservice by looking for Labour to compete with National’s smile and wave in shallowness and deception.

    • ianmac 18.1

      Good post Ed. Agreed. (Are some writing here doing the Right’s assassination job for them?)

      • Bored 18.1.1

        Ianmac, I have been pretty consistent in calling for Goff to go, along with others for a long time. It has been obvious from day one that he does not have the presence to lead the party and there have been too many fiascos to list on his watch. We are not doing the rights assassination job, we are trying to avoid a death by self inflicted wounds, asking a wounded Goff to step away from the front line for everybodies benefit.

        Eds post has some merit, and he is right about the media and the smile and wave school of politics. Cant we just have a Labour leadership that sings the song forcefully and does not tolerate festering sores and self inflicted wounds?

        • ianmac

          Bored: “I have been pretty consistent in calling for Goff to go, along with others for a long time.”
          Is it possible that in doing so you have helped to undermine Goff?
          Have you any thoughts on how to capture the imagination and trust of we voters? If Goff and others manage to capture the sound bites like “Tax cuts for the Rich”, it might yet work. I have no doubt that the Tui ads worked. Winston’s speech last week did capture by virtue of its simplicity and message to his constituents. So what can we do to help instead of trying to knock down like Kiwiblog is doing so well?

          • Bored

            Jeez IanMac, I dont know if I should feel complimented or worried…if I have helped undermine Goff I would feel very happy, and complimented that others read me and joined in. Reality is I am just another voice, mores the pity. On the other hand I am worried that this whole fiasco and the wrong leadership gives Nact an election on a plate, speaking as a life long leftist I can only express anger at the retention of Goff the Ineffectual.

    • PeteG 18.2

      we have to get away from seeing the Prime Minister as a celebrity, and see him or her as the person that melds the team that gets things done.

      I think it’s fair to say that most people don’t see Goff as able to meld a team that gets things done now, that’s hardly likely to suddenly change if he became PM.

    • Lanthanide 18.3

      “it is promoted by the media; has been embraced by the Right, and now appears to be accepted by the left.”

      I’m not so sure that it is the “left” who have accepted it, but the public. The same public the “left” requires to win votes from.

      Labour can either change the tune, or dance to it. Thus far they’ve done a poor job of changing it and a barely-passable one at dancing to it. In election year, they’re fast running out of time to make major inroads on either tack.

    • marg 18.4

      That is exactly the point Ed, Goff is trying to beat Key at his smile and wave game and I would rather get back to Labour values. Goff had an opinion piece in the Herald that gave him the chance to articulate a different vision for NZers than the bleak National led future. Instead Goff talked about how manly he was, about his chainsaw and tried to promote image over substance.

      Key is wasting time talking about women he wants to shag while Nzers face unemployment, Goff tried to match Key with equally vacuous comments about ‘hot’ women.

      Like it or not the leader is the figurehead of the party’s values and potential. In order for a team to work effectively they have to believe in the leader and want to follow where they lead. Where is Goff leading caucus and the rest of the party?

    • Jum 18.5

      Ed, I agree totally that a party is in government, not one person. There is huge talent in Labour. The Labour Party must provide its own broadcasting ‘channels’; the media has already cuckolded itself to NActMU.

      The damage that NAct has perpetrated on New Zealand and New Zealanders in the last two years is a long list and the reasons they have used for their legislation and their destruction of public services has been misleading and made up. But those facts are not getting into people’s homes or their thoughts. At present the public don’t care. They’re too busy playing lovey-dovey with Christchurch under Crosby and Textor’s manipulations and won’t wake up until Key, English and Brownlee’s moneymen plan for New Zealand hits them in the pocket and in their human rights. People are naive like that. Credit cards, marketing by money men to ‘have it now’, TVNZ and TV3 with mind-numbing ‘faction’, Key and his ‘112’ public relations spinners and sympathetic newspaper owners have engineered that social damage.

      The percentage of parliamentary seats for Labour and Greens has a corresponding backup of party members and New Zealanders who want to get/keep a job and/or live a reasonable life. Those people will spread the message for Labour and the Greens. All they need is someone that they can identify with.

      I like Mr Goff. He needs to speak much louder, however, to be heard over the Duncan Garner rightwing extremists. If he can’t do that he needs to get out of the way of someone who can. In the case of Andrew Little, I wonder if he will consider the rights of women while he’s doing the blokey thing. Chris Trotter would love him which immediately worries me. New Zealand men have not evolved when faced with sharing decisions and women are still happy to put up with shit from everyone.

      Again, the issue arises as to where Labour can support women’s rights other than with a co-party that shares or makes separate decisions and that can attract women’s votes.

  19. Irascible 19

    The game plan from the right is to create a climate that will “force” Labour into making the same panicked leadership changes that occurred post Lange and Rowling’s perceived lack of charisma. (interestingly, the Labour image gurus in Rowling’s time had him laughing at himself on the Fred Dagg TV show. A strategy now being employed by the Crosby-Textor advisers who are running Key in a series of comedy slots on TV in an effort to boost his assumed bumbling blokeyness.) Labour then had Palmer and them Moore in quick succession and then lost the election resoundingly.

    The sustained PR spin from the crosby-textor staffed 9th floor of the beehive ad echoed faithfully by the National Party funded blog sites of Farrar & Slater who are believed by inadequately resourced journalists, well trained in cut & paste journalism, who then give the stories coverage and extension.

    If I recall preferred PM poll results over the years the image of past Labour leaders – Kirk, Lange, Rowling, Clark – have never been high in the pre-election period but then, in the spotlight of the campaign, their poll results rise. The irony of the fascination on the preferred PM polls is that we are not a country that elects a president or a PM. NZ, in true Westminster traditions, elects a political party or, under MMP, a coalition of Parties to govern. The PM is then “elected” by the majority Party to lead the majority party in the Coalition and thus be seen as the PM.

    Goff is the open face of the parliamentary Labour Party presenting, in my opinion, the honesty, the willingness to listen and speak on behalf of the genuine voters and taxpayers and the articulator of the policies and strategies that the Party holds.

    To follow the advice of those whose knowledge and recall of the past is fuzzy or non-existent is to follow faulty advice and should be left where it is in the dust bin of the National Party spin machinery.

    • ianmac 19.1

      Irascible. Thought about what you said for a few hours and I think that you have covered every aspect of the cause and effects. Great. Should get everyone to read your words then gird a few loins. Thanks.

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