Anthony Hubbard rates Phil Goff as one of the top politicians, but not for reasons he’ll necessarily appreciate:
. . . it is fair to point out that Goff has efficiently carried out some of the necessary tasks of the new leader of a defeated governing party.
He has drawn the scorn and disgust of people all along the political spectrum, including those who used to support Labour. He has given the party time to regroup and to start looking for another leader. And he has started the process of changing party policy. Goff, who naturally belongs to the right of Labour, has presided over a turn to the left. This is a tribute to his courage or a sign of his desperation, or possibly both. But Goff has served loyally in the worst job in parliament.
I agree with his last sentence and that he has started the process of changing party policy, but the change has been in the wrong direction.
People have generally accepted the need for financial restraint. They’re doing it as individuals and households and have the very reasonable expectation that politicians will be similarly Presbyterian with public money.
Instead, Labour has announced no policy which shows they recognise the borrow, tax and spend policies of their nine years in government were wrong and have given no indication they will be any less profligate should they be trusted with the public purse strings again.
However, that is not all Goff’s fault. He is, as Hubbard says, towards the right of his caucus and it is those further to the left who appear to be driving Labour’s policy.
One of them will almost certainly succeed Goff soon after the election but a change of leader by itself won’t help the party’s popularity.
That will take policy which appeals to swinging voters and there aren’t many of those to the left of Labour where those behind Goff are going.