Campbell interviews Goff

July 15th, 2009 at 12:54 pm by David Farrar

This is a few days old now, but the Gordon Campbell interview with Phil Goff is worth a read. Some extracts:

Hang around in the leadership of National or Labour long enough, and chances are you will become Prime Minister. Don Brash, Bill English, Jim McLay, John Marshall – in the last 40 years, you can count on one hand the major party leaders who haven’t ended up running the country, and they’ve all been Tories.

History then, would seem to be on ’s side. Yet despite his long ascent – he was a Cabinet Minister eleven years before John Key joined Merrill Lynch – the public still seems to lack a strong sense of his identity.

That is an interesting comparison – a Minister 11 years before Key started work at Merrill Lynch. Goff by 2011 will have spent 75% of his post univerisyt life as an MP.

The point Campbell makes about not having a strong sense of Goff’s identity is basically the same as I made a few weeks ago – people want to know more about who Phill Goff is, and what he believes in.

Only part of this (admitted) image deficit can be attributed to the daisy chain of personas that Goff has gone through, each one with indefatigible sincerity, on his way to the top. From student radical to fervent Rogernome to faithful lieutenant of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, Goff has been a fount of boundless, and fairly imposing, pragmatism. He just never stops.

Goff voted to lower the top tax rate from 66c to 33c and then to increase it again to 39c. What does he really think the top tax rate should be?

Campbell: If you’re not an ideologue, people can still validly say that you’re something of a chameleon. You were a student radical, you became an enthusiastic Roger Douglas supporter, and now you’re mainstream centre left. Does Phil Goff have an identity problem ?

Goff : No. Was it Keynes who said that when accused of changing his position he said ‘Yes, the facts disproved what I used to do, so I changed my mind.’ What do you do ? I think that’s a very appropriate response. My value system, I don’t think, has changed a great deal. Go back and read my Youth Reports, as president of the Labour Youth Movement, to conference.

A chocolate fish for the reader who can find and send me those reports!

Yeah, I’ve changed some of my ideas. Muldoon helped me a lot. He changed my idea of wage/price/rent/profit fixing, rather than allowing the market to determine these things. And protectionism. I don’t believe those things as a means to an end anymore. I also believe that in the current crisis the concept of the self regulating market – which I have never promoted as a concept, myself – has equally been disproved. The truth lies somewhere in between. I believe in the market mechanism, but I don’t believe the market mechanism provides fairness, as an outcome. Nor does the unregulated market always provide the outcome you’re looking for

Nice that Muldoon was good for something.

Campbell : So back then, where were you when it came to the December 17, 1987 package that caused such a ruckus in the Lange government ?

Goff : I wasn’t in the notorious photo, you might recall. I was pretty much focussed on the portfolio responsibilities I had.

Avoiding the question of how he voted in Cabinet on it.

Campbell : So to be clear – on the social outcomes, you thought that Douglas was wrong ?

Goff : I have never wavered from my view – and I ended up as Minister of Education, inheriting Lange’s portfolio, ironically – or from Fraser’s view, that the goal of your education system is to ensure that every child, regardless of what part of the society he or she comes from, can achieve to their full potential.

This is from the Education Minister who introduced non-trivial tertiary fees for students?

Campbell : So in what ways would a Goff government differ fom what we got from the last Labour government? Presumably. it would be more than Helenism with a Y chromosome.

Goff : I was entirely comfortable with what the last Labour government did. As I say, there were a number of things with political implications that we misread. I think we misread what the impact of section 59 would be. It wasn’t that the decision was wrong – it was that decision was always liable to be heavily exploited [to argue] that this is a nanny state government. I’m not sure that the positives we created…(pauses) I voted for the change, and don’t apologise for voting for that change. It has not done what the opponents of it said it would do.

In other words, we did nothing wrong.

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28 Responses to “Campbell interviews Goff”

  1. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    There’s nothing wrong with a politician who changes his/her mind. That connotes openness to change. (Yes, I know, it can suggest opportunism, too).
    Goff recognises, and is one of the few politicians to say so publicly, that repealing s59 was a huge cock-up, and led to a voter backlash against Labour, and against the Greens, too. 100,000 mostly Polynesian voters in Auckland didn’t vote Labour, as they were expected to do.
    I suggest to you it was because of s59.
    The Greens didn’t make the gains at the last election that they expected; I also suggest to you that they have twigged to that, and bolted like demons from heaven from having her as their co-leader because even they knew she was polling-day death. The Greens, after all are not as politically naive as they make out.

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  2. Paulus (2,712 comments) says:

    What a goof of a jerk he is – he will argue black is white – or the otherway round perhaps if it suits his moment, and he has had many of them, because he has never had a job.

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  3. trout (957 comments) says:

    Chameleon is a fair description of Goff: he has managed to keep his heas down in every political storm but come out the other side with the same stripe as the winners. He is not pragmatic; he is a survivor. Politically this may be an asset but electorally it means diddly squat. Kiwis have shown that they have a preference for a decisive influential leader who outshines his/her colleagues. The desire to see ‘more of him’ is code for a search for substance in the man; it is not a need to know what he does Sunday afternoons. Goff is probably a nice guy as in Bill Rowling, not PM material.

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  4. slightlyrighty (2,098 comments) says:

    Goff : No. Was it Keynes who said that when accused of changing his position he said ‘Yes, the facts disproved what I used to do, so I changed my mind.’ What do you do ? I think that’s a very appropriate response.

    But when John Key did it, he was “flip-flopping”?

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  5. GPT1 (2,022 comments) says:

    Misread the political implications. Outstanding. Long may they continue to think that.

    In short, Labour still believes that they know best but they just didn’t quite offer enough sugar to make the medicine go down.

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  6. Offshore_Kiwi (505 comments) says:

    Long may his fear of the Dear Leader continue. If he continues with the “we did nothing wrong” mantra, 1 of 2 things will happen: (1) a permanent majority for the Nats or (2) more likely – a barbeque will be held at Blackwater Shearer’s place.

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  7. stephen (3,981 comments) says:

    But when John Key did it, he was “flip-flopping”?

    The difference is Key didn’t say he learned to love interest free student loans and WFF, he just said he has to live with them for a while.

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  8. Richard Hurst (885 comments) says:

    “Goff by 2011 will have spent 75% of his post university life as an MP.”

    Bloody hell, how awful having to that on your CV! As for a leader with real life experience- forget it.

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  9. sbk (313 comments) says:

    exactly GPT1.”Misread” = didnt give a fuck what the people thought.

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  10. thedavincimode (6,890 comments) says:

    I’ve said it before … and I’ll say it again … and again … and again (lest we forget)

    Just a seagull squawking and flapping about on the number 4 ground when everyone has buggared off to watch the big game on number 1. “Look at me … look at me …”

    And (again) as for being a chameleon; it was almost, I recall, within a week or 2 of Lange’s gummint getting the arse that Flapper Goff returned from the Liarbore weekend teeth knashing, hand holding and hugga mugga fest constituting the post election entrails examination, to boldly announce to a country holding its breath with eager anticipation, that he had been a bit over the top in gummint, but had now “rediscovered his Labour roots”. The identity of these frightful hairy chested former ‘varsity common room slappers has never been revealed.

    And as for this priceless gem: “I have never wavered from my view … that the goal of your education system is to ensure that every child, regardless of what part of the society he or she comes from, can achieve to their full potential.” Hmmmm. can’t say that anyone would disagree with that. Pity that it wasn’t such an important goal as to warrant some effort to achieve it.

    But wait … there’s more, the classic that will hound him to his grave: “I was entirely comfortable with what the last Labour government did.” Care for a slice of Electoral Finance Act cake and a nice cup of stolen money anyone?

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  11. JustRight (31 comments) says:

    Goff : I have never wavered from my view… that the goal of your education system is to ensure that every child, regardless of what part of the society he or she comes from, can achieve to their full potential.

    Yep, I don’t think there would be many people who could disagree with that. About as insightful as saying that ‘I never wavered from my view that gravity is real’ though.

    What we don’t get is any sense of what he really believes is the best way to get this outcome. It is the method that is controversial, not the outcome.

    Goff is a guy who stands for what ever is expedient & the dominant thought at the time. The fact that he is a surviver must be testament to this. How he sleeps at night is beyond me!

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  12. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    I had a moment of senility in my first post. I should have mentioned, of course, that I was referring to Sue Bradford when I was talking about the Greens

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  13. Cerium (23,833 comments) says:

    Seems a nice enough guy for a caretaker.

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  14. burt (7,436 comments) says:

    TripeWryter

    Do you think the 100,000 mainly polynesian voters didn’t vote Labour because of the smacking debacle or was it that the details of the KFC vouchers became public and couldn’t be repeated this election?

    And as for Goff:

    that the goal of your education system is to ensure that every child, regardless of what part of the society he or she comes from, can achieve to their full potential.

    Can anyone explain how NCEA with its focus on ‘participation’ rather than success is helping kids achieve their full potential?

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  15. starboard (2,563 comments) says:

    sure sure…but once fill has gone…( by xmas ) who gona replace him ?? Full moon King ?? Smarty farty Cunleaf ?? I think not…what about the Ginga !! ??

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  16. Buggerlugs (1,241 comments) says:

    As I say, there were a number of things with political implications that we misread.

    With political implications? What about the economic implications of the fucking scorched earth policy of 2008? Wet lipped woofter.

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  17. Graeme Edgeler (2,972 comments) says:

    Goff by 2011 will have spent 75% of his post univerisyt life as an MP.

    Wasn’t Goff a university lecturer? Apart from 1990-1993 what was his post-university non-MP life?

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  18. side show bob (3,410 comments) says:

    What a sad little country we live in, when all we get is someone who’s obvious claim to fame is his rise in the party and this is due to his longevity. For fucks sake, is this country so devoured of people who are willing to stand up and say enough or challenge and appeal to the people’s emotions, obviously not. I’m not a Liarbore fan as most will know but if philin and the rest of assorted tossers believe governance comes through longevity then they need a reality check.

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  19. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    Burt:
    I believe it was over section 59. For evidence to back my assertions … I have none. Just anecdotal stuff.

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  20. Glutaemus Maximus (2,207 comments) says:

    Being entirely comfortable with Labour’s legacy is quite a remarkable statement.

    What is it with the remnants of that regime? Are they still scared of the ‘Dear Leaders’ wrath, or were they incapable of independent thought?

    The electorate, and families will have declared their disgust over many policies invoked on us by Labour, and their fellow Journeymen.

    And the spectre of the the lying, conniving, and treacherous Winston Peters lurking in the shadows is a reminder of all that was wrong with the Pax Romana.

    Corrupt, venal, and self serving does not give comfort to the Franchise. Even if Goff was happy with that whole pathetic episode.

    This will not be forgiven easily. Kiwis don’t really like confrotation, but the pollies shouldn’t read that as blind compliance.

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  21. Whafe (650 comments) says:

    I read all this stuff….. It doesnt change my opinion of Goff, he is a greasy soft cock of a man…….

    When I see, hear, or for some reason think of him, the first thing that comes to mine is “Soft Cock”

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  22. Galeandra (30 comments) says:

    Too much anger, guys, and not enough analysis. Add a little balance if you want to do more than just vent.

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  23. horisthebear (39 comments) says:

    Interesting that no one has pointed out that John (Jack) Marshall did actually become PM from Feb to Dec 1972…

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  24. Jcw (95 comments) says:

    I get the feeling with Phil Goff that he is neither left nor right, just a politician

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  25. Jcw (95 comments) says:

    Indeed he appears to have always gone with labours policy of the day, and now that he is leader there seems to be very little policy

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  26. EverlastingFire (286 comments) says:

    The only good thing I’ve heard from Goff is his acknowledgment that Labour got it wrong on certain policies. At least he can admit mistakes, unlike Helen.

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  27. Tui (28 comments) says:

    I read the Gordon Campbell interview with Phil Goff hoping to find out a bit about Phil Goff the person. I found out about his political life, but stll nothing about him. What are his personal values, what is his vision, what is his strategy? If we take Phil Goff out of the political arena, how would we identify him?

    To illustrate this: a person works for a specific company and his/her identity is tied up with that company. When that person leaves the company, what identity or personal brand does that person have? The person should be bigger than the company and take the personal brand with them.

    My question is “what is Phil Goff’s personal brand?

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  28. William J (44 comments) says:

    Goff has been paying a PR company to groom him for the role of Prime Minister since the early 2000’s. The reason why he doesn’t seem to have a personality is because his PR company haven’t decided what it should be yet. When they do, we will all know about it as he will seem to rise from the ashes. He is the perfect PR client – a blank canvas, malleable, safe and with an ego that can be frighteningly boundless when exposed. However, their work won’t lead to anything because he’s just a bit too ‘average’ to fill big boots – even if they’re made for him.

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