Small on Goff

September 10th, 2009 at 11:57 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

The Labour Party in conference assembled meets in Rotorua tomorrow (9/11 for anyone who can think of a tasteful metaphor) facing a suite of unique challenges.

The first is how to send a message loud and clear to an electorate barely listening that the opposition has drawn a line under the Clark-Cullen years. The second – and equally difficult one – is how to turn the career politician known for 28 years as into a real human being.

Their problem is nothing can change the fact Goff has been a career politician, who entered Parliament when John Key was a 20 year old student dating Bronagh.

He joined Labour at 16, did the usual stint as a student, a unionist and a lecturer and other than that has been an MP for almost all of his adult life.

Expect a significant and symbolic announcement in Mr Goff’s keynote speech on Sunday that will distance his leadership from the former government’s agenda in areas that got up the electorate’s collective nose.

Excellent. That would be sensible.

If Labour was to follow the mirror route on the Left it would need first to attack the non-vote, the grumpies who no longer have Winston Peters representing them in the House and perhaps some Greens to shore up Labour’s numbers. That – rather than a move to emulate National too soon – would give the party the numbers to present a threat and offer itself as a credible alternative government. Only then would it move back towards the centre.

If that is the right way forward, then the question remains whether Mr Goff, who is on the conservative end of the party, is the ideal leader.

He is their only viable leader at the moment and, if he succeeds in reconnecting with more conservative blue-collar (and brown) voters who left Labour for National (or swelled the ranks of the non- voters in 2008) then he may yet find an alternative road to the same end.

But on the other side are a popular prime minister, an economy showing signs of life and a seemingly Teflon Government. The odds are stacked heavily against him.

Labour’s biggest problem is still how out of touch they are with ordinary New Zealanders.

At Backbenchers last night, I was seated next to a prominent gentleman from the Far North. Wallace Chapman was talking about the cuts to , and giving examples such as cake decorating and Moroccan cooking. The young Labour supporters in the room were screaming out “shame” to the news that that taxpayers no longer fund cake decorating courses. The Far North gentleman observed how people in Wellington live in such a different world to the rest of the country.

I could guarantee you the vast majority of New Zealanders are not upset or shamed that they no longer fund cake decorating courses and Moroccan cooking classes, but are probably aghast we used to fund them. The only ones upset are those who used to do the courses or provide them.

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34 Responses to “Small on Goff”

  1. Redbaiter (13,197 comments) says:

    The Labour Party (in actuality a few wasting academics and NZ’s mainstream media) , and Goff’s policy can be nutshelled in these few words-

    “Hide our socialist extremism with weasel words designed to portray us as centrist.”

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  2. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    He joined Labour at 16, did the usual stint as a student, a unionist and a lecturer and other than that has been an MP for almost all of his adult life.

    Ouch.

    Scary thing is that the Left probably think that’s a compliment.

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  3. lofty (1,316 comments) says:

    I am sure that he worked in the fell mongery at a freezing works for 3 weeks in the school holidays, this is what shaped his intimate knowledge of the working class, and his feel for the common man.

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  4. trout (939 comments) says:

    Every day profligate spending by the previous labour government is being exposed (trainsets, cake decorating etc.). At last Kiwi taxpayers are realizing it was their money that was wasted. And yet the socialists still do not get the message that money is just not available for reckless spending. Labour MP’s and their proxies still want Govt. to spend, spend, spend, and business costs to escalate (new redundancy provisions), and social spending to increase (Families Comm. want 12 months paid maternity leave at a cost of 500mill+ pa). Will Goff acknowledge that the money tree is exceeding bad health, needs pruning, and TLC if it is to continue to fruit?

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  5. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    Hmmm…I think Redbaiter may have missed the target in the above post. Goff is well known as a non-socialist extremist.

    However, Labour does need to sort out what it stands for these days. The obvious reason that Labour has been pretty quiet on alternative policies is that it basically agrees with National. For example, there is a gaping hole in the economic arena waiting to be exploited but the only feet English has been tripped up with are his own.

    And it’s all very well plucking low hanging fruit, like cake decorating classes which actually helps certain people in many ways, and are cost effective therapy sessions, but the meanies are back in power and it won’t stop there!

    Mathew Hooten calls the Nats Labour-lite but it won’t be long before all those frustrated old pollies hanging on to their perk-machines start to sneak behind JK’s back with their weirder pet projects and the poll ratings head south. It’s still impossible to see Labour climbing back anytime soon though.

    The real opposition these days is the Greens and the Maori party. Russell Norman is bringing a good dose of pragmatism and political nous to bear for the Greens, while Pita Sharples is a very presentable face for them. There is a window of opportunity to widen their base eg beneficiaries, elderly, students and so on while Labour is struggling to define its future pathway.

    In my lifetime, the only opposition to actually win power, rather than the Government falling out of favour, was Muldoon’s first win as leader of the Nats. There ain’t no Muldoon on the horizon so its just a matter of settling in for the ride and rolling with the punches.

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  6. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    I am sure that he worked in the fell mongery at a freezing works for 3 weeks in the school holidays, this is what shaped his intimate knowledge of the working class, and his feel for the common man.

    Nah. I saw a picture of him on teh web explaining to a builder the way underfloor insulation is installed. He learnt it watching Tool Time I think.

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  7. mike12 (183 comments) says:

    Good point David re the yuppy classes. If you can find time in your life for cake decorating and Moroccan cooking then I’m sure you can also find the money to pay for it..

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  8. 3-coil (1,220 comments) says:

    DomPost “journalist” Small reveals his weasel pro-Labour bias in the article when he says the Goff-led Labour Party are currently polling at “30% give or take a margin for error”.

    Vernon Small cannot bring himself to admit that Labour support has slipped down under 30% and into the 20’s (+/- margin of error). It is this type of sly bias and dishonesty that leaves the readers unable to trust the veracity and neutrality of the DomPost’s political writers. If he lies about a “small” point like this, why should we believe ANY of the other crap he dribbles?

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  9. lofty (1,316 comments) says:

    Bloody good point 3-coil.

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  10. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    Labour has lost “straight white blokes” who used to be their bed-rock support. I cannot imagine the small self employed business person voting for them – ever, not after their refusal to give tax cuts. It is tax that hits the self employed the most. Labour might have got your plumber, builder, truckie once – but not now. The point is – John Key is sensible and non threatening. People trust him. Even if National have people who want to get stuck into welfare and more – that constituency will trust John to get it right and be fair. Labour has moaned at every cut in spending without offering how the Government is going to pay its way without imposing high taxes. People trust National on spending more than they trust Labour on taxes.

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  11. Sam (502 comments) says:

    I think it something of a pity really, given how good Goff was in the previous government – his work on trade with China should probably be credited to some degree with assisting our climb out of recession. This goes to show however, that a good Minister does not necessarily make a good Party Leader – and Small is correct, that if Goff and Co do not draw a line under the previous Labour Govt. then it is going to be even more impossible (if such a thing were at all possible) for there to ever be a Goff-led government… For me however, drawing a line under Clark’s regime would mean deposing Goff and King…

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  12. The Silent Majority (88 comments) says:

    One symbolic way of drawing a line under the Klark/Cullen regime would be to support John Boscawen’s Crimes (Reasonable Parental Control and Correction) Amendment Private Member’s Bill.

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  13. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    I think they might be hoping National will actually stand for something in 2011 which might give the a chance of differentiating themselves (e.g. on privatisation, welfare or taxes) but I think it more likely the Nats will just drift left, confident that the right vote will stick or at worst go to Act (which will only ever have one coalition partner).

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  14. tvb (4,430 comments) says:

    The keep beating the privitisation drum. Everytime the Government proposes some worthwhile reform the Labour Party chimes in opposing the reform saying it is a secret agenda for privitisation. They have not moved on since 1990, and why – their leadership is back in the 1980s.

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  15. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Every article I read on this blog, there’s some weirdo with his mind set on beating his daughter!! (The Silent Majority). Just get over your obsession with kid-beating you creep, and stop being so paranoid. It makes me sick. What the hell does “a light smack for correction” have to do with a journalist named “Vernon Small” and Phil Goff??

    Talk about a one-track mind!

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  16. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    Who of the current parliament were not even born when the current opposition leader first came to the house.

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  17. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Another reason Labour has lost support is their attitude towards marriage and families.

    FamilyFirst has an interesting report up about family.
    http://www.familyfirst.org.nz/files/2009%2021%20REASONS%20WHY%20MARRIAGE%20MATTERS.pdf

    Economic factors I find revealing assuming they are accurate are:
    5. Divorce and unmarried childbearing increase poverty for both children and mothers
    6. Married couples seem to build more wealth on average than singles or cohabiting couples
    7. Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories
    8. Parental divorce (or failure to marry) appears to increase children’s risk of school failure
    9. Parental divorce reduces the likelihood that children will graduate from college and achieve high-status jobs

    I can’t understand that if these economic factors are true why wouldn’t a Govt (even Labour) want to effect policy that enhances this.

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  18. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    apologies those stats were from this document.
    http://www.nzmarriage.org.nz/21-Reasons-Snapshot.pdf

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  19. noodle (151 comments) says:

    Voters remember the small, mean stuff. Cutting thai cooking, macrame and finger-painting art courses? Hello? These are not so much low-hanging fruit as wind-fall. How much does this stuff cost the taxpayer after all? Right, sod all ,but it pisses people off. Key should be thinking bigger and more strategically, not messing (Clark style) with Edith and Edna’s big night of the week. They are already pissed that they can’t have a smoke at bingo. I expect better from National.

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  20. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    “7. Married men earn more money than do single men with similar education and job histories”

    I wonder if that is because men who are married earn more or because men who earn more are more attractive to women and therefore get married?

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  21. max (31 comments) says:

    “I could guarantee you the vast majority of New Zealanders are not upset or shamed that they no longer fund cake decorating courses and Moroccan cooking classes, but are probably aghast we used to fund them. The only ones upset are those who used to do the courses or provide them.”

    Yes but there will be plenty of people upset that they cannot take language classes, driving classes, computer classes etc etc etc that will be cut, meaning that people who are trying to upskill no longer can afford to. So much for wanting an skilled economy…

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  22. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    @KiwiGreg

    the two most popular explanations for higher married-men wages are
    1- married men are better motivated and hence more productive. This is the intrinsic explanation.
    2- the wives of married men boost their productivity by discouraging them from staying out late at night boozing, make sure they’re dressed and ready for work etc, and generally just better organised and fit for work.

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  23. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    max- the Govt has boosted ORRS funding and the like for disabled kids and I’d much rather that money was spent there, than on cake decoration. In fact, I think it’s pretty scummy to want to take money away from disabled kids so that middle-class adults can attend cooking classes and silk-scarf weaving classes.

    Second, on languages, I learn them without the benefit of adult education classes (e.g. Mandarin) because the economic benefits of doing so, outweigh any private costs I might incur. It’s good to learn languages- but seriously- if the economic need to learn a language is there to make you better off, people tend to stump up with the cash to do so. It doesn’t need a taxpayer subsidy. Or if it does, then I’m owed some serious money from the rest of you.

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  24. expat (4,050 comments) says:

    “The Far North gentleman observed how people in Wellington live in such a different world to the rest of the country.”
    >Quite. Along with most of the deluded socialist rabble that form the Labour party cheerleading squad who are avid consumers of state largess. Can you hear the squealing?

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  25. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    Yes but there will be plenty of people upset that they cannot take language classes, driving classes, computer classes etc etc etc that will be cut, meaning that people who are trying to upskill no longer can afford to. So much for wanting an skilled economy…

    Max, if I pay you to lead a horse to water will you guarantee to me (in advance!) that it will drink?

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  26. getstaffed (9,186 comments) says:

    The young Labour supporters in the room were screaming out “shame” to the news that that taxpayers no longer fund cake decorating courses

    Pity one couldn’t have had them write this down, rather than screaming it. I’m guessing they’d spell ‘shame’ incorrectly… illiteracy being a prerequisite for state-funded cake decoration training.

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  27. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    Isn’t politics so boring at the moment. No flair or out-of-the box policy decisions, just a plain old bitch fight for the centre.

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  28. noodle (151 comments) says:

    Chthoniid. I gather from your post that you feel yourself rather “above” the users of these courses. I will refrain from opining that you are an arrogant, over-educated twat, completely out of touch with reality outside of academia etc …
    I assume that you are qualified to posit that the course users are middle-classed; what if they are; and that money spent on the disabled is economically sound.
    Do you feel more kindly disposed towards folk with physical/mental handicaps than towards folk who have not? And if so, why? Are they a better financial proposition? Or what?

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  29. nickb (3,687 comments) says:

    Noodle, if these classes are so important, why can’t people pay for them themselves?
    Have you just had the plug pulled on an advanced embroidery or flax weaving course you were doing?

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  30. Ross Miller (1,704 comments) says:

    I will be looking with interest at those attending the wake. I suspect we will find ….

    a raft of feminists
    a large contingent from the Rainbow Wing of the Party
    unionists galore
    a fair smattering of teachers and academics
    the unemployable
    Some token PIs
    Some token Asians
    Some token Maori
    Some token white people
    the anti this and thats
    a heap of ex MPs
    and a menagerie of left wing journos

    but not too many

    business people
    farmers
    small town Kiwis
    honest workers
    taxpayers
    ordinary New Zealanders
    achievers
    entrepreneurs

    just about sums it all up doesn’t it.

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  31. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    noodle, the only thing that can be inferred from my comments is that I value spending $50m on disabled children to expand their opportuntities into the future, over spending $50m on people who already have far more opportunities and possess the resources to improve themselves.

    On every other detail or inference, you are sadly wrong. I wouldn’t survive covert work in Asian wildlife smuggling hotspots if I had the traits you attribute.

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  32. reid (16,509 comments) says:

    A lot of Key’s support base are the women who abandoned Hulun in 08 and haven’t found in Goff anything worth returning to.

    Add to that the blue collar males who abandoned the Sisterhood despite the push by the Unions – they just didn’t vote, last time.

    Goff offers neither group anything. Despite Andrew Little’s presence.

    I think the current polling for the govt is not so much a reflection of electoral support for the Nats but rather a complete absence of any meaningful opposition. Key’s not a brilliant politician despite DPF trying to paint him as such, but he is lucky and as Napoleon said…

    Someone referred above to Wussel Norman making inroads. Yeh right. He’s a nutcase and most people know it.

    If Liarbore elected a leader with dual female + blue collar male appeal, you would see the polls start to reverse. Luckily for Key, only Little could do that and he’s nowhere near the political levers – yet.

    Shame for Liarbore they kicked out Tamihere. This would have been his moment to shine.

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  33. noodle (151 comments) says:

    Chthoniid. Your covert work in Asian wildlife smuggling sounds very interesting. Seriously. If we had a beer together I’d bombard you for details. But I still feel you are quite out of touch with the “boring” stuff that you leave behind.
    And nickb, I couldn’t weave a stand-up basket if you paid me good money. I’ll figure that out when I finish the lead-light for beginners course. After the aroma/neuro/herbo/feely naturopathic bump feeling/orgasmic extending workshop that comes after the beige on beige decor for matrons course ……. How can you deny me this?

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  34. Put it away (2,880 comments) says:

    I had a conversation with a leftie who on the one hand was convinced that these these moroccan cooking courses and suchlike are completely self-funded by the course fees, and yet he simultaneously believes they couldn’t possibly happen now that these cuts have been made. Just bizarre. Government is necessary even where it’s not necessary. I can’t grasp the lefty mindset of dependency on the gummint. The light bulb just doesn’t go on in their head that if people are prepared to fund a course with their fees, then what’s to stop some enterprising person from the community just running the course privately ? If htere’s demand, supply will follow. But no. Nothing can happen without the magic government hoodoo.

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