Only the God of politics could have delivered Don Brash walking a plank when his party was preparing to dump him. It took the same divine intervention to make John Key say he was going to lead “a Labour Government” when some hardliners in his party were worrying his compromising style would create a “Labour-lite” administration.
The same evil deity had his sport with Labour leader Phil Goff this week. First it made him refer to his finance spokesman David Cunliffe as David Caygill – reminding anyone who can remember that far back that he was part of the 1980s Labour Government and the legacy that Labour has been so keen to distance itself from.
Then he shot himself squarely in the foot by saying at least he had not said he would be the leader of a Labour government.
Well, if you say so, Phil.
And that quote also made Page 2 of yesterday’s Dom Post. It has not been a good week with a no confidence letter from Te Atatu, a speech that flopped, two gaffes and now Manurewa at civil war and a possible by-election.
If Mr Goff wants to increase his extremely slim chances of an upset at the next election, the process is all too slow and too late.
Of course, the received wisdom is that oppositions should keep their policy powder dry till close to the election when voters are focused, the media are more even- handed between the government and the opposition and your best ideas cannot be stolen by your rivals.
But these are not normal times.
Mr Goff is a decent and able politician.
But he is up against perhaps the most popular prime minister in his lifetime. If he and Labour seriously think that in a presidential-style campaign he can shade Mr Key they are dreaming.
If they think he can be sold as the experienced solid alternative – when Miss Clark failed on that score – they have not been watching the crises Mr Key had to negotiate in his first two years as prime minister.
It amazes me how badly Labour under-estimate John Key. You think they will have learnt by now. National never liked Helen Clark, but they always had a healthy respect for her political abilities. Labour seems to believe their own (plagiarised from right wing blogs) slogans.
Labour’s slim hope is that National will lose the election through a series of unforeseen errors or disasters or a severe downturn in the economy.
And that is not impossible. Unlikely, but can’t be ruled out.
Goff needs to do a re-shuffle to have a better chance of victory. The entire front-bench are Ministers thrown out at the last election. Goff needs to promote to the front bench and second row new MPs such as Robertson, Hipkins, Nash, Curran, Twyford and Shearer etc.