Labour’s political management

Bryce Edwards wrote:

Of course Goff and his party played the crucial role in sending New Zealand into the war, so his current stance would appear, to some, to be hypocritical. Goff refuses to say that ’s intervention was wrong, essentially suggesting that it has only been wrong under the National Government, but few will be convinced. Goff’s view of the future is bleak: ‘Afghanistan was slipping towards civil war…. He said success in Afghanistan relied on a local administration that could capture the “hearts and minds” of its people. The Karzai administration had failed on that front, and Goff said it was “deeply corrupt”. “It is involved in drug trafficking, supports war lords, and hasn’t got the support of the people. Why are our guys dying to defend an administration of that nature?”‘ Ironically, those criticisms were, of course, the exact ones made during Goff’s tenure as Minister of Defence. Goff’s words now amount to an admission of defeat.

David Shearer’s position on the withdrawal appears to be more cautious than Goff’s, and is effectively the same as the Government’s. When interviewed today Shearer said: ‘I don’t think we should be cutting and running, because that will undo the very good work we’ve done over the last nine years. But we shouldn’t be staying any longer than we have to – I’m talking about months, rather than a year and a half’ – see TV3’sFirstline – Leave Afghanistan ‘as soon as practical’ – Shearer.

Labour’s position has been all over the place. Goff has been saying one thing, and Shearer another. Plus Shearer’s position varied throughout the day.

This suggests to me that Labour’s parliamentary unit is not operating as effectively as it should be. The moment news of the three further deaths broke, there should have been a quick meeting to determine what the Leader would say, and then if he signed off on it, it should be communicated to all MPs with clear instructions that no Labour MP is to say anything beyond that.

This is not advanced political management. This is basically Politics 101. A party needs to speak with one voice on issues like this. Goff is saying the mission (which he started) has failed, while Shearer is saying it has not.

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